PESHAWAR: The fifth anniversary of the horrible attack on the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar, will be observed on Monday.
On Dec 16, 2014, six terrorists affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan conducted the attack on the school and killed 132 innocent students and 17 staff members.
In the memories of their beloved martyred sons, the parents held a candlelit vigil on the APS Shuhada Memorial located outside the Peshawar Archives Library on Sunday.
Moving scenes were witnessed during the vigil and mourning procession as several mothers burst into tears while watching the pictures of their martyred children and discussing their memories.
The parents also organised Quran Khwani on the Archives Library’s premises and prayed to Allah to rest the departed souls in Jannatul Firdaus.
A big banner with the pictures of the martyred students was displayed on the APS Shuhada Hall.
A total of 132 students and 17 staff members died in Taliban attack
The parents also held banners and pictures of their martyred children during the mourning procession, which emerged from the Archives Library and culminated at the Peshawar Press Club.
“We have not forgotten the martyrs of the APS tragedy,” read a banner.
On Monday, the main official programme will be held on the APS campus to be attended by parents of the martyrs. High-ups of the army and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government are also likely to attend the event.
Other programmes will be held in the APS Shuhada Hall in the Archives Library and Islamia College University, Peshawar.
Remembering the martyrs, Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on Sunday paid his respects to the victims of the APS attack and said that the nation will always remember the tragedy.
In a statement issued here on Sunday, he recalled that the attack had united the nation in its fight against terrorism.
Mr Sherpao said his party shared the grief of the bereaved families and prayed to Allah Almighty to grant them the courage and fortitude to bear this loss with equanimity.
“The nation is still in a state of shock and grief over the brazen attack in which innocent schoolchildren were targeted,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari paid rich tribute to the innocent martyrs of APS.
In his message, the PPP leader said that extremism and terrorism were the enemies of peace and human development. Those who facilitated and sponsored the scourge of terrorism had committed crimes against humanity and it was the responsibility of the nation to say ‘never again’.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that extremism and terrorism had been used as a tool to advance certain vested interests and impose specific agendas in an attempt to hold the citizens hostage to constant fear.
He said the PPP had always maintained its stance against terrorism and had been bold and clear in its message that the people of Pakistan deserved to live their lives, free from threats to personal and religious freedoms. The PPP had suffered greatly for its stand as its leadership and workers were martyred in this fight against authoritarianism in all its forms, he added.
He said killing of innocent children at the APS Peshawar would continue to haunt Pakistan and remain as a black spot in the history of the nation unless “we fight back against the forces that not just commit but also aid and abet terrorism”.
Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2019