16th December has to be one of the blackest days in Pakistan’s recent history. I remember sitting in a classroom at University the morning (around 10:00 am) of that day, chatting with some of my friends as we waited for our class to begin. My best friend was sitting next to me. He was checking out messages on his cell phone when he received the news, via sms, that terrorists had entered a branch of Army Public School in Peshawar. The look on my friend’s face changed from shock to concern as he read out the horrible news to us. The sms didn’t provide much detail of the incident. We knew, however, that this was a developing story and one we all hoped would end happily. This was not to be the case. In the afternoon, we received news that the terrorists had killed close to 30 children and a couple of people from the school staff. The army had begun its operation against the terrorists and was having some success. I had left my university around 3:30 pm and by the time I had reached home an hour or so later, the death toll had risen to over a 100. The most heartbreaking part of it was, of course, the killing of innocent children. After I had gotten home, i had turned on the TV to watch the media coverage of the incident.
What I saw on the TV were scenes of chaos as concerned relatives were running around secured areas looking for their children among those who had been evacuated as soon as the terrorists had started their despicable activities. I moved on to another channel and there I saw relatives crying their eyes out over dead bodies and coffins. I clearly remember fighting back a flood of tears as I was watching this.
The emotions at this time were in stark contrast to what they were when I had first heard the news. The shock and concern wasn’t as huge as it should have been, when I had first come to learn of the incident. It’s probably because we have become used to the constant flood of bad news and to scenes of injustice, cruelty and suffering, living in Pakistan.
We have become desensitized to violence, especially, in cases where we aren’t directly affected by it. The suffering caused by the killing of sweet, innocent and joyful children or even the thought of it is enough, however, to cause even the hardest of hearts to melt.
Alas, the terrorists responsible for the Peshawar attack had no hearts. With this attack, their intention was to create panic in the nation and weaken the Pakistani army’s resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms.
Although they may have been successful in shutting down some educational institutes and workplaces in the aftermath of their attack, they have awoken this fire inside Pakistanis of all ages and creeds, a fire that will, Insha’Allah, burn them where they stand.
I have never seen Pakistanis across the globe so united against terrorism and against the organizations and people who practice and support it. We have finally realized that terrorism is a problem that we can no longer live with. I hope and pray that the fire that has been ignited is not dulled as time passes by. We must never forget the victims of Peshawar incident as well as the 50,000 lives that have been lost in our struggle against terrorism.