PESHAWAR: Like all parents, Muhammad Tufail Khattak had hopes and aspirations for his son Sher Shah but he was not one to impose them on the teenager; Sher had complete freedom in his life choices, a right that was mercilessly snatched from him at the young age of 15.
Militants stormed Army Public School (APS) on December 16, killing 150 people, a majority of them schoolchildren. Later the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the massacre.
Sher was among the students who fell to the Taliban’s guns that tragic day. His father Khattak is still struggling to deal with the loss and the family seems to have fallen into a permanent state of grief.
“I had so many dreams for my son and was always concerned about his future. We raise our children with so much care but it was so easy for the terrorists to take them away from us,” says Khattak while speaking to The Express Tribune.
According to the father, even Sher had been troubled by the failing law and order in the country and was afraid his ambitions might be left unfulfilled.
“Baba, I have so many wishes. I want to be a good student, a good rider and hunter but the way things are, I don’t see my dreams coming true,” Sher had said to his father a few days before the school attack.
“He told me he didn’t want to lose himself in the chaos. Just a few days later, he was brutally killed by terrorists,” says Khattak with tears rolling down his face. “They have turned our world upside down. There is nothing but darkness and in this darkness all I think about are the hopes I had for Sher and how they have been quashed.”
Following Sher’s death, Khattak has become even more worried about his other son Ahmad Shah who is named after the great Pukhtun king Ahmad Shah Abdali. “I used to think the sky is the limit for my children but now I fear for Ahmad. Will his life be safe, will he be able to fulfil his dreams?” wonders the grieving father.
Khattak had moved to Peshawar city from his village in Cherat hills to ensure his children had access to quality education and opportunities to live a fulfilling life. He did not, could not, foresee that his bright and talented son would fall prey to militants so young.
The Lion King
Sher was named after the famed Pukhtun ruler Sher Shah Suri.
“I believed my son was destined to be a great person, someone who works for the betterment of society and brings light into the lives of those touched by darkness,” says Khattak.
According to Khattak, Sher was fond of his Pukhtun culture and history. He loved poetry, read up on world history, discussed politics with his friends and participated in debate competitions.
“I was so proud of how intelligent my son was. I still am,” says Khattak. “He was mature beyond his age and I’m certain had he lived he would have done great things and made me prouder.”
The father is grateful for all the support he has received from his fellow countrymen who share his grief and condemn militancy.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2014.
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