PESHAWAR: With a strong resolve to not be gagged by threats from terrorists, Peshawar's Army Public School reopened for educational activities along with other institutions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country.
Nearly a month after the Dec 16 Taliban attack claimed over 150 lives, APS students attended the school's reopening ceremony amid tight security. Soldiers were positioned with sophisticated weapons on roof tops and all around the institute's premises. Military vehicles were patrolling along the outer wall cordons which have now been raised to more than 10 feet high and have had barbed wires fixed on top. High zoom cameras have also been installed at several points.
Many believe that the Dec 16 attack could have been averted had these measures been in place before the Taliban-claimed siege. It was amidst these discussions that the provincial government had on Jan 8 announced its decision of reopening all government and private schools from today.
“Schools with insufficient security arrangements would not be allowed to reopen,” said Information Minister KP Mushtaq Ghani.
Many of the parents who lost their children in the tragedy appear determined and not afraid to send their other children to the same school. Several survivors are also of the view that such acts of terror would not deter them from getting an education.
Tariq Aziz, who lost his brother Asad Aziz in the tragedy, said he and his four brothers who had survived the attack were not afraid to attend APS again.
"There is no fear among us; Asad’s martyrdom is a gift of Allah Almighty and such acts cant terrorise us," he said.
Asad’s other brother Hassan Saeed, who was also present at the time of the tragedy, said: “I will go to the same school and I am not afraid."
He added that he would receive an education and defeat the terrorists.
Syed Yasin Shah, a classmate of Asad, said that although he could not forget the horror and terror "which happened in the hall", he was not afraid and "would go to school come what may".
“It will be difficult to forget the golden moments, for example when Asad and I along with others in our group would go out to the canteen and party; it won't be the same any more. It will really hurt when I go back to school,” Shah remarked.
He added: “I would not have thought of joining the army, but now it’s my mission. I will definitely join the army in the future and fight against terrorists who mercilessly killed my innocent friends."
Muhammad Sohail Khan, who lost his son Azan Turyali in the tragedy, said death always came at its time and therefore he was not worried. Khan further said: "My other children would definitely go to school; there is no way we will be keeping them at home."
Aman, the younger sister of Azan, echoes a similar sentiment.
"We will be going back to the same APS; we are not afraid of these terrorists. They want to stop us from receiving an education but we cannot be stopped; we are proud of our brother’s sacrifice.”
Another survivor of the massacre, Hanzala, who was among the last to be rescued, said he was not afraid but would miss his classmates.
He further said that he would go to the same school and added: "It doesn’t matter what happens now; we are not afraid at all.”