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Lahore

January 17, 2015

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People express solidarity with APS victims, families

LAHORE
HUNDREDs of civil society activists have gathered to express solidarity with victims and families of the brazen Taliban attack on Army Public High School Peshawar on December 16 in which more than 140 students were killed.
Commemorating the one month anniversary of the brutality on Friday at Charing Cross, civil society activists and political figures from all the major parties denounced the ghastly act of terrorism and urged all segments of the society to unite against those elements threatening Pakistan. It is important to note that similar rallies and candle vigils were held in Islamabad, Karachi, Sargodha, and other cities.
Workers from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Muslim League (PML), Awami Workers Party (AWP), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) also joined the rallying crowds on Friday.
Men and women from all walks of life participated in the demonstration and candle vigil in large numbers with many holding banners calling for the elimination of terrorism and religious extremism and end to hate speech in the institutions of religious education. Protesters, talking to The News, said the government should adopt a zero tolerance policy towards Taliban apologists and Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz should be immediately arrested for allegedly defending the attack on Army Public High School Peshawar last month.
Addressing a large gathering outside the Punjab Assembly, human rights activist and lawyer Hina Jilani said the general public and government of Pakistan had just begun to realise the gravity of the challenge confronting Pakistan whereas women rights activists had struggled for the last thirty years over this pressing issue.
Hina paid tribute to the mothers and daughters who lost their loved ones in the Peshawar carnage and other catastrophic terrorist attacks in the country. The activists urged the government to end distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’

Taliban as past policy failure had strengthened terrorist outfits and banned outfits continue to enjoy varying degrees of State patronage.
General Secretary of Pakistan Awami Workers Party Farooq Tariq called for the arrest of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz for making Taliban apologists’ remarks soon after the APS attack.
He demanded an end to State patronage of religious fanatics, punishment of late Governor Salmaan
Taseer’s killer, and an end to rising Talibanisation in the country. Tariq said the general public would not forget Peshawar and would not let it be forgotten by the government.
Members of Pakistan Association for the Disabled, Pakistan Blind Association, and Khawaja Sara community also voiced their condemnation of the Taliban attack on APS and expressed their solidarity with the fight against terror. Family members of those killed in the Wagah Border blast last year also spoke on Friday and said they would not let their loved ones blood go in vain. We will not stop until all the terrorists are avenged, they chanted to the crowd outside the Punjab Assembly.
Representing his party, PML-N Lahore President MNA Pervaiz Malik expressed solidarity with the families of Peshawar attack victims and stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif government was committed to implementing the National Action Plan to eradicate terrorism. The PML-N MNA vowed that the attack by Taliban on Army Public High School would be avenged and all efforts and measures were being taken to rid Pakistan of terrorism.
Former Minister for Education and leader of PML Mian Imran Masood, meanwhile, said serious political will was yet to be demonstrated by the current government to confront the sinister designs of terrorist groups. Pakistan People’s Party Human Rights Wing member Asif Khan said the last year had seen horrible attacks on religious minorities and it was important that the government did not fall prey to hardliner groups in the country as it had done in the past. Other prominent personalities, participating in the demonstration, included daughter of PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, Jahanara Wattoo, former PPP MPA Sajida Mir, and PTI activist Dr. Seemi Bokhari.
The rally ended with the lighting of candles and recital of the national anthem. Upcoming Faiz Ahmed Faiz Aman Mela to be held in February this year has been dedicated to the martyred children of the Army Public High School Peshawar.

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