PESHAWAR: Amid moving scenes the fourth anniversary of the Army Public School carnage was observed on Sunday with different programmes held as state functionaries visited the school to pay homage to the martyrs.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood and others visited the APS to attend a ceremony, including Fateha Khwani for the 144 persons mostly students who had fallen victim to the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history on Dec 16, 2014.

They placed floral wreaths at a memorial established inside the APS Peshawar to commemorate the sacrifices of the martyrs. Later, they joined the ill-fated families. Schoolchildren and staffers held Quran Khwani on the school premises.

Functions organised across province to pay tribute to the martyrs

During interaction with the families, the governor said the entire nation stood with the bereaved families. He said that the APS tragedy united the nation against terrorism and a joint plan was chalked out to counter terrorists.

In another programme held at the APS Shuhada Library under the aegis of Shuhada Forum, the parents spoke out their minds as several of them bursts into tears.

Some of them said that they had still been awaiting answers to some of their questions regarding the occurrence despite the lapse of four years as they wanted to know whose negligence resulted into the brutal incident.

In their heart-wrenching speeches on the occasion, they demanded justice for the martyred children. They criticised the silence on part of the government over the detention of a former spokesman for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Ihsanullah Ihsan, and demanded of the government to hang him publically.

The relatives showered rose petals on the pictures of martyred students printed on a large banner displayed inside the hall. A gloomy atmosphere and pin-drop silence gripped the hall when a father of a martyred student pulled down the picture of Ihsanullah Ihsan which was on one of the posters displayed there to condemn the attack and tore it into pieces.

One of the parents, Tariq Jan who had lost his two sons in the APS attack, while addressing the participants said that his sons’ school charged security fee from him then why the security personnel were missing on that fateful day.

“Who killed my sons and why? It is my question from the state,” Mr Jan said in a choked voice. The parents wanted to know about the killers of their sons, he said. What sin the students had committed for which they were mercilessly killed? he asked and left the stage.

Civil society activist Sana Ijaz demanded of the government to award exemplary punishment to the killers of the students. “Today is the fourth anniversary of the gruesome attack, but the grief would not lessen even after 20 years until the killers are punished,” she said.

Radesh Singh Tony, a human rights activist, said that killing of the students was not only the grief of the parents rather the whole country was in grief on this tragic day. He regretted that despite the lapse of four years the parents were still running from pillar to post seeking justice.

Barrister Usman Ali, who came from Canada to participate in the anniversary function, said that the powers that be were confusing the nation in the name of fifth generation war. “The nation and parents would remain confused until they are told about the reasons for killing of the innocent souls (students),” he said.

MNA Mohsin Dawar said that on every December 16 images of the bloodbath came to the minds. “A human being couldn’t think of such cruelties,” he said and added that Pakhtun culture, language, customs and laws were attacked in the war on terror.

ANP central secretary general Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that all stakeholders, including political and military leadership and civil society, had agreed on 20-point National Action Plan, but unfortunately it was not implemented in letter and spirit.

Chief of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement Manzoor Ahmad Pashteen, Dr Said Alam Mehsud and MNA Ali Wazir also spoke on the occasion.

Programmes were also held in this connection across the province to pay tribute the APS martyrs.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2018