Nation remembers APS martyrs on seventh anniversary

Imran says govt will never let down survivors, opposition leaders demand justice


Our Correspondent December 16, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

The nation marked the seventh anniversary of the heart-wrenching terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar with sombre ceremonies on Thursday in remembrance of more than 140 children and APS staffers, who lost their lives in the attack.

The political leadership of the country, in their messages on the occasion, expressed complete solidarity with the survivors of the attack and the parents of the martyred children and urged the nation to remain united against the elements trying to spawn discord and prejudice in the society.

On December 14, 2014, 131 schoolchildren and 10 other people were martyred when heavily armed militants stormed the school and fired at children who were attending classes at the time. Later the government launched a 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) to defeat terrorism.

In his message on the seventh anniversary of the tragic incident, Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the nation to stay firmly united against the elements trying to spread discord and prejudice on sectarian, religious and ethnic lines.

He said the nation should identify those elements in their ranks and help the state eradicate them. The prime minister said that time had proved that terrorism had no religion or nation rather it was a cowardly mindset that could even use children to fulfil their sordid designs.

Imran said that the sacrifices of APS martyrs had not gone in vain. Following this despicable incident, the Pakistani nation got united and confronted the menace with firm resolve, he said, adding that the enemy was targeted and eliminated in their dens under NAP.

In a separate tweet, Prime Minister Imran reiterated that the government would never let down the survivors and parents of the martyred children. He said there was zero tolerance for violence and those using it as a tool. He added that Pakistan had successfully defeated terrorism.

Defence Minister Parvez Khattak, who was the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the time of incident, said in his message that all the students and faculty members who embraced martyrdom were “our heroes”. He paid rich tribute to the courage of the parents and express solidarity with them.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement that the cowardly miscreants attacked the future of the nation – the unarmed minors – and martyred them. “Despite the passage of seven years, the nation could not forget the tragedy of the Army Public School,” he said.

“As a nation we have come a long way to defeat terrorism, we are moving towards lasting peace and development in Pakistan,” the minister said. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the martyrs’ souls in eternal peace and grant patience to their families.

National Assembly Opposition Leader and President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet on the seventh anniversary of the APS tragedy called December 16 a painful day for the nation. “Our hearts bleed in memory of this horrible day,” Shahbaz said in a tweet.

“Have we learned any lessons and corrected our course. When will we sincerely put our heads together for better future of our children?” the PML-N president asked. “There are too many questions but too few answers,” he said.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the nation still felt the pain of “this great tragedy”, adding that “everyone was still waiting for justice to be served to the innocent souls.” He also demanded that the “beasts” who carried out the massacre be brought to justice.

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in a tweet said that We all need soul searching on this tragedy. “We as a state and as citizens need to do much more to ensure that such a tragedy is never repeated. Our priorities, policies and approach all need to be revised accordingly,” she added.

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, the founder of the Minhaj-ul-Quran International and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) said in a message that the APS tragedy could never be forgotten. He said that extremism and terrorism is the biggest menaces of this era, and urged the state to use it resources to end violence.

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