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January 17, 2015

Candlelight vigil held in memory of APS martyrs


January 17, 2015

A candlelight vigil was organised to remember martyred children of Army Public School (APS) in front of the Parliament House here on Friday.
The protesters started chanting slogans demanding the arrest of Red Mosque cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.
“Arrest Maulana Aziz. We don’t want political statements anymore. We want action, not words. We want proof of your commitment,” were the main slogans chanted by the crowd. They also criticised PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah for his statements.
The gathering was organised on the call of Team Pakistan, a civil society initiative. The vigil marked one month of the barbaric attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar that killed over 140 students and teachers.
A large number of people from all walks of life joined the vigil to express their solidarity with the victims of Peshawar incident. They were holding banners inscribed with the commitments of political and military leadership that they would finish terrorists from the country and there would be no safe haven for them in the country.
“Terrorists thought that they would defeat us with this cowardly act but they have made us even stronger,” said Aneesa Zeb Tahirkheli from Qaumi Watan Party. She said that this incident has finally drawn a clear line between those who support terrorism and those who don’t.
“I salute the mothers of Peshawar who have sent their children back to schools. We will never forget Peshawar and we will always draw courage form this incident,” she said.
Talking to ‘The News,’ eminent human rights activist Tahira Abdullah demanded the government to arrest Abdul Aziz ‘Burqaposh.’ “We are here because we will never forget Peshawar massacre. We will have to keep pressure on the government and military to fulfil the promises they have made to the nation after this unfortunate incident,” she said.
Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed said that he feels the pain of all those

killed in terrorist attacks inside or outside the boundaries of Pakistan. Later, talking to the media regarding the arrest of Maulana Abdul Aziz, he said that all those who break the law should be punished according to the law. “We have started the legal process and action would be taken according to law.”
Senator Robina Khalid said that everyone is responsible for the present situation. “Now is the time to play role for the solution. We need to come out to show strength and to show that we are not afraid,” she said.
Writer and analyst Haris Khaleeq said that problem is not over yet as major stakeholders have come to one page only for short term solutions. “The issue of terrorism and extremism cannot be resolved unless the whole nation becomes united against the narrative that is the root cause of this mess. We are still divided on that,” he said.
Activist Naeem Mirza urged political parties to take out rallies against terrorism. “Why don’t political parties come out on street and show their resolve against terrorists,” he asked.
Children from different government schools also joined the protest. They recited poems for their fellow students and chanted slogans to express solidarity with the children of Peshawar.
Another vigil and protest was organised in Aabpara. The protesters brought 140 coffins along with them and blocked the road. They made fiery speeches mainly demanding the arrest of Abdul Aziz in accordance with the FIR registered on December 27, 2014.
They presented their charter of demand and urged the government to involve all communities in developing a sustained policy to counter terrorism and extremism, and enforce zero tolerance towards hate speech or violence.
The charter demanded the government to protect those being attacked in the name of religion, including polio health workers and end misuse of the “blasphemy law” besides starting a crackdown on all clerics and militant groups who spread Takfir (declaring others non-Muslim).
The charter also demanded to ensure compliance of laws regarding media responsibility and monitor sermons, regulate madaris (religious seminaries), and fast track madaris reforms. It also demanded implementation of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan (The right to education) in letter and spirit, and open the ‘ghost schools’ of Pakistan (that exist only on paper) in memory of the fallen students and teachers of the Army Public School and College, Peshawar.
The general public looks clearly uneasy with the approach of political leadership to fight terrorism. This was evident in front of the Parliament House on Friday when protesters, did not let Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheed speak to the gathering and their message was clear – action not words.
The crowd did not stop the minister from joining the vigil in stark contrast to the treatment meted out to Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Imran Khan when he visited APS to express solidarity with the children.

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