A year has passed and 16th Decemeber is here again. Our hearts are again sinking and our minds appear to be reliving the horror of that day.
Indeed, 16th December 2015 was a day that saw an entire nation paralysed with grief, anguish and horror – unable to grasp the reality of it all. For days to follow, streets lay empty, shopping areas deserted – a collective depression engulfed the whole nation. We forgot to laugh, we forgot to share jokes on social media. All we could share were pictures of those children, each one beautiful enough to melt the hardest of hearts.
Such a planned genocide of children had never been attempted before. It was not only an attempt to demoralise the entire nation, but more specifically to psychologically disarm and cripple the soldiers who were engaged in a military operation against these very terrorists. This horrendous atrocity was an endeavour to wipe out their future completely, to leave them nothing to fight for.
However, the innocent martyrs of Army Public School, Peshawar, did what no one had been able to do in years. They revived a sleeping nation, and the world saw that nation unite as it never had before – we finally stood together – united in grief and united in pain, just like “a single body” referred to in the Prophetic tradition.*
Every mother, young or old, shed tears of grief – for those 132 mothers whose budding flowers were so untimely and mercilessly plucked from their bosoms; and every father undoubtedly felt the anguish of those against whom this atrocity was committed – most of them soldiers – serving or retired – some actually part of the “Zarb e Azb” – the ongoing operation against those terrosists. There were fathers who came directly from the war front to bury their children who, in many instances, were more than one, and then rushed back with yet more conviction and resilience to avenge those animals.
The political and military leadership rose to the occasion like never before. PTI chairperson Imran Khan called off his months long “Dharna,” realising the gravity of the situation, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled or postponed all official foreign trips. Within a week of the attack, an All Parties Conference reached a consensus on the need to devise a National Action Plan. On 24th December 2014, PM Nawaz Sharif, in a late night address to the nation announced the formation of the NAP in light of the decisions taken by the APC. The PM said,
” We have to act fast and whatever is agreed we have to implement it immediately…this agreement is a defining moment for Pakistan and we will eliminate terrorists from this country.”
As a result of the NAP and the 21st constitutional ammendment which followed, military courts were established in the country, a 7 year long moratorium on capital punishment was lifted, and terrorists finally started getting the death sentences which they deserved. During all these decisions, the nation more or less stood united behind these leaders, no matter how much we criticised, and how impatient we were to see results – yet we all took up a single stance against terrorism. All our delusions were over, the veil had been lifted – there were no “good” or “bad” taliban, and all terrorists, as well as their facilitators and sympathisers, were all equally guilty.
In carrying out and collectively supporting these steps, the Pakistani nation became a “nation” in the true sense of the word. Our spiritual father, Allama Iqbal, says in Javednama:
“What is a nation? But with thousands of eyes to be ONE in vision.”
In such a situation, we might not have done extremely well, yet we still did good, better then most nations would have done. Over the past year, the political and military leadership appear to more or less be on the same page, and the nation has offered full support for the military operations being carried out in the country. No one can deny that the security situation in the country had greatly improved, the improvement in Karachi is particularly noteworthy. We have a lot to be thankful for.
I believe most passionately that we are greatly, most immensely indebted to our innocent martyrs and their parents, who by making this unimaginable sacrifice redeemed our nation in a way it could not otherwise have redeemed itself. The soil fertilized with such innocent blood can never, SHOULD NEVER, be corrupted, or sold. When you read about the courage of those brave boys, how so many of them gave up their lives to save their friends, your heart swells up with pride:
یہ کلی بهی اس گلستان خزاں منظر میں تهی
ایسی چنگاری بهی یارب اپنے خاکستر میں تهی
(O that in our autumn‐stricken garden there were flower‐buds like this!
O that a spark like this, dear Lord, could be found in our ashes!)
These stories must be recounted for generations to come. Our children must know that we are indebted to the martyrs of APS Peshawar, in more ways than we can even count. They gave us the will to fight back after we were struck, and as a result, our children are still going to school, our country is still intact, and we are still a free nation – a nation with great potential and the bravest children any nation can boast of:
نہیں ہے نوامید اقبال اپنی کشت ویراں سے
ذرا نم ہو تو یہ مٹی بہت زرخیز ہے ساقی
(But of his barren acres Iqbal will not despair:
A little rain, and harvests shall wave at last, oh Saki!)
* The Messenger of Allah, SAW, said: “The example of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim