A year ago, they woke up, got dressed and had their breakfast. Their mothers kissed them goodbye, motherly instincts told them to look at their children for a few more seconds, to embrace them once more, to kiss them once more, to smell their scent once more. As they went to their school, no one would have thought that all hell would break loose.
The morning of 16th December was perhaps the darkest day for Pakistan since the fall of East Pakistan which happened on the same day in 1971. In 1971 the deadly KGB-RAW-CIA nexus had amputated our arms in in 2014 the RAW nexus once again struck directly into our hearts.
Terrorists came to destroy the future of this country, they broke into the school and did what they came for. They shot, beheaded and bombed the innocent students and the teachers. The terrorists were armed to their teeth and the students were unarmed to the core of their souls. By every definition it was an act of terrorism, but it was more than just an act of terrorism. It was a battle, yes a battle! How come? The students were unarmed! Yes they were unarmed, yes they only had books with them, yes they could not kill the terrorists but they fought!
The stories of martyred students are too powerful and painful to be weaved into words. Stories narrated by the surviving students of APS massacre shed light on the epic fight put up by the valiant students.
When the Army QRF team went in and cleared the school, they found the dead body of a young student, lying face first. His back riddled with bullets. Pakistani`s we don`t take bullets on our back son! So how come you fell down with your back to those terrorists? When they removed him they saw his younger sister underneath him and the reason for bullets on his back became evident. The elder brother had tried to shield his younger sister from the terrorists who had sprayed bullets all over his back. The brother died trying to save his younger sister and the sister died in the protective arms of her brother. Even in the face of death, that young student did not abandon his school, his fellows, his sister! He stood tall and sacrificed himself.
Another story is of two friends in their mid teenage, they were in the auditorium when the terrorists broke in and began the massacre. They ducked behind the seats with their fellows and waited out. One of them used his cell phone to text his father who was relieved to hear that his son was still alive not knowing that death was drawing closer for a final embrace. The young friends, got out from under the seats and seeing the coast clear they made for the exit. As they reached the school grounds, the terrorists spotted them and opened fire. One friend got hit in the leg, as he stumbled, the other friend stopped. Amidst the shower of bullets, he didn`t run away to save his own life, he stopped to help his friend who was bleeding fast, in the face of death the bonds of brotherhood and friendship prevailed. Together, the two friends bowed down to the will of Allah and embraced martyrdom in the school grounds, the very grounds where they had played and had fun! Verily the terrorists failed at that very moment, for they had come to cast fear and terrorize! Had they known that these children were raised and bred with courage the cowardly terrorists would never have dared to attack.
A female teacher was locked in the classroom with her students, the terrorists were trying to break in the class room, the windows were open she had the chance to escape, but she didn`t. She stood her ground and tried to protect her students to the best of her ability. The terrorists broke in, the saintly teacher covered her students facing death in the eyes. They shot her and her students, not sparing a single soul.
The headmistress of the school was initially in a secure area, she had plenty of time to escape and save herself, but no she didn`t. Like her staff she stayed in her school for the battle. When the terrorists found her and realized that she was the headmistress, they brought her in front of the students and set her alight. The students saw their headmistress burn in front of their eyes, were they scared? I believe no, their headmistress, their role model had fallen before their eyes and they would not let the terrorists have the last laugh! Narrators report that the terrorists separated the students who belonged to military families, the students had a chance to fake their identities and escape but no they did not! It has been reported that the children who belonged to military families identified themselves and rebuked the terrorists. Unarmed and underage but not cowards!
Some of the lucky ones who were rescued by the Army reported that as they got out of the building, they saw that the school grounds were littered with the dead bodies. The auditorium had seen the worst massacre with bodies piled over each other, the pictures are just too graphic to be displayed again. The computer lab was full of dead bodies, with blood splattered all over the walls. Entire class rooms were blown out of existence.
A teacher who survived but lost her son recalls her story. It was just another day for them, her son had come to her during the break to get his pocket money for the lunch, she gave her son his pocket money and only minutes later the school was attacked. She clutched her heart as she knew that her son was in the portion of the school which had taken the first blow of the attack. She was rescued by the Army but her son had fallen. Being a mother and a teacher, she had a decision to make and she took that decision. She did not abandon her students, for they were her spiritual children as well. She protected them till the Army came to their rescue. The valiant mother, sacrificed her only son for her duty, for this Pak sar zameen!
Another mother who herself was a teacher and her son her student in Army Public School, sacrificed her self. Her son Muhammad Baqir was rescued, injured and bleeding, but his mother embraced martyrdom in the line of her duty. She died protecting her students, didn`t flinch, didn`t try to escape.
Over 150 students and teachers laid down their lives, over 150 different stories of courage and valor. The terrorists came to defeat us, to demoralize us, but we are still standing tall! A year has passed, yes our hearts are still in pain but we haven`t given up & we won`t give up. We surely are not going to forget them, but the world too has to come up to pace and realize that Western hemisphere isn`t the only place where humans reside. Paris attacks were inhumane and barbaric, the whole world stood with Paris after the attacks. A year ago when our students and teachers were massacred, no one stood with us. Pakistan presented dossiers to UN about Indian involvement in the attack, about the safe heavens being provided to the terrorists in Afghanistan by Indians to carry out attacks in Pakistan, but no one did anything. We were alone and are still alone and by the grace and help of Allah Almighty, Pak army has clamped down against these terrorists single handedly.
The commemorative song released by Pak Army says it all. The terrorists snatched our dreams from us, they tried to snatch our future but we won`t drop to their level. We will have our revenge, but it will be through pen and paper! The terrorists will be chased to their last hiding place. Their children, no we won`t kill them, no we won`t marginalize them, we will teach them! Because if there is anything the terrorists fear it is knowledge.
The parents who lost their children and the children who lost their parents. May Allah bless them with patience for they are still waiting for them to return. A year may have passed for us, but for them time ceased the moment they heard the news.