Killing of 132 children: ‘A day when Heaven did not fall’

Killing of 132 children: 'A day when Heaven did not fall'

By Irum Saleem

SOME 144 persons including 132 children, lost their lives when TTP militants stormed the army public school and, in the most horrific orgy of violence imaginable, went from room to room slaughtering students and staff members seven years ago and we the nation still don’t know whether the culprits have been brought to justice.

    It is one of those tragedies which are soul-searing, so monumental, that their imprint remains permanently etched in the nation’s collective consciousness. Parents of the slain children are knocking every door for justice and their cries seem to fall on deaf ears.  

Distraught parents milling at the gates while the attack was underway, not knowing whether their children were alive or dead; images of the carnage that soon surfaced on social media; and the tender farewells to so many who died far too young — there remains a montage of indelible memories. That is even more so for the students who survived and for the families of the dead whose lives were forever changed on Dec 16, 2014.

    Dawn writes for a time, it seemed the attack had catalysed a degree of soul-searching and strengthened the state’s resolve to fight religious extremism. “The 20-point National Action Plan was the outcome of the civilian and military leaderships’ consensus that the country needed to chart a different course. That initial resolve, however, soon dissipated and became mired in inaction and procedural delays. The state instead resorted to facile steps such as lifting the unofficial moratorium on capital cases — feeding a wounded nation’s bloodlust instead of taking the difficult, far-reaching measures that could eliminate the root causes of extremism from society. It even gave short shrift to the grief of the families of the APS Peshawar victims and their anger over why the attack had taken place at all, particularly in the light of intelligence about the TTP planning an assault on an army-run educational institution.”

   The paper says the families ran from pillar to post seeking accountability of those whose negligence had allowed the massacre to happen. It took well over three years before a judicial commission was set up to look into the matter. The 525-page report it submitted to the Supreme Court in July 2020 assailed the security lapses and the “unpardonable” assistance given to the militants by locals in the area. Given we are angling for talks with the very group that exulted in the murder of our children, have we learnt anything from the tragedy of APS Peshawar?

     Hollow statements from too functionaries including PM Khan make headlines but practically no steps taken to mitigate the concerns of the victim families. PAK DESTINY

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