PESHAWAR: Everywhere in this city are reminders.There are the posters on the street corners and the poetic banners in the bazaar, the enhanced security at every turn. Muhammad Tufail lives every day with the fact that his 15-year old Sher Shah was one of the students killed in the Army Public School on December 16th, 2014, and he does so while residing on a street named after his martyred son. Sheri Shaheed is a quiet street in Peshawar just over one kilometer away from the school, and named after a hero teenager who was anything but silent. “In the ten minutes you have been sitting here,” Muhammad Shah exclaims proudly, “he would have asked you twenty questions. Where you are from, what you studied, why you did this or that and what you learned. He would tell you that he wasn’t interested in being a doctor. My boy wanted to be a writer and a journalist too.” As Pakistan nears the one-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in its history, it also looks back a year of tremendous strides against terrorism. The devastating attack on the Army Public School led to a dramatic change in policy in both military and political circles, fueled by a shocked public demanding justice. For Muhammad Tufail, the days after the attack left him reeling. “The day I buried my son, I wept to bring the sky to the ground he would be resting in. I went around to everyone I could think of, my learned friends, sisters at the convent my daughter attends, anyone who knew about religion, asking them please tell me what religion says to kill children like this, women like this,” he says falling into silence. “These actions are not my society. They are not my culture. And they are not my traditions.” As parents grieved in the immediate aftermath of the APS attack, an All-Parties Conference was held by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to craft a 20-point National Action Plan that would combat terrorism on multiple fronts. The armed forces stepped up its military offensive Operation Zarb-e-Azb, begun after the July 2014 siege of Karachi Airport decimated the Prime Minister’s deteriorating peace talks. The operation has been a success by all accounts, effectively clearing terrorist strongholds in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and along the Pashtun belt under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. The results explain the high favourability rating of the armed forces: 2014 saw dozens of attacks a month down to one or two in the same time period. Prime Minister Sharif remains plagued by criticism that he lacks the will to implement crucial parts of the National Action Plan. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has yet to be sufficiently established, nationwide education reform remains an increasingly worsening issue, and serious madrassa reform still seems far-fetched. Muhammad Tufail looks up sharply at the word madrassa. “I remember listening to BBC Radio in the war to get the Soviets out of Afghanistan and I never once heard of something like a madrassa. Those things were created to breed hate.” Upon hearing that once madrassas were the hallmark of Islamic enlightenment, he smiles and begins talking again of his son. “Sher would know that. He knew all sorts of things you would never expect a boy from a humble home in Peshawar to know. Do you know he brought home Machiavelli’s The Prince? He especially loved talking about Suleiman the Magnificent. He and I would sit and talk about history long after the others had fallen asleep.” He looks around the house that was constructed for two sons to lead full and happy lives. Muhammad Tufail’s other son, 14-year old Ahmed Shah, lived only because Sher Shah pushed him out of harm’s way. He sits quietly, listening to his father recount the memory he remains haunted by. Ayesha Gulalai, the 11-year old daughter laughs at funny pictures of her fallen brother, choosing to focus on the happy memories of her brother’s entertaining conversation. Muhammad Tufail similarly refuses to see the APS attack as a black day. He knows his son was part of the reason Pakistan united against terrorists and will inevitably triumph. He has to focus on that fact, says, when he becomes frustrated with political incapacity in the news. Sher’s mother agrees to speak to the Daily Times in her private room, pointing to her son’s bookbag, unopened from one year ago and his closet and clothes, strewn just where they were one year ago. “I don’t tell my husband this,” she says softly, “because he already is suffering from the pain, but each day around school dismissal time, I stand in the door and see the children going home. And I let myself think, just for a few beautiful moments, that my Sheri will also come home.” If 2015 allowed military successes against terrorism, 2016 will be the make-or-break year to complement them with a brave and clear stance against extremism in the mainland. “My message to the people and politicians of Pakistan is not to forget our children. We have to end this from our world,” Muhammad Tufail says, his words disappearing into the air outside to Sheri Shaheed street.