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Parents of Army Public School attack victims feel dejected

Parents of Army Public School attack victims feel dejected

PESHAWAR: As the country is set to observe the first anniversary of the Army Public School Peshawar carnage on Dec 16, the government’s failure to meet their major demands, including the start of a judicial inquiry into the terrorist attack, have deepened the grief of the victims’ parents.

Such parents say had their demands been accepted, it would have been a source of consolation for them.

In the last one year, they have raised their demands at different forums, but in vain.

“We have been continuously demanding of the federal and provincial governments to conduct judicial inquiry into the killing of innocent students,” Shuhada APS Forum general secretary Ajoon Khan told Dawn.

Ajoon Khan, whose son Asfand Khan, a 10th grader at the APS, was among the assassinated students, said besides calling for a judicial inquiry into the massacre, parents of the schoolchildren had also demanded of the government to fix responsibility for security lapse.

The militants had assassinated 144 people, including 122 students, and seriously injured 73 others in the Dec 16 attack on the APS.

APS Shuhada Forum president Abid Raza Bangash said no tragic incident like the Dec 16 one would happen again if the government conducted judicial inquiry and fixed responsibility for security failure.

He said the people involved in the assassination of schoolchildren should be hanged publicly to ensure the security of the future generation.

“We are not satisfied with the so-called inquiries conducted so far as such inquiries are conducted to pull the wool over the eyes of the families of the deceased as well as the entire nation,” said a aggrieved parent.

Ajoon Khan said the second demand of the parents was to incorporate a chapter regarding the APS tragic incident in 9th and 10th grade textbooks as most of the assassinated stud-ents were enrolled in the same grades.

“The inclusion of a chapter on the APS carnage in textbooks will keep the tragic incident alive forever,” he said.

The APS Shuhada Forum president said the third demand of the parents was to declare Dec 16 a national holiday to honour the attack victims but ironically, the federal government had yet to meet it.

“We (parents) have also been demanding of the government to establish the APS Shuhada University,” he said.

He said a university established in the name of assassinated children would provide an opportunity to a large number of students to get higher education.

Ajoon said the parents had asked the provincial government time and again to provide them with land for the university’s establishment as some donors had pledged to fund the university project.

He said parents also demanded the conferment of Nishan-i-Pakistan civil award on the families of the assassinated schoolchildren.

“We don’t need any financial package with Nishan-i-Pakistan. We only need acknowledgment of our children’s sacrifices,” he said.

Ajnoon said as a protest, the families of the APS attack victims had marched from Peshawar to Islamabad on the Independence Day before staging a sit-in outside the President’s House.

“During the sit-in, President Mamnoon Hussain had agreed to give us time for a meeting. After some days, we met the president and apprised him of demands verbally and in writing. The president promised to fulfil demands but none of them has been fulfilled until now,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 12th, 2015

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