Peshawar, Dec 17: The "mind struggles to comprehend" the massacre of 132 students by the Taliban at a Pakistani Army-run school here, Pakistani dailies said Wednesday, calling for a prompt end to terror.
In an editorial, Dawn described the terror attack as "so horrifying, so shocking and numbing that the mind struggles to comprehend it".
"...the death count seemed to increase by the minute. First a few bodies, dead schoolchildren in bloodied uniforms, then more bodies, and then more and more until the number became so large that even tracking it seemed obscene."
A staggering 148 people, including 132 children, were killed in the audacious attack at the Army Public School Tuesday.
The death of the children will strike a collective psychological blow that the country will take a long time to recover from, the editorial said.
It said that nothing compares to the horror of what took place at the Army Public School. "The militants found the one target in which all the fears of Pakistan could coalesce: young children in school, vulnerable, helpless and whose deaths will strike a collective psychological blow that the country will take a long time to recover from, if ever."
The daily called for focussing on the grieving families of the dead, the injured survivors and the hundreds of other innocent children who witnessed scenes that will haunt them forever.
"Even in a society where violence is depressingly endemic and militant attacks all too common, the sheer scale of attack demands an extraordinary effort by every tier of the state - and society - to help the victims in every way possible."
The editorial asked: "Where was the intelligence?"
"This was a spectacular failure of intelligence in a city, and an area within that city, that ought to have been at the very top of the list in terms of a security blanket."
"Surely army public schools are under high enough risk to have merited some kind of advance planning in case of such an attack. Was that plan in place? Had there been any drills at the school to help the children know what to do in the eventuality of an attack? Who was responsible for such planning? Most importantly, will lapses be caught, accountability administered and future defences modified accordingly?"
It went on to say that vows to crush militancy in the aftermath of a massive attack are quite meaningless.
Military operations "will amount to little more than fire-fighting unless there's an attempt to attack the ideological roots of militancy and societal reach of militants".
"Perhaps the starting point would be for the state to acknowledge that it does not quite have a plan or strategy as yet to fight militancy in totality."
The News International said in its editorial "Dying Young" that there are no words strong enough to describe the horror of what happened.
"All that is left behind is a deep sense of grief and hollowness as we realise that we are up against a force that lacks humanity and morality and knows only how to inflict pain - pain that for over 100 families will never go away."
"The militants quite clearly intended to kill as many as possible."
It said that the sense of horror reverberating around the country, and the world, is very genuine.
"Certainly, children have never before been targeted in this fashion."
The question to be asked is: how can we make this stop? How do we keep our children safe? The military operation against the rebels must continue.
"But we need political will and political action to back it, as well as every effort to tackle the root causes that lead to such acts of terrorism."