ISLAMABAD: The children of Pakistan Sweet Homes (PSH) gathered in front of the National Press Club on the eve of the first anniversary of the Army Public School (APS) attack to pay tribute to the martyred children and show solidarity with the survivors.
A fourth standard student, Sofia Bibi came wearing a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) costume and said she wanted to join PAF when she grew up. “I am not scared of our country’s enemies and I will help in destroying them. I came here to show that I am not scared of anyone who is against education.”
Nabeel Ahmed, who is in the sixth grade, was wearing a military costume. He said: “We are not scared of the terrorists and incidents like the APS attack will not affect our determination.”
He said the children at PSH are determined to help educate terrorist’s children and said that was the only way to eliminate terrorism completely.
The children were holding placards with messages against terrorism and also sang songs in tribute to those martyred in Peshawar. They put on a parade as a sign of solidarity with the Pakistan Army and vowed to help eliminate radicalism through education.
PSH’s chief patron, Zamurrad Khan, said the children had gathered to convey that they were not afraid of terrorists. “All of my 3,600 sons and daughters are ready to sacrifice themselves for Pakistan. Most of the orphans in Sweet Homes have lost their parents to the war against terrorism,” he said.
“Protecting orphans is very important because terrorists use orphans to carry out their plans,” Mr Khan added.
To this, the managing director of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Barrister Abid Waheed Sheikh, said: “We will make many more Sweet Homes to ensure that every child in Pakistan receives a good education and is brought up in a good environment so that they can contribute to the development of the country”.
Meanwhile, NGOs and civil society activists issued a joint statement saying they will observe the first anniversary of the attack.
The statement pledges to “permanently dedicate this day to honour [the martyrs’] memory.” In it, activists and members of NGOs vowed to stand in solidarity with the families of APS victims and survivors and with the families of the 70,000 Pakistanis who have lost their lives in the war against terrorism, militant extremism, sectarianism and misplaced, imported notions of ‘jihad’.
The statement wass signed by some 100 organisations and prominent activists like Kishwar Naheed, Naheed Aziz, Nasreen Azhar, Neelum Hussein, Hilda Saeed, Dr Farzana Bari, Naseer Memon, Dr Baela Raza Jamil and others.
It says the civil society will continue to oppose the government’s proposals for ‘talks’ with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
It states: “We continue to honour the memory of brave Aitizaz Hassan Shaheed of Hangu, of the human rights defenders who were targeted and killed by TTP and their jihadi and sectarian affiliates, of the military and paramilitary forces and civilian LEAs who have sacrificed their lives in service of our homeland, and of our unsung media heroes.”
The signatories also demanded the disbanding of all private armies and militia, in accordance with Article 256. They demand that, other than law enforcement agencies, no citizen, regardless of their rank or status, be allowed to possess, carry, display or use licensed or unlicensed weapons.
NEO Monitoring Report