Chicago IL: Pakistan marked the first anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on the Army Public School in the northwestern city of Peshawar, termed a “Mini-9/11 for Pakistan”, in which over 150 people, most of them children, were gunned down by Taliban militants on December 16th, 2014. Glowing tributes were paid to the martyrs of the School and strong solidarity was displayed with them. In another display of solidarity with the victims of the attack, vehicular traffic remained halted for two minutes beginning 10: AM in Lahore, and one-minute silence was observed to mark the tragic incident in different cities.
“The first anniversary of this massacre is an occasion to pause and take note that consequent upon the military-led crackdown in the North Waziristan tribal region along the Afghan border and the implementation of the National Action Plan, the acts of terror and serious crimes have fallen by sixty about percent”, said Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Consul General of Pakistan, with a sense of satisfaction. “The anniversary is also an occasion to renew our resolve to continue the campaign, with the hardened resolve, till we permanently uproot the menace of terrorism from the soil of Pakistan and make it a place of eternal peace and vibrant prosperity”, he added.
Tirmizi paid rich tributes to the Pakistan’s top civilian and military leadership, which demonstrated exemplary courage in stepping up the action-packed interventions, called Operation Zarb-e-Azb, aimed at checking the domestic terrorism like never before with an iron hand. He said that lifting of moratorium on the death penalty, trying alleged militant extremists in military courts, regulating the country’s religious seminaries, building the walls and extra defenses by all schools,and tightening security systems at schools added a great punch to the campaign. “Today, parents feel safe to send their children to schools, which suggest that the civilian and military leadership was successful in keeping their promises of a secure environment for the students”, he added.
Tirmizi said that a balanced fusion of army crackdowns and educational campaigns would be an enduring solution to the longstanding problem of militancy in Pakistan. “Declaring December 16th as the “Day of National Resolve to Promote Education” by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would be a right step in the direction of defeating the heinous designs of the extremists to put off the flame of knowledge and education”, he added.
“The Government’s two-dimensional policy of using selective force and initiating development in areas most affected by terrorism will be fruitful. The economic transformation, trade promotion, employment generation, and educational development would be of great help in maintaining sustainable peace in the region”, Tirmizi stated.
Tirmizi welcomed the collective and concerted approach towards tackling terror by a large number of countries, from across the globe, in view of the fact that it is not the problem of Pakistan alone. He added that the successful hosting of Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on December 9th, 2015, which was attended by President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and Foreign Ministers of seven countries including that of China, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Latvia, besides senior representatives of 29 countries, including those of the US, was an important step in this direction. He called upon all the regional countries too to join hands to make a collective and comprehensive effort, involving further strengthening of the economic, commercial, sporting, and people-to-people linkages with a view to successfully eliminating terrorism from the region.
Tirmizi wholeheartedly welcomed the release of a video by the Pakistani Army commemorating the victims of the massacre, which shows kids singing a song glorifying the role of education in grappling with terrorism: “Mujhe dushman ke bachon ko parhana hai (I want to educate the children of my enemies) and “Mujhe ma us se badla layne jana ha (Mother, I have to go take revenge)”. “Education as revenge seems a fitting response to one of the most shocking terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil, Tirmizi added.