You ViewsVOLUME 19 ISSUE # 5

Emotional scars

We lost about 150 precious lives in the Army Public School (APS) massacre in Peshawar nine years ago, but we have not forgotten the bloodshed that has left deep emotional scars on the very existence of every patriotic citizen.

It was on this day that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists martyred 132 schoolchildren, their principal, teachers and other staff. The attackers had breached the school compound by scaling a wall, and targeted the schoolchildren and their teachers. Some reports suggested that they even bombed their own vehicle to distract the school guards.

The TTP militants attempted to justify the heinous act as retaliation against government attacks on their members, particularly citing Operation Zarb-i-Azb, in North Waziristan. The international community condemned the massacre, which prompted Pakistan to reinstate the death penalty after a six-year moratorium. The aftermath of the APS attack had profound effects on Pakistan. The nation, devastated by the loss of innocent lives, recognised the importance of education as a countermeasure against such enemies. The belief emerged that investing in education could be a powerful weapon for the nation.

Amidst the grief, a collective determination to strengthen the education system emerged as a response to extremism. The global community rallied behind Pakistan, offering support and expertise in combating terrorism and promoting education. Today, there is a dire need to make tangible efforts towards eradicating the root causes of extremism through education and bringing international cooperation to ensure a safer world for children to learn and thrive.

Today, TTP has once again been active after several years of relative calm and peace. This peace came after successful military operations in which several TTP members were killed, while the remaining fled across the border.

After the so-called ‘peace talks’ by the government with the TTP between 2018 and 2022, we saw a resurgence of terrorism. The situation went from bad to worse after the United States opted for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent takeover by the Afghan Taliban.

This has forced the caretaker government in Pakistan to expel all illegal foreigners, whose presence has impacted the security and economy of the country. The decision came in the wake of several bloody attacks by TTP and its affiliates, mostly against the security forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

The latest of such attacks was on Dec 12 by TTP affiliate, Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP) in which 23 soldiers were martyred, while two more security personnel lost their lives in another incident. It has become imperative for us to take all necessary measures to secure our country from the scourge of terrorism. We cannot and should not waste the sacrifices that our security forces have rendered to bring peace back to the country while fighting against terrorists.

Mujeeb Ali Samo