It was a cold December morning when Pakistan had woken up to the gloom of having lost Dhaka over four decades ago.
Leaving their abodes, hundreds of thousands – if not millions – had taken to social networks to vent their frustration over the tragedy that until December 16, 2014, was deemed the darkest in the 70-something years history of the country.
Little did they know that 150 coffins, 134 of which were to be the heaviest, were to be lifted later that day; that a tragedy much similar to 2004’s Beslan massacre in Russia, was in the offing.
Six gunmen affiliated with Tehrike Taliban Pakistan (TTP) conducted a terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar at around 10 am. The militants, all of whom were foreign nationals, entered the school and opened fire on staff and children, killing 150, including 134 between the ages of eight and 18.
The attack sparked widespread reactions from across the country, as condemnations from the public, government, political and religious entities, journalists and celebrities, poured in. Imran Khan’s infamous 126-day Islamabad sit-in as a member of the opposition was also called off.
While media reacted strongly to the events as major newspapers, news channels and many commentators called for a renewed and strong action against militants, many countries, international organisations and important personalities also condemned the attack.
Reacting to the carnage at the army-run school, terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda said that “soldiers should be targeted, not their children”.
Today marks five years since wails of the nation broke through the deafening silence of December amid the state’s failure to protect its own; since those at odds vowed to rise above their differences to unite and fight extremism, and since the moment when we started forgetting yet another tragedy.
Although it is believed that memories hanging heaviest are the easiest to recall, it is regrettable how we tend to forget even the ones that hold in their crinkles the ability to change not only our lives as individuals but also the fate of the entire nation.
It is regrettable how we have limited our recalling of these painful memories to certain days such as December 16, without thinking of the families that go through the pain of losing their loved ones, especially minors, all day every day.
Make no mistake as what we argue is not torturing ourselves with the misery that is our own creation, but what we advocate for is realising every day what led to the tragic episode that should’ve defined us for the generations to come.
Because it is regrettable how we were let down, it is regrettable how we let down those 150 innocents, regrettable how we let down millions of others killed because of the failure of the state to protect its citizens, and regrettable how many of us fail to realise there still is time for us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back in the saddle.
Here’s to the courageous survivours who beat the cowards five years ago… here’s to the memory of the 150 souls, from the ashes of whom, we must rise.