The otherwise festive literary event was marred by grief on Saturday.
Psychiatrist Ayesha Mian and Oxford University Press director and Islamabad Literature Festival (ILF) founder, Ameena Saiyid held a conversation with the survivors of the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar massacre.
Initiating the conversation, Mian said it was necessary that they discuss what helped motivate survivors move forward with their lives.
“After the incident I never thought I’d be able to go back to school again. But the love and affection that people from all across the country showed us is beyond words,” Maaz, a student injured in the December 17 attack, said. “We will remain firm, we’ve all resolved to continue our studies because that is the only way we can defeat these terrorists”, the young student said.
Maaz shared that though a bullet had injured the hand he writes with, he still took his matriculation examination earlier this month.
The mention of students having to take their board exams after going through such a traumatic incident steered the conversation into a discussion arguing whether it was a wise decision on the part of the board to have given due consideration to the issue.
“We requested the education board and took the matter to the chief minister, but no one was ready to pay heed. We were out on the streets protesting, seeking attention but no one joined us,” lamented student coordinator accompanying the survivors, Qaiser Ali.
Ali said that politicians and bureaucrats were just cashing in on [the suffering of] the APS survivors. “Instead of legislating they have kept their differences alive,” he said adding that, “unless we unite under one banner, we will not be able to progress.”
In a separate session, Mustansar Hussain Tarar also paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the APS massacre.
He also read an excerpt from one of his stories “Aye Meray Tarkhaan” from his upcoming compilation of short stories.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2015.
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