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Remembering the Army Public School Victims of Peshawar 2 Years Later

Remembering the Army Public School Victims of Peshawar 2 Years Later

It was around lunchtime when Ammi (Mom) got a phone call. She then turned on the TV and we sat down to watch images of crying and screaming parents.

The Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar had been attacked by a group of militants and scores of innocent children were brutally murdered. It was Dec. 16, 2014.

One theory suggests that this particular faction of terrorists sought revenge against the Pakistan Army for trying to uproot them from the Af-Pak border region.

My school-aged brother came home that day and told us that he heard the militants were burning teachers alive in front of the classroom. He was afraid to go back to his school.

It was around lunchtime when Ammi (Mom) got a phone call. She then turned on the TV and we sat down to watch images of crying and screaming parents.

The level of fear outside was palpable–practically everyone was in mourning and the absence of the typical chit-chat left everything silent. The usually busy roads were relatively empty and you could see snipers standing on top of buildings.

The fear was not unwarranted–Peshawar can be a dangerous place to live, even if a native dots their i’s and crosses their t’s. AK-47s are the standard for most guards, to give some context, and life there for many means having the ability to duck fast as someone comes out at you with a loaded gun, literally and metaphorically. I definitely sharpened my instincts when living there.

On my wedding day, an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded at a police station near out apartment. About a month later, my sister’s neighborhood had a blast. A shop vendor around the corner from where we lived was fatally shot by a militant. The list of terrorist crimes continues.

Two weeks after the massacre, I got hired by the Express Tribune—and one week after, another a colleague of mine would interview parents of the lost children. I met a few of them at the office and was devastated by the realization that nothing could be done to bring back their kids.

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My school-aged brother came home that day and told us that he heard the militants were burning teachers alive in front of the classroom. He was afraid to go back to his school.

The office was actively threatened by different militant groups, including Daesh and even corrupt politicians. Every day after the massacre, I would pray, “Please protect me and keep me safe.”

Ammi would tell me a Pashto saying, which I’m paraphrasing: You can’t live in fear or worry about what may happen… Allah knows best. Trust Allah.

We honor these lost children of Peshawar, many of whom were being trained to be the next generation’s leaders. I pray that the survivors and their families can emotionally, physically and spiritually heal.

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