Arrival of December is usually considered as an advent of delight. It marks the beginning of winter season and those who cherish winters start looking forward to the joy it brings which is mainly associated with the Christmas and New Year celebrations around the world.
For Pakistan, on the political front, the month of December – during the last 44 years – has been bringing along bitter memories of country’s disintegration that resulted in creation of Bangladesh. The date of 16 December, every year, comes as a sorrowful reminder of losing our eastern part; the credit of which goes to our then leadership’s mistaken policies as well as the enemies of Pakistan. But last year on the same date, the enemies of humanity committed one of the most barbaric atrocities in form of a terrorist attack that broke the whole nation into tears when a handful of terrorists stormed into a school in Peshawar taking around 150 innocent lives right away which included schoolchildren, teachers and some other staff members. Some sources claim that the real figure was quite higher than the one that was officially reported.
Pakistan has been a victim of the worst terrorism since long but this particular act of terror was an unprecedented one due to its nature of being extremely brutal to the core for it was aimed at slaying young schoolchildren. The impact of this cold-blooded act of terror was so gruesomely severe that the entire country was left traumatized. Every individual of the country felt as if they had lost their own innocent kids and family members; as if their own lives had shattered. But the immense grief which the parents and relatives of the ones we lost in the attack must have suffered from is incommensurable.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The post-attack pictures that had been circulating in the media are enough to comprehend how the entire murderous episode must have unfolded. Even today, just a glimpse of the pictures depicting the funerals of the lost angels, the crying survivors, the mourning relatives, the school premises with bullet-hit walls and floors with spilled blood, the fallen bodies and the stories of all the victims are so shattering that it leaves one with a feeling of restlessness.
Nadeem Aslam, a Pakistani British author, expressed his feelings on the bloodshed in the following words:
“Pakistan produces people of extra-ordinary bravery, but no nation should require its citizens to be that brave.”
True. Pakistan is a nation of brave people. The cancer of terrorism has claimed thousands of lives of common Pakistanis and the people of this land still continue to sacrifice their lives. Pertinent to mention here is the resolve of the survivor children who had only one thing to say after facing the harrowing incident; i.e. after growing up they will join armed forces and fight the beasts who made them witness the horrific bloodbath in their own school.
A human mind may never be able to understand why those devilish minded terrorists could not feel slightest of compassion when they threw a grenade or shot a bullet towards children who had not done any wrong to them. Only cowards can assail someone they know will not be able to retaliate.
The fact that the teacher who tried to protect her students was burnt alive on spot, the fact that some pupils literally applied the blood flowing out of the bodies of the deceased on themselves in order to pretend to be dead and escape a bullet, the fact that after reopening of the school there was no student left to attend 9th grade’s classes, the fact that a school bus driver had to drive back with empty seats from a colony from where he used to pick up many students before the tragedy, and also the fact that the gravedigger who had not cried during his job ever before couldn’t stop himself from breaking down while digging graves of the martyred are some of the things that make one realize the intensity of the entire episode of terrorism.
It is beyond understanding how the arrested perpetrators could have the audacity to appeal for clemency against the court’s order of their death penalty. The atrocious creatures who did not feel any mercy when they planned and executed such a deadly crime were brazen enough to desire forgiveness for themselves. No words can justly describe such cruel and inhumane mindset.
As we approach 1st anniversary of the deadliest attack on the innocent flowers of our country, the grief seems to be recurring all over again. Mass funerals, traumatized survivors and lamenting parents; recalling each and every aspect of the incident naturally intensifies the grief to such an extent that tears start taking their natural course.
They say the smallest coffins are the heaviest. The heaviness of the coffins that were buried following the school attack was felt by the entire nation. Even the earth must have had a hard time taking the coffins in. But then, the innocent souls were perhaps meant to leave the cruel world to lead more cherished and peaceful lives up in the heaven among the angels.
Although we believe that the period of human life in the world is fixed by the Creator, those martyred in this school carnage did not deserve to leave the world as a result of such barbarism. They did not deserve to face the horrific violence unleashed upon them. They shouldn’t have to leave their loved ones crying in inconsolable pain. The incident has left behind extremely sorrowful memories for Pakistan and this month of December has brought along such deep scars for the nation that will neither fade away nor be forgotten.
PS: This article originally appeared in Pakistan Today