A student prays at a private school in Chennai, India. (Source: PTI)
Lead, they say, is the toughest part of writing. Never thought I would be so spoiled for choice to begin with, at such a saddening juncture. There is a sea of emotions, plenty to express, humongous grief within & a perpetual disgust ever since the incident occurred.
Who could have thought that a normal day at school, on the 16th Of December, 2014, would turn out to be a such a fatal one for the children & staff of Army Public School (APS), Peshawar & of course for Pakistan itself. Seven heavily armed attackers of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan caused the havoc in the Army-run school & took the lives of almost 142 students & school officials. Accounts of the eye witnesses, who fortunately escaped death, explain how dastardly the attack was.
Sitwat Jafri, a 12th Grade student, lost his mother who was a teacher at APS. His younger brother, Baqer Jafri, was shot in the head but thankfully survived. Another teacher, Sofia Amjad, who was married to a lawyer, lost her battle with life before she could have made the dream of marrying off her daughters a reality. During the attack, some students pretended to be dead & later described the trauma to the world. There are numerous other stories that have surfaced thereafter, which have truly shaken us. Many countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Canada and United Kingdom have shown support & stood by Pakistan. India, in particular, has responded very positively to Pakistan, forgetting their differences & uniting at this crucial point. The #IndiawithPakistan was trending on twitter & the incident drew extensive support from the Indian base of Twitter users. Many schools, all over India, observed a two-minute silence to remember & pray for the departed souls. But, sadly among all these humanitarian gestures, there were still some insensible Politicians of our country, who took advantage of the situation to target Pakistan on grounds of historical differences & proliferating terrorism through their futile comments.
The Peshawar episode has raised questions about the security of schools in the minds of the young ones too. As reported in India Times, a leading Indian newspaper, a parent, Richa Sharma, found herself striving to answer the query of her six-year-old daughter when asked “Mummy, we don’t even have benches in our school. Only chairs. Where will we hide?” The same report also highlights, another Class 2 student, Kavya’s fear when she innocently asks her mother “How far is Peshawar from her school?” and “If all the bad people have been killed.”
Let us not forget those parents, who have lost the wealth of their life in this heinous act. That limitless pain, that feeling of never being able to see their child again & the resulting agony has left them utterly inconsolable. No other blessing in the world would perhaps commensurate the loss. Not an eye would be void of tears on the very thought of their excruciation. Let me also make it clear here that those who have carried out this inhuman act in the guise of Islam, had no right to do so. It would be like adulterating the ever so pristine religion to serve the nefarious intentions of a few ruthless beings.
Lastly, post Peshawar tragedy, both the countries of the sub-continent would remember 16th December as one of the worst days in their history. While Pakistan is lamenting this attack in Peshawar, India has also not been able to come to terms with the Delhi gang rape case that jolted the countrymen a couple of years back.
We wholeheartedly pray that may peace prevail on either side of the border & citizens of both the countries stay safe eternally.