PM Nawaz vows revenge one year after APS attack

Published: December 16, 2015


PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, speaking  beneath portraits of children killed by Taliban bullets, called on Wednesday for vengeance as the country marked the first anniversary of a school massacre that killed 151 people in its worst-ever extremist attack.

Families of the victims along with military and political leaders attended an emotional ceremony at the army-run school in the north-western city of Peshawar to mark the assault, which mostly claimed the lives of schoolchildren and has been termed a “mini-9/11” for the country.

Relatives were accompanied by students bearing images of their loved ones as they spoke one by one of children with bright smiles who worried about their hair and handwriting but had dreams of being artists and engineers.

Many of the parents broke down on seeing students in the Army Public School uniforms, an AFP reporter said.

NA declares APS massacre a crime against humanity

“My children, today I make this promise to you, that I will take revenge for every drop of your blood,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, addressing the victims directly.

But angry and distraught parents told AFP nothing could bring back their children, with many reiterating calls for a judicial inquiry into the security failings that led to the attack.

“They can’t stop the tears of my wife,” said Jamal Abdul Nasir, breaking down into tears himself as he remembered his son Awais. “We want nothing, only justice.”

At least a dozen families boycotted Wednesday’s ceremony in protest.

A soldier conducts a security check of a family on their way to attend a ceremony to mark the first anniversary of the APS attack in Peshawar on December 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Powerful military chief Raheel Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan also attended the ceremony. A military official told AFP there were some 2,500 guests including celebrities and sports stars.

“We think a lot about the students who lost their lives,” Abu Bakar, a teacher who was shot three times as he threw himself in front of fleeing children during the siege, told AFP, saying the loss was “something that cannot be described”.

“This should not have happened to them. They were innocent students,” he said.

Groups in other major cities organised their own vigils, while on social media, many Pakistanis changed their profile pictures to an image depicting an APS uniform with a bloody bullet hole and a caption reading: “Some stains don’t wash out”.

Schools, colleges to remain closed on APS attack anniversary

The Taliban have said they carried out the attack, in which all nine gunmen died, in retaliation for an army offensive on extremists in the tribal areas.

But the attack hardened public opinion against extremism and prompted a military-led crackdown that has improved security. This year is on course for the fewest deaths linked to extremist violence since 2007, the year the Pakistani Taliban were formed.

Sharif said he hoped the day was “not very far when these terrorists will be eliminated forever and every corner of Pakistan will be a place of peace and prosperity”.

However critics say there are no long-term steps to eradicate extremism.

“We’re halting the growth of the cancer but not addressing why we keep getting it,” lawyer and activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir told AFP.

Belongings of people who died in the APS attack displayed in a library in Peshawar on December 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

In Peshawar residents held their own ceremonies and candlelit vigils as the area around the school was designated a red zone, with army helicopters hovering as hundreds of soldiers guarded main junctions.

One year on, a veneer of normality has returned to the Peshawar school, where children play while soldiers stand atop recently fortified walls.

But the trauma lingers for many, with parents of the slain children saying they are still seeking answers about how the security apparatus could have failed them so completely.

Parents who spoke to AFP said the government’s compensation efforts were useless.

PM approves naming 122 schools after APS victims

“I only want an answer to my question… Why did the state fail to protect my child?” said one parent who would only identify himself as the father of Hamid Ali Khan.

Parents also protested at a later ceremony organised by the provincial government, demanding an inquiry as Imran Khan tried to speak.

Khan later promised to do “whatever we can do” for the parents.

In August, after a military trial behind closed doors, the army announced that six militants linked to the Peshawar assault would be executed, while a seventh was given a life sentence. Four were hanged on December 2.

Teachers and students told AFP that education was their best revenge.

“The Taliban want us to quit our studies and become ignorant like them,” 13-year-old Uzair Khan told AFP.

“We don’t want to do that. God willing, we will continue our education, move forward and avenge them.”

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Khurram
    Dec 16, 2015 - 4:04PM

    and how do we celebrate Dhaka Fall which also occurred on the same date, it is a celebration date because on this date Punjab was liberated from the democratic possession of East PakistanRecommend

  • Uza Syed
    Dec 16, 2015 - 4:12PM

    Sir, Mr. Prime Minister, I find it hard to know what is your true stand, the real, true face behind the persona. What you say now as opposed to your position vis-a-vis the demons we faced and were victimized by. Didn’t you call the barbarians our own, the same killer’s who murdered our innocent teachers and our beloved school going children, were your favourites for peace initiative at their condition. Please. Let us see your true self without the mask.Recommend

  • Bisma
    Dec 16, 2015 - 4:24PM

    We have to take revenge of thisRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Dec 16, 2015 - 5:21PM

    I will take revenge for every drop of your blood,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said, addressing the victims directly.

    Neither shallow statements of revenge nor carpet bombing of the tribal land, are likely to restore peace among the people but a dialogue and the reconciliation course is the only path towards peace for all.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • nadeem
    Dec 16, 2015 - 5:42PM

    This government’s progress on the National Action Plan is pathetic. 1 year down the road, barely a few action items in that plan have seen light of day. Recommend

  • Daud
    Dec 16, 2015 - 6:22PM

    Dear mothers,we cannot bring back your sons and nothing can console you but believe us they are in a place far better than this world. You used to wait for them at home and now, they are awaiting you. Accept our heartiest greetings: your flowers have transitioned to become the flowers of Heaven.Recommend

  • San
    Dec 16, 2015 - 6:53PM

    He realized this one year later?Recommend

  • Point
    Dec 16, 2015 - 8:44PM

    Had there been police check posts. Police would have been made accountable, many police constables would have been transferred or dismissed. But everyone knows that Peshawar via badhaber, tribal area and Nowshera is surrounded by huge amount of army checkposts who create huge lanes of rush each day. But then why isnt army questioned for this!!!! Why is there no CCTV photage of the terrorist vehicle, whether it passed after being checked or was it allowed to pass without even checked. Recommend

  • Lakhkar Khan
    Dec 16, 2015 - 9:29PM

    What is Imran Niazi, Taliban’s ally, doing in the ceremony? Recommend

  • Farrukh
    Dec 16, 2015 - 10:37PM

    Every human heart sinks down in grief on this biggest ever tragedy in history of mankind . wounds are unhealable ,tears are may never stop. No consolation or compensation can be substitute for the lives of young angels. The nation must have to mend thoughts. Learn to be good humans first. Terrorist acts have been executed not by illiterates but many such horrific acts were done by educated youths from good and decent background.
    What is that which drifts them from dignified lives to heartless cruel beasts! The entire nation has to fig down to the roots of evil and destroy the root cause. It will be long term exercise but not impossible.
    Allah protect Pakistan and save us all from all evils . ameen.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Dec 16, 2015 - 11:49PM

    This was the one day schools should have remained OPEN… that children would understand that going to school IS important.Recommend

  • Bunty
    Dec 17, 2015 - 1:55AM

    Nawaz Sharif promising revenge the same way he promised to bring back Zardari’s loot from abroad. He also promised an economic atom bomb. This guy is nothing but a pathetic liar for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Nasir
    Dec 17, 2015 - 2:39AM

    Wipe them out – show no mercy as they have not shown us an mercy – they are a cancer and we must finish them once and for all Recommend

  • Dec 17, 2015 - 4:48AM

    You need medications. See a psychiatrist,…urgently.Recommend

  • Dec 17, 2015 - 4:54AM

    @Lakhkar Khan:
    Taliban Khan? He is in the photograph?
    Can’t see him. Maybe he is invisible?
    Well, maybe Mr. Reham Khan is on way to
    beg forgiveness from Reham?Recommend

  • Khan. I (Canada)
    Dec 17, 2015 - 5:50AM

    Peshawar incident was terrible and shocking but what about the terrorism in Lahore by Punjab Government when Fourteen P.A.T workers were brutally shot dead and dozens injured and no one is punished so far.
    I like to ask Mr Nawaz Sharif, where is justice for these 14 unfortunate people killed in Lahore and why it is not taken so seriously when hundreds of Hazara are killed in Quetta.Recommend

  • Azam Khan
    Dec 17, 2015 - 8:18AM

    Nawaz has a Ph.D in taking revenge when it is personal.Recommend

  • M.S.
    Dec 17, 2015 - 8:30AM

    A leader should never use word “Revenge “. State doesn’t take revenge, it provides justice.Recommend

  • Jerry
    Dec 17, 2015 - 8:54AM

    This massacre of innocent children was planned in Bharat who provided intelligence, training and ammunition. Taliban were only there to execute the plan. Why the GOP has been silent on this and did not raise this with friendly countries and united nations.Recommend

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