PESHAWAR: Muhammad Iqbal, a dental technician, was engrossed in his work on December 16, 2014, when his mobile phone rang.
“I received a phone call saying a shoot-out was taking place at the Army Public School (APS) campus,” said Iqbal, adding he was informed some people had opened fire at each other over a personal feud. “The first thought that came to my mind was of Zain. I scurried to the school on my bike and saw children from the kindergarten section being evacuated from the campus,” he said.
Iqbal remembered not seeing a single college student amongst the lot—a sight that instilled fear in his heart. With constant gunfire rattling his senses, there was absolutely no news of his beloved son Zain.
“A phone call from Combined Military Hospital (CMH) informed him that Zain had sustained minor injuries and was at the hospital,” Iqbal recalled. But the relief the news brought was only short-lived. Upon reaching CMH, Iqbal was handed over the body of his progeny.
Muhammad Zain Iqbal, a resident of Gulberg, was a second year college student at APS. An accomplished squash player, Zain was also a consistent academic achiever and had topped school in the first year of college.
“He maintained a record of the countless certificates he received over the years,” shared Iqbal. His son was at the physics laboratory for an exam when his world was torn apart. “They shot him and his classmates in the lab,” Iqbal said, adding he had three children—two boys and a girl. Zain was the youngest.
“The school reopened on Monday. I attended the morning assembly and stood where only until a few weeks ago Zain used to,” said the bereaved father. “What threat could innocent children possibly pose to anyone?” he questioned.
Iqbal is of the belief that the APS attack has drawn the decisive line and that the perpetrators will soon meet their fate. “No one has ever butchered harmless children this way. It is Karbala for us,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2015.