Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood talks to a relative of an APS attack victim during a function in Peshawar on Monday.
Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood talks to a relative of an APS attack victim during a function in Peshawar on Monday.

PESHAWAR: The fifth anniversary of the Dec 2014 attack on the Army Public School Peshawar was observed here on Monday amid tears and sobs of the students’ parents, who expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s claims of punishing the killers of 147 students and staff members and insisted that justice had yet not been dispensed to them.

The distressed parents wondered why the day was not observed on the national level and why the country’s flag was not lowered to half-mast as on Dec 16, 2014, Pakistan and rest of the world were shaken by the assassination of 122 students and 25 staff members of the APS.

The age old saying that time is the best healer has proved ineffective here as the fateful day reopened the wounds of the parents, who cried profusely in the memories of their beloved sons. Their grief is fresh even five years after the attack.

The parents showed up in a function held to observe the day at the Shuhad-i-Army Public School Library, where politicians and civil society activists were also in attendance.

The fifth anniversary of the 2014 attack was also observed on the APS campus to pay homage to the martyrs, said the Inter-Services Public Relations in a statement issued here.

Anniversary of 2014 school carnage marked amid tears and sobs

A contingent of Pakistan Army presented the guard of honour.

Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Nauman Mahmood laid a wreath at the martyrs’ monument and offered Fateha for the deceased.

Later, he joined the families of martyrs, schoolchildren, staff and residents for Quran khwani on school premises.

The commander also interacted with families of martyrs.

The anniversary was also observed in schools, colleges and universities across the province, where Quran khwani was held and prayers were offered for the deceased.

Addressing participants, Mehwish Tariq, a sister of two martyred students Shamraiz Tariq and Nangyal Tariq, said her parents and siblings had never gone to sleep at night without recalling the memories of the deceased.

“How the state and security agencies would have solaced us if we’re not Muslims because now we are made to believe that her siblings have embraced martyrdom,” she said in a choked voice.

The girl said her brothers had gone to the school and not to the battlefield, where they were brutally killed for no reason.

She asked who was to be held responsible for the assassination of her brothers, the government, security agencies or her family.

The girl questioned why the horrible day was not observed on the government level.

Nasreen Khattak of the Qaumi Watan Party said the judicial commission formed to probe the APS attack should complete its report without delay.

She said in rest of the world, such terrible incidents were observed on the national level but here the government didn’t bother to fly the national flag at half-mast.

When the moderator called provincial president of National Party Mukhtiar Bacha to address the gathering, the veteran politician came to the stage and left only saying who killed the students and why?

The father of the late Mashal Khan, Iqbal Lala, MNA Ali Wazir, rights activist Sana Ijaz, Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement leader Manzoor Pashteen and dozens of the relatives of the APS attack victims attended the function.

The students of University of Peshawar and activists of the civil society also staged a demonstration outside the Peshawar Press Club in connection with the fifth anniversary of the APS attack. They demanded of the government to implement the National Action Plan in letter and spirit to eliminate militancy from the country. The protesters also demanded the establishment of a public library in the name of martyred students.

The Taleemi Darna, a campaign launched for the promotion of education soon after APS attack, also held a demonstration against terrorist attacks on the educational institutions, including APS, Bacha Khan University Charsadda and Agriculture Training Institute Peshawar, and destruction of schools by militants.

Awami National Party central president Asfandyar Wali Khan said in a statement that though five years had passed after the APS attack, the relatives of martyrs continued to await justice.

He regretted that the real motives behind the APS attack couldn’t see the light of day in five years.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2019

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