Parents complain of delay in APS attack probe

17 May 2015


Parents of the students of Army Public School, hold a press conference in Peshawar.— Online
Parents of the students of Army Public School, hold a press conference in Peshawar.— Online

PESHAWAR: Parents of the students killed by terrorists last year in the Army Public School attack have complained the federal government has yet to hold a judicial inquiry into the killings and support the families of the slain school staff members.

“If the government does not pinpoint through an judicial commission inquiry the officials, who were responsible for the security lapse on Dec 16, 2014, we will protest in front of Parliament House on June 16,” said Abid Raza Bangash, who lost teenage son in the APS attack.

The man heads the ‘APS Martyrs and Ghazi Forum,’ which was set up by parents of the slain schoolchildren to press the government for punishing school attackers and the officials, who failed to counter the attack.

The forum has been holding press conferences from time to time to reiterate its demand that the government hold judicial inquiry into the school killings to ensure that their children’s sacrifice doesn’t go to waste.

Threaten protest outside Parliament House on June 16

The forum held another news conference on Saturday afternoon at the Peshawar Press Club, where posters and framed photos of their slain children were also displayed.

Five months have gone since the country’s most horrific attack killed around 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, parents of the deceased seemed as grief-stricken, drained and helpless as they were after the APS attack.

Visibly-disturbed fathers and misty-eyed mothers strongly felt the government’s repeated claims to avenge their children’s killing and restoring peace were false as it hadn’t held a judicial inquiry so far to pinpoint those responsible for security lapse, which led to the APS attack.

They said it was sad that officials and even politicians had no courage as none of them resigned over the massive terrorist attack.

Parents alleged that not only Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had been saying things he didn’t mean as he’s shown through actions, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, too, had forgotten all about his promise to fight for dispensation of justice to them.

Andaleeb, an APS lecturer, who lost teenage son in the attack, poured her heart out as she mentioned how difficult it was for her to go back to the school and realise that her son was no more there.

“Every day I go to school to find solace but as I come, I die a little every day,” she said sharing her grief with other parents.

Andaleeb narrated how the APS has lost some fine teachers, including Shehnaz, Mohammad Saeed, Nawab Ali, Hajira and Sadia, in the attack.

She also made a mention of a very kind clerk, Shafique, whose four children currently face problems in paying for their education.

She also mentioned how the old mother of slain gatekeeper Mohammad Bilal was doing duty in school to provide for the family and his infant born four months after Bilal’s killing.

Andaleeb said families of the slain staffers didn’t get any pension or salary since APS was not a federal or army institution but a private school.

She demanded that the families of those who were killed in the attack be financially supported by the federal government.

Andaleeb said though she was aware that she could be sacked for speaking for the rights of the families of the slain staffers, she had to raise voice for them as they’re in need.

She urged Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to support such families.

“Those teachers gave 21 years of their life to this college. They died along with schoolchildren. The clerk, the watchman and Principal Mrs. Tahira Qazi, all gave their lives on duty. The government should take care of their families like they took care of the schoolchildren during the attack,” said Andaleeb.

Other parents said they had been keeping the APS attack alive so that they could pressure the government to take steps for the safety of other children.

They said they wanted a fair judicial inquiry into the attack so that those responsible for negligence could be punished.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2015

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