Army Public School – Daily Times

A year ago our country suffered another horrible tragedy. The Taliban attacked defenceless students at the Army Public School in Peshawar killing and maiming yet more of Pakistan’s future. The attackers were from amongst us. Pakistanis killing Pakistanis in the name of religion. The beautiful words of the Quran mangled by the ‘keepers of the faith’.

The very first word in our Quran is ‘Read’. And here we are attacking schools and killing children. There is no religion, there is no God to forgive murder – especially of unarmed innocent children. In our quest to protect the so called honour of God we have forgotten the rights of His creation. We seem to have skimmed over the verse, ‘I shall forgive all sins committed unto Me, but I shall not forgive any sins committed unto others’.

And then we add insult to injury. It happens. We condemn it. It happens again. Just when you think it couldn’t get worse. It does. More tragic. More barbaric. As a country we are so used to hearing such horrors – witnessing bloody, graphic images on channels with no respect for the dead. We have been so damaged; our mental and emotional scars being ripped anew with each tragedy. And all we do is condemn each tragedy, a reflex reaction before we move on.

I am so tired of condemning these tragedies. It makes me physically nauseous to even say the word. Society can help, we can do so much more than merely condole. Victims of terrorism need our help. They need our comfort, our company, help in job placement, support for education, financial assistance for their treatment and medical aid. They certainly do not need our pity. I recently read a blog by an APS survivor. He said people kept telling him to move. I was horrified. How does one move on from such trauma? Have we become so immune to terror that we fail to grasp what death really means? For a society so crippled by terrorism we have no means to aid our healing. Forget adequate psychological facilities and trauma centres; we as a country still stigmatise mental health. We expect our nation to get up and move on. Not one person in this country has been left unaffected by terrorism. And yet harbingers of change claim the murderers are our brothers. We justify every act of violence, make excuses for the murderers and muddy the waters. Short term political gain outweighs the cost in blood of our brothers and sisters.

The fact our children continue to go to school despite seeing their classmates gunned down before them is a testament to their bravery. And our children have time and time again had to be incredibly brave. Be it Malala who was shot trying to get an education, or Aitzaz Hassan who sacrificed himself to protect his classmates or the children of APS who continue to pursue an education despite the trauma they have faced

I too lost my mother to terrorism. And the adage, time heals all wounds, couldn’t be further from the truth. The void left in ones life is never filled. All that remains is a lingering emptiness. And there can be nothing more condescending than being told to move on. Platitudes of being brave and empty words of condemnation are not enough. No country should expect it’s children to be this brave. Let us stand up today and be counted. Let us take action. Let us unite.