PESHAWAR: As the nation marked the first anniversary of Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) massacre on Wednesday, the country’s top civil and military leadership honoured those who lost their lives during the attack in a sombre ceremony at the school.
Addressing the ceremony, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed the APS attack “an incident that shook the nation” and announced December 16 as the‘Qaumi Azm-e-Taleem Day’ (Day of National Resolve to promote education). He also announced the construction of APS ShuhadaUniversity.
Following the APS attack, the premier said, the military and civil leadership sat together. “It was then when I said desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Nawaz thanked the political leadership with whose cooperation the constitution was amended to set up military courts and the National Action Plan was formulated.
“Our brave forces, security and civil institutions have come together as one in this mission,” the prime minister said, adding that operation Zarb-i-Azb has broken the back of terrorists.
“The blood of our children speaks in our war against terrorism” he said.
Speaking directly to the slain children, Nawaz said: “We will avenge every drop of your blood.”
“I wish that whenever we recall the sacrifices of these children and their teachers, we also remember that we have to eliminate the darkness of illiteracy from Pakistan.”
Enemies of education are the enemies of humanity. The PM vowed to eliminate elements that aim to push the country in darkness by crippling education process.
Pakistan Army achieved significant success against militants in leadership of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, he added.
While talking to the parents of the martyrs, PM Nawaz said he realizes the pain of the parents who lost their children and prayed that May God give them courage and patience to bear the loss. He said that it is government’s resolve that sacrifices of their sons and daughters would not go in vain. He reassured the participants of the ceremony that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has broken the back of terror outfits.
He reiterated that the time is not far when insurgency would be completely eliminated from the country and eventually the region. December 16, 2014 not only determined future course-of-action of the country but strengthened resolve against terrorism to the highest degree.
The Prime Minister said that the people stand shoulder to shoulder with the armed forces in large-scale campaign against militants.
PM Nawaz also talked about the targeted operation that was launched in Karachi on September 16 2013 to root-out criminals elements and end the terror-grip. He vowed to continue the offensive in Karachi until the purpose is achieved.
The Prime Minister assured that we will leave a new Pakistan for the coming generations as dreamed by Quaid-e-Azam where there will be no slogans of hatred but of love.
The main ceremony to mark the day was held in open space of the Army Public School Peshawar where Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Raashid Mehmud, services chiefs, CM Sindh Qaim Ali Shah, CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak, CM Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) CM Hafeezur Rehman and KP Governor Mehtab Khan Abbasi, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other political leaders including federal ministers were present.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Rashad Mahmood distributed medals to the families of the APS victims, along with rights to plots of land.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood distributed medals to the families of the APS victims, along with rights to plots of land. Brief tributes were said as families of the victims came up to receive the medals.
Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Qaim Ali Shah, Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) CM Hafeezur Rehman, Balochistan CM Abdul Malik Baloch, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa CM Pervez Khattak and KP Governor Mehtab Khan Abbasi also distributed medals among the families of the victims.
The proceedings of the ceremony began with the recitation of verses from the Holy Quran by an APS student. The attendees then stood up as the National Anthem was sung by APS students.
A ‘Martyrs Monument’, installed at the school, was inaugurated at the event.
In preparation for the ceremony, security across the provincial capital was beefed up with heavy military deployment on Warsak Road, the main thoroughfare leading up to the Army Public School.
Over 2,000 policemen were deployed at various checkpoints across the city, particularly close to the school’s vicinity in case of a terrorist attack.