August 21, 2020

Bureau Report


On the day the world honors and remembers victims of terrorism, speaks to a mother who lost her two young sons in the horror perpetrated by terrorists on the Army Public School in Peshawar.
Pakistan has been fighting the war against terrorism for about two decades and has sacrificed many thousands of lives. But the attack on the school on December 16, 2014, shocked the nation to its core. It was a day when the lives of Falak Naz and her husband Tehseen changed forever.

The tragic killing of her two sons, 13 year old Noor Ullah and her younger son, 12 year old Saif Ullah, student of class eight, has destroyed Naz’s life beyond repair.  “I’m Falak Naz, mother of martyred Noor Ullah Durrani and Saif Ullah Durrani,” she says with tears in her eyes. Six years have gone by, but for her time froze on the day her sons were shot dead in their own school. “Our lives have frozen in time,” Falak Naz laments. A nurse by profession, Falak Naz was committed to healing wounds, but she says it’s now her wounds that may never heal. She lives with her three daughters and husband. She said when they go out and meet people they try to be as normal as possible but it’s a different world when they are home. “We are five people but we don’t talk to one another.”
Falak Naz said that her husband leaves home every morning in his car and wanders aimlessly throughout the day. “I go out in the car and wherever I find a peaceful place, I rest there,”

Falak Naz quotes her husband as telling her why he wanders all day. “Tehseen used to do three jobs, money was short but we were happy. He worked in the morning at Fauji Foundation, in the afternoon at a lab at Johar Khatoon and in the evening went to a doctor’s clinic where he has his own laboratory. Amid his tight schedule, he would also pick and drop the children to school,” she added. “I can’t work any longer,” Falak Naz quotes Tehseen as saying.

Tehseen wanted to invest some money to support Falak Naz and her children but she told him she wanted nothing. “The only thing that keeps me going is the responsibility of bringing up my three daughters, Falak said, “I have to ensure that they get a good education. Falak Naz says that her daughters have been emotionally disturbed since their brothers were killed and every time they sit for dinner together, the conversation always reels back to Noor Ullah and Saif Ullah. “Then, all of us fall silent, no one talks,” Falak Naz says as tears well up again in her eyes.

Falak Naz claims that her youngest daughter has been in a shock since the murder of her sons and hasn’t said a word since. She remembers a happier time, when they lived in a small house in Shabqadar in Charsadda district, some 28 kilometers away from Peshawar. The school in Shabqadar did not have any furniture and children would bring them with mats to sit during classes. “We left that place in search of better opportunities and education for our children. After living in Bahawalpur and Pano Aqil, we moved to Peshawar.”

Falak Naz remembers that her two boys, Noor Ullah and Saif Ullah were very naughty and would like to roam the streets instead of doing their studies. Their father then sat them down and explained to them that he was working three jobs just to give them an education. He warned them that if they don’t study, he will move the family back to the village where he can support them with their pension and would not have to work to give them a good future.  Naz says both her sons repented and promised their father that they will study hard and bring laurels to their village.

Talking about her sons, Naz reminisces that they would use toy motors in attempts to build an airplane model. Once they told their aunt that they would build a plane and take the whole family on a ride. Noor Ullah and Saif Ullah were also very savvy with cell phones and computers. “I used to chide my eldest daughter, who is a software engineer, that she knew nothing as compared to her younger brothers about cell phones and computers.”

Falak Naz like many other mothers who lost their children in the brazen attack are seeking justice and closure. “We are fighting for justice on hope and it is that hope that gives our life a meaning.” In a place where those who govern, those who dispense justice and those who protect people are all corrupt, the hope for justice is bleak. But that does not stop Falak Naz from fighting on.