ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI: Grief-stricken men, women and children braved the chill of the cold December night and gathered to hold a candlelit vigil outside the Army Public School Rawalpindi, to mourn the killing of over a hundred schoolchildren and staff members in a terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Children were seen holding placards condemning the attack.
“I have come with my children to register our stand against terrorism and express our solidarity with the victims,” Mohammad Jawad, a resident of Chaklala Scheme-III, said.
An outpouring of grief was also witnessed at the National Press Club where civil society, government officials and large number of citizens came together to hold a candlelight vigil to mourn the attack.
“It is terrible that parents sent their children to school then waited outside to receive their dead bodies,” said human rights activist Farzana Bari.
Vigils held in Rawalpindi and Islamabad in memory of schoolchildren and staff who lost their lives
Save The Children’s advocacy and campaigns specialist Dr Irshad Danish said children should not be involved in any war and they should not be used for politics.
“The destruction of a school leaves a long-term impact on growth and healthy development of children in Pakistan. Schools should never be targeted, they must remain a place of safety and refuge,” he said.
End Violence Against Women/Girls, an alliance of NGOs, representative Salim Malik said government and law enforcement agencies should learn from past experiences and ensure security for all sensitive areas.
Habiba Salman from Child Rights Movement (CRM) said when Malala Yousafzai was attacked, people came up with conspiracy theories to justify the attack however it has now become clear that people who have been attacking students are against education.
Protesters demanded that in light of the incident foolproof security should be provided to schools in the federal capital.
Blood donation camps were also organised at various places in Islamabad. United States Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olsen donated blood at a camp organised at Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) to express solidarity with the victims. PRCS Chairman Dr Saeed Elahi said 250 bags of blood were dispatched to various hospitals in Peshawar.
Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told Dawn that following the incident 130 bags of blood and teams of doctors, nurses and paramedics were sent to Peshawar.
“All staff members at the hospital will wear black bands on their arms for three days to mourn the national tragedy,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2014