Teary-eyed relatives of children massacred in a Taliban assault on an army-run school in Peshawar paraded the city on Wednesday carrying photos of victims as Pakistan marked the first anniversary of its worst terror attack with Premier Nawaz Sharif vowing revenge “for every drop of blood”.
Sharif, army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf chief Imran Khan and several top leaders and security officials attended a ceremony here to remember the victims of the brazen attack on the Army Public School in which Taliban gunmen in army uniforms killed over 150 people, including 136 students, on December 16 last year.
Relatives of the attack victims participated in a parade in Peshawar, holding pictures of their loved ones, while rallies and demonstrations were held in other parts of the country to pay tribute to the victims of the assault.
Vowing revenge, Prime Minister Sharif said the blood of the “martyrs” will not go waste. “We will take revenge for every drop of your blood.” Sharif, while addressing the ceremony to observe the first anniversary of the attacks and remember the victims, said the operation against militants will continue until the threat of militancy is eliminated.
In the aftermath of the Peshawar attack, the government responded by broadening the ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ military operation which was launched in June last year. The attack prompted the government to take several measures, including lifting a moratorium on the death penalty and formulating the National Action Plan against terrorism.
Pakistan earlier this month hanged four men linked to the Peshawar attack. Sharif said the operation has broken the back of terrorists and the day was not far when terrorism will be completely eliminated. “The operation will continue and we will defeat terrorism soon; we will defeat the enemies of education and children and give a peaceful Pakistan to our new generation,” Sharif said.
The Prime Minister said like all others he too had “come with the feelings of grief and sorrow”. The attack unified the divided nation because “everybody felt the pain of attack”, he said.
Sharif also said that it “was exactly after this attack that I gave up the idea of seeking peace with Taliban”.
Sharif also announced that December 16 will be observed as the Day of National Resolve to Promote Education. The attack shocked the country scarred by nearly a decade of insurgency. Students and parents still complain of ongoing trauma for which many are still receiving psychological help.
“Everyone is traumatised inside the school,” said Mehran Khan, a 14-year-old student at the school. “We are all thinking that there will be another attack.”