By Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)
The topic of the article was suggested by my gloomy youngest daughter, Maidah. During my military service of Peshawar, she happened to be the class fellow of one martyred who was targeted along with 148 others in Army Public School by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on 16 December 2014. Many other students and staff members were having close association with my other daughters. Nine staff members including one lady school teacher and a soldier were among the dead. Principal Tahira Qazi also embraced Shahdat while saving her students. Over 100 students have been injured as result of Taliban’s brutality.
The school on Peshawar’s Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs 146 schools nationwide for the children of military personnel and civilians. Its students range in age from around 10 to 18.
Seven trained insurgents wearing military uniform entered in the school and started shooting the children who were hiding themselves under the desks and the classrooms. The militants were fully equipped with explosive, suicidal jackets, guns, mines and other devises for blasting the school.
According to teenagers’ eyewitness, lady school teacher, wife of Brigadier Tariq was burnt alive since she was not letting the militants to kill the students. Wife of Major Jamshid along with her two children and son of Subedar Mazhar were killed by the ruthless terrorists.
Another student also revealed that when he crawled to the next room, it was horrible to see the dead body of our office assistant on fire. He said that she was sitting on the chair with blood dripping from her body as she burned.
It was not immediately clear how the female employee’s body caught fire, though local media has reported that some of the Taliban militants set her alight because she was trying to protect her students.
TTP has claimed responsibility for the attack as retaliation for a major military offensive in the region, saying its militants had been ordered to shoot older students.
DG ISPR Major General, Asim Bajwa seven terrorists killed and operation clean up was concluded at about 8:30 PM.
While condemning TTP brutality, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif said that terrorist attack on innocent students in Peshawar showed that militants were not only enemies of Pakistan but enemies of the humanity also. COAS directly supervised the operation clean up. Seven soldiers and two officers have also sustained injuries in operation against the insurgents.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Shrif, Political heads of all political parties and complete nation condemned TTP attack against innocent children. In this connection while addressing a press conference along with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in Peshawar, PM Sharif said that that war against terrorists would continue till the last militants in hunted down.
“I feel that until and unless this country is cleansed from terrorism, this war and effort will not stop, no-one should be doubtful of this.
“Such attacks are expected in the wake of a war and the country should not lose its strength.”
He also said that “Operation Zarb-e-Azb” will continue, and declared TTP attack as an act of cowardice and brutality.
USA,UNO and whole world also condemned the terrorists’ brutality against innocent school children.
In fact, the attack is a response to Zarb-e-Azab in which more than 1600 terrorists have been killed since start of the said operation. The military has hailed the operation as a major success in disrupting Taliban militancy in North Waziristan that is a known hideout for Islamist militants of all stripes – including Al Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
In short, nation has to stand up to root out terrorism and need to show solidarity against that mindset which under one or other pretext provides shelter to Taliban Ideology and feel proud in declaring innocent Malala as an anti-Pakistan.
A survivor of the Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar recalls the terrifying ordeal.
Anyhow, my complete family feel sorrow over the sad incident but at the same time also believe that the slogan “I Shall Rise and Shine, Again”, written on the logo of Army Public School System will definitely come true when nation will stand up shoulder to shoulder in elimination of militancy.