'APS carnage will never be forgotten,' COAS, President say on 5th anniversary of horrific attack

Updated 16 Dec 2019

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On Dec 16, 2014, six terrorists affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan conducted the attack on the school and killed 131 schoolchildren and 10 staff members. — AP/File
On Dec 16, 2014, six terrorists affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan conducted the attack on the school and killed 131 schoolchildren and 10 staff members. — AP/File

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, on the fifth anniversary of the Army Public School (APS) attack, said the carnage will never be forgotten.

On Dec 16, 2014, six terrorists affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan carried out the horrific attack on the school and killed 132 innocent students and 17 staff members.

In a tweet on Monday via the Inter-Services Public Relations account, Gen Bajwa stated: "Five of the involved terrorists have been hanged through military courts. Salute to martyrs and their families."

"We have come a long way in failing terrorism as a nation. United we move towards lasting peace and prosperity of Pakistan," he said.

President Arif Alvi in his message said the nation "cannot forget the massacre of little angels/teachers". "Hard to commemorate this day without tears in one's eyes. In its remembrance, we reiterate our pledge to root out terrorism and extremism in all its manifestations from our country," he said.

In his message on the fifth anniversary of the APS attack, Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "The blood of the innocent united the nation against all forms of extremism, terrorism, violence and hatred."

In a statement shared by the Prime Minister's Office, the premier said that today is a day to remember and pray for the survivors and the victims of the attack.

"On this day while paying tribute to our young martyrs, we also laud the sacrifices of our armed forces, police and law-enforcing agencies in the fight against the scourge of terrorism.

"We pledge on this day not to allow any militant mindset to take our country and the nation hostage to its bigoted vision," he said.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said December 16 is "the blackest day in the country's history".

"Pained by the soul-searing memories of APS tragedy," he said.

"Scars of the martyrdom of innocent schoolchildren of APS left on the heart and soul are hard to erase, a pain that time cannot heal. My heartfelt condolences to all the families," the PML-N president added.

While addressing an event in Islamabad, Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa said the APS attack shook the entire nation and made the country reconsider its approach to tackling terrorism.

"The lesson that we get from the Army Public School incident taking place on this very day some years ago is that [it] was an incident which shook us all and it shook us out of this slumber.

"It, in fact, prompted us to reconsider our approaches. Terrorism was going on for many many years before that incident. But that was the incident when we realised that enough is enough and we as a nation then decided that we have to do something about it," he said.

The chief justice said the National Action Plan was conceived and the whole nation had supported the effort.

"When we get together on one agenda, the entire nation, then we can work wonders," he said.

In his message, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said: "The sacrifices of the students and teachers martyred in the APS attack will always be remembered”.

In a press release issued on Monday, he stated that the wounds from the deadly attack are still fresh despite the passage of five years. “The martyrs united the entire country in the fight against terrorism," he said.

He maintained that we must eliminate terrorists in order to curb acts of terrorism such as the attack on APS.

"A day that can never be forgotten — a tragedy so intense it shook the nation to its core — the APS terror attack that took away the lives of so many innocent children along with their teachers," Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said on Twitter.

"Tears and prayers are all we have left alongside a resolve to ensure 'never again'," she said.

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called it "a travesty" that the APS commission report hasn’t been released even now.

"It is a failure of the state that justice has not been served. Its inexcusable that the National Action Plan (NAP) still isn't implemented," he said. "As a victim of terrorism, one who has yet to find justice, I know the pain of all those who lost loved ones. And to them I say, I am with you."

MNA Ali Wazir said "the pain is very deep and cannot be erased from our minds".

"Each peaceful day in Pakistan is a tribute to our youngest soldiers ... we have not forgotten," said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari.

A dark day for Pakistan

On Dec 16, 2014, armed militants stormed APS, Peshawar, and carried out the deadliest attack in the country's recent history.

The militants, wearing paramilitary uniforms, scaled the school's rear wall on Warsak Road using ladders and cut the barbed wire along the top of the wall. Once inside the school, they opened fire in all directions.

The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the outlawed Mullah Fazlullah-led Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. The attack on APS saw a shift in public opinion on the country's struggle against militancy.

In the aftermath of the attack, the army intensified Operation Zarb-e-Azb in tribal areas where militants had previously operated with impunity, and the government announced to launch the sweeping National Action Plan to tackle militancy.