Pakistan marks First Anniversary of the Peshawar School Massacre in which 134 children were brutally killed
Pakistan marked the first anniversary of one of the deadliest in its history, with a somber memorial ceremony at the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar where over 150 people — most of them children — were gunned down by Taliban militants on Dec. 16 last year.
On the first anniversary of tragic event, Pakistanis at home and abroad united in commemorating the day. Prayers and memorials, vigils and protests were held all across country, TV and media devoted all their time to coverage of tragedy and interviews of victims’ families, while social media was overwhelming with words of solidarity and photos paying tribute to victims. All schools and colleges were closed on this day.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also announced that 122 schools and colleges would be renamed after the victims. Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan Army’s media arm, has released a new song sung by schoolchildren that pays tribute to the victims, conveying the message that “Education is the best revenge” and that we must “educate the children of our enemy” too.
A somber memorial ceremony was held on Wednesday, 16 Dec 2015, at the Army Public School in Peshawar. Hundreds joined the ceremony held at school to pay tribute to the young martyrs. The service was attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif, opposition leader Imran Khan and several other top dignitaries.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday declared December 16 the day of ‘national educational resolve’. Addressing the ceremony to mark a year to the deadly APS massacre, the prime minister also announced the construction of APS University in remembrance of the 144 children and teachers who lost their lives as Taliban gunmen stormed the school on this day last year.
“We will take revenge for every drop of blood of our innocent children,” the premier said.
The prime minister vowed to permanently uproot the menace of terrorism from the country. “Time has come to uproot terrorism from the country,” he said, while adding that “a dialogue process can only be initiated with human beings.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan military continue the Zarb-e-Azb military operation against terrorists, concentrating its efforts in the northwestern tribal regions and in Karachi city. The military operations have proved to be successful as terrorist attacks overall have greatly diminished since last year.
Families struggle in year after Peshawar School Attack
Public anger and outcry over the Dec. 16 terrorist attack has prompted Pakistan government and military to ramp up antiterrorism operations.
But sill there is much grief and anger about the attacks in public.
One year after the Peshawar attack, families of children killed or wounded in the school massacre say the local government has broken its promise to help pay for medical treatment. Many children were disfigured or crippled in the attack and need continuous, long-term treatment and psychological rehabilitation, relatives of victims urged on first death anniversary of their loved ones.
“I can never forget that day. We are still traumatized. There were dead bodies all over the place. I was fortunate to have escaped the massacre, but my brother couldn’t,” Zakariya Aijaz, a student of Peshawar’s Army Public School said.
To share each other’s grief, an informal network of around 70 victim families regularly meet to remember their children, check on each other, and provide the support no one else could, they said. “This is the best therapy we’ve had. When we talk to each other, we understand because we lost our children that day,” said Ms. Khan. “We’re a family now, and our grief is our bond.”