Lead, they say, is the toughest part of writing. Never thought I would be so spoiled for choice to begin with, at such a saddening juncture. There is a sea of emotions, plenty to express, humongous grief within & a perpetual disgust ever since the incident occurred.
Who could have thought that a normal day at school, on the 16th Of December, 2014, would turn out to be a such a fatal one for the children & staff of Army Public School (APS), Peshawar & of course for Pakistan itself. Seven heavily armed attackers of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan caused the havoc in the Army-run school & took the lives of almost 142 students & school officials. Accounts of the eye witnesses, who fortunately escaped death, apparently explain how dastardly the attack was.
Sitwat Jafri, a 12th Grade student, lost his mother who was a teacher at APS. His younger brother, Baqer Jafri, was shot in the head but thankfully survived later. Another teacher, Sofia Amjad, who was married to a lawyer, lost her battle with life, before she could have made the dream of marrying off her daughters a reality. During the attack, some students pretended to be dead & later described the trauma to the world. There are numerous other stories that have surfaced thereafter, which have truly shaken us. Many countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Canada and United Kingdom have shown support & stood by Pakistan. India, in particular, has responded very positively to Pakistan, forgetting their differences & uniting at this crucial point. The #IndiawithPakistan was trending on twitter & the incident drew extensive support from the Indian base of Twitter users. Many schools, all over India, observed a two-minute silence to remember & pray for the departed souls. But, sadly among all these humanitarian gestures, there were still some insensible Politicians of our country, who took advantage of the situation to target Pakistan on grounds of historical differences & proliferating terrorism, through their futile comments.
The Peshawar episode has raised questions about the security of schools in the minds of the young ones too. As reported in India Times, a leading Indian newspaper, a parent, Richa Sharma, found herself striving to answer the query of her six-year-old daughter when asked “Mummy, we don’t even have benches in our school. Only chairs. Where will we hide?” The same report also highlights, another Class 2 student, Kavya’s fear when she innocently asks her mother “How far is Peshawar from her school?” and “If all the bad people have been killed.”
Let us not forget those parents, who have lost the wealth of their life in this heinous act. That limitless pain, that feeling of never being able to see their child again, that agony has left them utterly inconsolable. No other blessing in the world would perhaps commensurate the loss. Not an eye would be void of tears on the very thought of their excruciation. Let me also make it clear here that those who have carried out this inhuman act in the guise of Islam, had no right to do so. It would be like adulterating the ever so pristine religion to serve the nefarious intentions of a few ruthless beings.
Lastly, post Peshawar tragedy, both the countries of the sub-continent would remember 16th December as one of the blackest days in their history. While Pakistan is lamenting the Peshawar school attack, India has also not been able to come to terms with the Delhi gang rape case that jolted the countrymen a couple of years back.
We wholeheartedly pray that may peace prevail on either side of the border & citizens of both the countries stay safe eternally.
‘This is murder and criminality of the worst form which is beyond human beings, but people still think that these murderers, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are human beings,’ says Mohammad Tahseen from Lahore.
The Peshawar school attack has reminded me yet again that we in Pakistan are living with animals: Blood thirsty man eaters. The animals created by our rulers are now being fed on our children’s blood!
I am convinced that we have to go through this agony as there is no other way. And we have to fight and crush them for good.
It is a very sad day in Pakistan today. I am agonised and sad to hear the awful act of barbarism in the school and do not find appropriate words to share my feelings of sorrow with the parents, families and friends of these students. It must be more than the hell for them.
I, as a parent of two children, can feel the pain of these families whose children have been killed and wounded. I cry for them.
This is murder and criminality of the worst form which is beyond human beings, but people still think that these murderers, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan are human beings. No wonder ‘they’ were having peace talks with these animals till Monday. And mind you ‘they’ speak the same language!
What else? We felt the pain when Malala Yousufzai was attacked in Swat, we cried when her book was not allowed to be launched at Peshawar university by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, we were bewildered when more than two dozen young girls (ranging between the age of 5 to 12 years) from Bajaur were recovered from the madrassas of Karachi. One does not know how many more such young girls are there with the madrassa mafia for business purposes.
Enough! I think we have paid more than the price of creating and nurturing these animals amongst us. It is time now to rout them for good.
My heart goes out to the sons and daughters of Pakistan faced with what is undoubtedly the most tragic day. All the more reason that we continue our work and work hard, no matter how challenging the situation is.
We will win.
Image: Schoolchildren run away from the school that was attacked by Taliban terrorists in Peshawar.
Photograph: Khuram Parvez/Reuters
Mohammad Tahseen is a social worker and human rights activist based in Lahore.