16th December 2021
By Jamal Safi
“Time had stopped for me after the horrific attack on our school. Memories of the tragic incident revolve in my mind whenever I see the school’s students,” says Tufail Tariq, an alumnus of the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar. He was in seventh grade when terrorists stormed the school. He lost his two brothers, Shamowail and Nangyal, on that horrific day.
Recalling the incident, Tufail tells Voicepk.net that it has been hard for him to continue his studies after the incident.
“I had tried to continue my studies a year after the attack, but the memory of terrorists shooting indiscriminately on the children and teachers haunted me,” he says. A total of 149 people, including 132 school-going children, were gunned down by fighters of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on December 16, 2014.
Tufail remembers that two days before the massacre, the Frontier Corps (FC) had launched a rehearsal to train students in case of any terrorist attack.
“So when the first blast was heard, we thought that it was a routine exercise by the FC. But just moments later, the hall doors were busted open and the attackers started firing directly at us.”
Tufail and his classmates managed to escape harm by slipping out the back door of the auditorium where students and teachers had gathered to attend a first aid training sessions. It was when he reached home that his neighbours told him he had seen Shamowail at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH). He and Nangyal did not survive.
“We received Shamowail’s body from LRH and Nangyal from the Combined Military Hospital (CMH),” he says, his eyes beginning to well with tears. “Our family’s happiness died with them.”
Sohail, another sibling of Tufail’s, was in fifth grade at the time of the attack. He abandoned his studies due to the trauma.
The boys’ father, Tariq Jan, says the APS attack had destroyed his family.
“I lost two of my sons and the remaining two are unable to resume their studies because of the incident.”
Tariq Jan appeals to the government to complete the inquiry into the APS attack and make the judicial commission report public as soon as possible.
Fazal Khan, a lawyer who also lost a son in the APS tragedy, says that the judicial commission that was formed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the May 9, 2018, had been directed to complete the investigation into the incident within two months. He added that that the families of the martyred students approached the apex court on October 5, 2018 in this regard, however they were not satisfied with the verdict as the main culprits were not held accountable.
Tufail says that he would love to continue his studies but trauma impedes his hopes. Crowded places, especially in schools, remind him of his terrifying experience on December 16, 2014. The memory prevents him from fulfilling his dream of becoming a well-educated citizen of Pakistan.