PESHAWAR: A candlelight vigil was held here on Saturday evening on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Dec 2014 Army Public School attack, which killed 144 students and staff members.
Besides parents and relatives of the martyred students, noted civil society activists Sana Ijaz, Dr Said Alam Mehsud and Fazl Khan also attended the event at the Shuhada APS memorial put up on the premises of the archives library.
The parents displayed pictures of the martyred students and lit candles.
Main functions to mark the fourth anniversary of the massacre will be held at the APS and archives library today (Sunday).
Sana Ijaz told Dawn that arrangements had been made for the function at the archives hall. “Most parents have displayed the pictures of their martyred sons inside and outside the archives hall,” she said.
Meanwhile, central president of Awami National Party Asfandyar Wali Khan said the deep wounds caused by the brutal killing of APS students hadn’t healed even four years after the attack.
“One of the killers of those innocent students has now been treated as a state guest, while their parents have been pushed from pillar to post for justice,” he said in a statement issued here.
The ANP leader said the state had failed to bring before the nation the actual motive behind the massacre.
“Peace can’t be restored in the country until the elimination of safe heavens and sanctuaries of terrorists,” he said.
Mr Asfandyar said had the state taken action against terrorists, the acts of terrorism at the Bacha Khan University Charsadda and Agriculture Research Centre, Peshawar, would have been averted.
ANP central general secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the images of APS carnage were imprinted on his mind.
He said on Dec 16, 2014, he had seen bodies of students wrapped in blood-stained shrouds at the CMH and that those scenes would remain with the parents and witnesses in particular and society in general forever.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan said the sacrifices of the APS students would always be remembered.
In a statement issued here, the chief minister said the students’ sacrifices showed the resilience of Pakistanis against terrorism.
“The Dec 2014 incident showed the brutality of terrorists’ mindset. The terrorists targeted innocent children inside an educational institution and thus, exposing their nefarious designs against humanity, education and knowledge,” he said.
Mr Mehmood said after the APS attack, the security forces and the entire nation got united to eliminate terrorism from the society.
He said the Dec 16 attack was very tragic for the parents of martyred students and the whole nation.
The chief minister said the government and security institutions were on one page to execute the National Action Plan for the complete elimination of terrorists and terrorism.
He said the government had successfully played its role for the NAP’s execution.
“We suffered and made sacrifices, which were recognised at international level,” he said. Mr Mahmood promised all-out support to the families of APS martyrs and praised for bearing the loss with patience and fortitude.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018