PESHAWAR: Amid protests from parents of victims' of the Army Public School massacre, newly-wed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his wife Reham, visited the school on Wednesday morning.
The PTI Chairman was expected to visit the school on Jan 12 on the occasion of the school's re-opening after the Dec 16 Taliban attack which left 150 people dead, including more than 132 school children.
Family and loved ones of those who had lost their lives in the Peshawar school attack gathered outside APS Peshawar today, as Imran, Reham and KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak along with others arrived at the school amidst tight security. Imran Khan shook hands with students as he was welcomed inside the school as Reham Khan spoke to the children and signed autographs.
Holding posters and banners, the protesters tried to stop Khan's vehicle from entering and complained that the provincial government did not show any concern regarding the school attack. The demonstrators also lamented that it took Khan a month to come to Peshawar and speak to the students after the deadly school massacre.
"For one whole day, they [media] showed [Imran Khan's] wedding and Valima," said a grieving mother while speaking to the media. "They were not showing anything about the children anymore. Nobody cares and he [Imran Khan] came to visit after a month."
Khan had tweeted that he, along with his wife Reham and KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, were going to visit the APS but they were advised to postpone their visit in view of the COAS's visit for what they were told was a soft opening of the school. He had, however, said that they would visit the children later this week.
General Raheel Sharif attended a commemorative service held at Peshawar's Army Public School earlier this week, in honour of those who had lost their lives during the attack.
Strict security arrangements were seen in place for the re-opening of APS in Peshawar. The Army Public School management told Dawn that psychological counselling sessions would be given to staff and students till Jan 17, whereas regular academic session would begin from Jan 19.
Information minister lashes out at Imran
Speaking to media representatives outside the Parliament House, Pervaiz Rashid said that due to his negative approach in politics, Imran Khan today had to face 'Go Imran Go' slogans when he arrived at APS Peshawar for a visit.
He said the PTI Chief is in fact creating hurdles in the way of implementing the national agenda of eliminating terrorism.
Imran bewildered by school protests
Holding a press conference on Wednesday after visiting the Army Public School, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that he was happy to see the passion and high morale of the students, adding he would visit the homes of the victims who died in the Dec 16 Taliban attack.
|Imran Khan during the press conference in Peshawar - DawnNews Screen grab|
Khan underscored that he will not let education in the country be affected by terrorism.
"The terrorists did not want our children to go to school," he said. "My aim of visiting the school today was to tell students that we stand united with them."
He also said that he doesn't understand the reason behind protests staged against him outside the school, saying that the school is run by the army whereas he and his party are provincial leaders in KP.
Regarding security measures for all 65,000 schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Khan said that the KP provincial government does not have the means for providing security to all schools.
The PTI leader also addressed the issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), stating that the responsibility of IDPs has been placed entirely on the KP government.
"We need assistance in the rehabilitation of IDPs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," said Khan.