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Peshawar School Shooting
It was the 16th of December, 2014. I had my geography exam the next day and was busy learning definitions and memorizing the locations of farms on maps. The year had been horrible for me, and I was really hoping it would end quickly and nicely. Boy was I wrong.
I overheard my mother talking on the phone with my aunt, heard her gasp and say, "Oh God," over and over again. Then she quickly turned the television on. There was no need to grab the remote because it was on every channel. News anchors repeating the dreaded words:
"There has been a shooting in the Army Public School in Peshawar,"
I ran from the other room, in shock, and stared numbly at the screen, watching footage from the school. Injured children being evacuated from buildings, mothers wailing for their children, siblings looking for each other. It was not a scene of panic and chaos; rather a scene of emotion and grief.
The attack had begun in the morning, around 10. It was just another average day for those students: waking up in the morning; putting on their green, ironed uniforms; through the school gates and into their class rooms. How could they have ever imagined that seven terrorists from the TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan) would barge into their school, disguised and equipped with guns and suicide jackets, to kill them?
They snuck through a cemetery near the school, and entered the school auditorium. Children from the 8th, 9th and 10th grade were gathered there to attend a lecture on first aid when the guns fired. Blood spilled on the floor and dripped from the helpless students, who lay on the ground, most dead, and some only pretending to be, to save themselves. Some ran out the exit doors at the corners of the hall, but were killed in the courtyard.
Among those boys was Muhammad, who had been thrown under chairs when other students ran in panic. He hid until he saw no other terrorist, then was reunited with his friend, who had been shot in the legs and lost a finger. It was their cries that led the soldiers to the auditorium.
Panic arose as students from across the hall heard gunfire. Pupils rushed into the corridors, trying to evacuate. Teachers had told students to not cry or panic, or else they would be killed.
Meanwhile, in the principal's office, sat a 7-year-old girl, Khaula, in her father's lap. She had come for her admission to the school, and jumped in excitement. For her, school was a new and different world. She had always wanted to go to school, just like her elder brother, who was in the building at the time of the attack. Just when they heard the gunfire, the terrorists entered the office, opened fire, and killed Khaula on the spot. She, like most of the others, had been shot in the head. She came for her admission to school, but got an admitted to heaven instead, says personality Amir Liaquat. She was the youngest martyr.
The students were forced to watch most teachers and the principal be burnt alive. But 15 minutes into the shooting, military vehicles arrived, soldiers pouring into the building, taking down the seven satans, one after the other.
Now, think about it. 145 had been killed, 132 of which were children like you and I. If, God forbid, this were to happen to us, how would we have felt then? I have read so many articles about children from across the globe expressing their grief, with candlelight vigils and cards and flowers. But we have slowly moved on. We may say we care, and are upset, when we care more about when the next video games are coming out, or are more upset about petty arguments amongst friends.
We should be grateful. We do not live in a place where going to school is like a suicide mission. We do not live in the fear of the taliban who have unfortunately taken over various parts of the country. We have not experienced the pain, thus have not been psychologically hurt, or scarred. It is not our blood stains on the walls and floors of the school. The school does not smell of our blood. We truly are lucky.
It could have been anyone. And no one deserved it. Not the teachers, not the students, not their families, nor the nation. Why would terrorists target pupils when their enemy is the state? Why would they take so many lives when they know it will all come back at them? Do they not have children of their own? Does death not scare them?
The answer to those questions is simple; they are afraid of us. They are afraid of the children of those in the army. They are terrified by them. They know that those children will one day eliminate them from the face of this planet. Guns do not scare them, pens and books do. They believe the only way to stop children from stopping them in future, is by killing them. But they do not know that death does not scare us. We will avenge the 'martyrs' of this 'war'.
This incident has not weakened anyone. It may have seperated mothers from their children, but it has strengthened the bond between every citizen in the country. Lives are valued now, safety is increasing, and now, taliban who had been arrested before are being hung for their crimes, since the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has lifted the death sentence.
Did any of the children deserve it? No. They have not only been wounded physically, but internally as well. They cannot be expected to return to their normal lives so easily. What they need is support. Support that we must give them.