August 21, 2020
                                                  Bureau Report

PESHAWAR


As the world marks the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, Voicepk.net spoke to the families of students martyred in Peshawar’s Army Public School attack five years ago.
The terrorist attack had left 147 people, mostly students of the school, and injured scores on December 16, 2014.

Speaking to Voicenet.pk, families of the student victims expressed their sadness and anguish as they recalled the day. Many of them spoke about their frustration as they continue to await justice and closure some five years on. The former chief justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar, had set up a commission on the APS tragedy after a petition by the families of the students in October 2018.

The commission was headed by Justice Ibrahim Khan of the Peshawar High Court. In July, the commission submitted its 3000-page report to the Supreme Court. The report had recorded statements of 132 people including parents of the slain students.

But the parents still feel hopeless and frustrated on how they have been dispensed justice.”We just want justice for our children,” said Shahana, mother of Yar Asfand, a student of the school, who lost his life in the horrendous attack. Shahana said their wounds had not healed with time as their demand for a transparent probe had not been met.

“If you ask each and every mother who lost their sons in the tragedy, they will all say they are not at peace,” she said.

Fazal Khan, the father of Yar Asfand, said that in close to six years, the families of the APS victims have not been able to get justice. He said they had approached all institutions in the belief that their plea for justice would be heard.

“We had asked the government for exemplary punishment of the culprits as well as those in the state institutions who had failed in their responsibility.” Unfortunately, nothing much has happened despite the long wait, he added.

“We won’t be able to find peace and solace until we get justice,” Shagufta, mother of another victim told Voicepk.net. “We did not get justice at all,” father of victim Tahir Khan said. He said they had done all they could by holding rallies and meeting people to get justice for their children.

The Supreme Court has taken suo-motu notice of the APS terror attack, in the last hearing the apex court sought reply on the commission’s report from the federal government in four weeks’ time. On the other hand, Ajoon Khan, father of APS martyr Asfand Khan, has called for exemplary punishment for the main suspect in the incident.

“Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesperson of the defunct Tehrik-e-Taliban, is not only a State accused but also accused by all the parents of the children who lost their lives,” Ajoon Khan, who is a lawyer and is pleading case of the parents before the apex court, told Voicepk.net.

He said they had filed a petition on the ‘escape’ of Ehsanullah Ehsan before the court.”I hope, the court will also take up this matter in the next hearing,” he added. Khan said the parents would not let go of the matter and would bring it to its logical conclusion.

Some death-row convicts of the APS attack have been executed after Pakistan lifted its moratorium on death sentences.

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