Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed revenge as the country commemorated the one-year anniversary of the worst-ever extremist attack.
Remembering the attack on APS
At roughly 10:30 AM, December 16, 2014, seven foreign-fighters associated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) disguised in uniforms of the Pakistani Frontier Corps entered the back of the Army Public School in Peshawar having scaled the walls of a nearby cemetery. The attackers, armed with automatic weapons, proceeded to an auditorium where students were receiving First aid training and opened fire on the assembled children and staff.
Learning of the attacks, the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG) immediately converged on the school to stop the massacre, while Pakistan’s worst, from becoming even worse. The decision to immediately storm the building rather than waiting to form an assault plan likely saved countless more lives. Though over 150 people were killed in the attacks including 134 children, over 950 people were rescued in the raid that left all seven of the attackers dead. It should be noted that some discrepancies still exist with unofficial reports claiming that well over 400 people were killed in the cowardly attack.
Fallout from the APS attack
The day after the attack (December 17, 2014), acting and present Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed the necessary paperwork to lift the moratorium on the death penalty in terror-related cases which had been in place since 2008.
“The entire nation asked: do these beasts, devoid of all humanity, deserve any mercy?” said Mr. Sharif after lifting the moratorium.
The move was condemned by David Griffiths, Deputy Director for Amnesty International Asia-Pacific. After the moratorium was removed he said, “Resorting to the death penalty is not the answer – it is never the answer. This is where the government should focus its energies, rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence with the resumption of executions.”
While that may be his job, it could be argued that he is dead wrong. Pakistan has seen its fewest amount of civilian deaths in terror attacks in a single year since the Pakistani Taliban came into existence in 2007.
In the year since the attacks, Pakistan engaged the TTP with a number of targeted killings and drone strikes and also executed a number of people involved in the planning of the attack.
Today’s speech at APS
In commemoration of the shocking massacre that has been called Pakistan’s “mini-911”, all schools nationwide were closed today.
Speaking beneath the pictures of the fallen children in the attack Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the victims directly.
“We are here to remember you, you will always live in our hearts,” Mr. Sharif said. “And I also pledge to you that we will take revenge for every drop of your blood.”
Army chief General Raheel Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan also attended the ceremony which is said to have numbered around 2,500 in spite of dozens of families of the victims not in attendance out of protest.
Others attended but were not hesitant to express their anger to reporters in attendance. “I only want an answer to my question… Why did the state fail to protect my child?” said one man who would only identify himself as the father of Hamid Ali Khan who was killed in the attack.
Earlier this year, 107 schools in Pakistan were renamed after the victims in the attacks.
Execution of the remaining attackers
In August of this year, seven men were convicted for their involvement in the attack on the APS in Peshawar with six being sentenced to death. Four of those six were executed earlier this month and there is little reason to believe the remaining two will have their sentences commuted.