‘Eight years and still awaiting justice’: Parents of APS martyrs march in Peshawar

Published December 16, 2022
Parents of APS martyrs gather at Peshawar’s Khyber Road on Friday. — Photo by Sirajuddin
Parents of APS martyrs gather at Peshawar’s Khyber Road on Friday. — Photo by Sirajuddin

Parents of the students martyred in Peshawar’s 2014 Army Public School attack took to the streets on Friday and held a protest rally.

In the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history, nearly 150 people were killed, most of them schoolchildren, when heavily armed militants stormed into the army-run school.

On the eighth anniversary of the carnage today, parents of the students martyred in the attack — who had gathered at the school for an event — blocked the Khyber Road for traffic.

They commenced the protest march from the APS and walked to Warsak Road. The protesters wanted to talk to the Peshawar corps commander but they were stopped by the police.

“We are peaceful and want to present our demands and grievances to the concerned high-ups,” Muhammad Tahir Khan, father of a martyred student and one of the protesters, told Dawn.com.

“We have been waiting for justice for the past eight years. But it is unfortunate that no one has been able to do anything for us.”

He said that they had been demanding a public holiday on December 16. “But despite repeated promises, our demands were not met.”

Tahir claimed that the police forcibly stopped them and allegedly misbehaved with another protester, whose son was killed in the attack.

 Cars line up at the Khyber Road after protest in Peshawar on Friday. — Photo by Sirajuddin
Cars line up at the Khyber Road after protest in Peshawar on Friday. — Photo by Sirajuddin

He further complained that no one from the government and concerned higher-ups attended the APS event.

Later, officials of the district administration reached the spot and began talks with the protesters. They have also blocked one track of the Khyber road leading to traffic jams.

‘Wounds still fresh’

Remembering the deadly attack earlier today, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Dec 16 was the day for the entire country to “stand united against terrorism”.

In a tweet, he said: “This day is a message to the whole world that Pakistan has made great sacrifices to eradicate terrorism.

“This struggle of ours is going on and it will continue with the same iron will and perseverance until this monster is completely eliminated,” the premier added.

He said that the pain of the tragedy was unforgettable even after eight years and paid tribute to the martyrs and their families. “The Pakistani nation will never forget the sacrifices of its martyrs.”

President Dr Arif Alvi said that even after eight years, memories of the poignant attack were “fresh in our hearts”.

“Dec 16 will always remind us of the martyrs and their sacrifices,” a statement released by the President’s Secretariat quoted him as saying.

Alvi added that the entire nation was united to end terrorism, adding that nothing could dent this determination. He also prayed for the high ranks of the martyrs.

“This day also reminds the world that terrorism is a common problem which needs to be addressed collectively,” the president concluded.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the APS tragedy was one of the saddest events in the country’s history, adding that even after eight years the “wound is still fresh”.

He went on to say that Dec 16 would always be a reminder of the martyrs’ great sacrifices. “Today we pay tribute to the parents of the children and their brave teachers. We pray that God raises the ranks of the martyrs and bestows patience on their families,” he added.

PTI chairman Imran Khan also said that the nation would never forget Dec 16.

“It is also the day when we came together as a nation and resolved to take on and defeat terrorism,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, MNA Mohsin Dawar highlighted that the parents of the martyrs continue to demand justice.

“The terrorists responsible for the tragedy continue to attack and kill our people. The state’s policies have not changed. Justice has yet to be served.”

Bilawal reiterates resolve to eliminate terrorism

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue efforts for the eradication of terrorism, according to Radio Pakistan.

He made the remarks while addressing an event titled “Remembering Victims of Army Public School, Peshawar Terrorist Attack” at the UN headquarters.

“The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the so-called TTP, which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council and several member states,” FM Bilawal said. “The shock of this attack mobilised the Pakistani nation and motivated us to eliminate terrorism from our soil.”

Bilawal added that massive military operations were undertaken to wipe out terrorists from the country. “Unfortunately, the TTP and some other terrorist groups have found safe havens across the border from where they have been conducting periodic attacks against Pakistan’s military and civilian targets.”

He highlighted how India continued to try to discredit Pakistan by accusing it of terrorism. Bilawal added that Pakistan exposed India’s two-pronged policy on terrorism, vowing to hold India accountable for its acts of terrorism.

“Our intelligence agencies have concrete evidence of providing financial and organisational support and instructions to the TTP by agents of our neighbours.”

The PPP chairman said Pakistan has shared a comprehensive dossier containing concrete evidence of external support for the TTP.

“We hope and expect that the new authorities in Kabul will be able to prevent the TTP from carrying out cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan as they promised in the Doha Agreement and subsequent policy declarations.,” FM Bilawal said.

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