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May 28, 2015

APS martyrs’ mothers demand judicial probe


May 28, 2015

The mothers of the martyred students of Army Public School Peshawar (APC) during a special conference on the National Action Plan (NAP) on Wednesday urged the government to constitute a judicial commission to probe into the brutal incident and bring the perpetrators to book.
They also demanded declare Dec 16 a national holiday in remembrance of the tragedy and awarding of Nishan-e-Haider to the martyred children of civilian families.
The families of the APS carnage victims had travelled from Peshawar to Lahore for a special session on their sacrifices in the war against terror. The session, which also featured parliamentarians from the federal and provincial levels, was part of the ‘Pur Amn (Peaceful) Pakistan Conference’ organised by the Punjab government in collaboration with the Bargad Organization for Youth Development, Umeed Jawan, and Punjab Youth Parliamentary Caucus.
It is interesting to note that Home Minister Col (r) Shuja Khanzada failed to attend the first day of the conference and hear the recommendations by the participants.
Holding pictures of their children killed in the attack, the bereaved mothers accompanied by the families of Youhanabad Church blast victims voiced their grievances over the government’s attitude and called for effective implementation of the 20 points of NAP devised by all political parties after the gruesome episode.
They lamented that their sons had died without completing their childhood and fulfilling their future dreams. Each mother present on Wednesday spoke of their children’s career ambitions that ranged from becoming army officer to doctor and social workers dedicated to alleviating poverty.
Breaking down in tears while talking about the APS martyrs, they shared the details of the psychological trauma experienced by their families after the untimely death of the children.
“We do not want compensation from the government. We only want justice for our children butchered by the

terrorists and safety for our children going to school everyday. Unfortunately, our government has not fulfilled our demands and the (small amount of) money invested in education in the country demonstrates the lack of priority given to tackling radicalism,” said a young mother of two boys killed in the attack.
A mother furious over the lack of security arrangements in Peshawar after the attack complained that the political leadership seemed unconcerned with the tragedy confronted by citizens and was going to extraordinary level to enhance its VIP protocol.
The mothers insisted that the blood of their children should not be politicised and used for point scoring by rival parties.
Speaking on the occasion, PML-N MNA and chair of the National Women Caucus Shaista Pervaiz Malik expressed solidarity with the bereaved mothers and sympathised with their loss and continuing pain over the absence of their loved ones.
She assured the mothers that the political leadership was undertaking numerous measures under the National Action Plan and the seriousness of the APS attack had geared all the stakeholders into action. She saluted them for waking the nation to the problem of terrorism that threatens the sovereignty of Pakistan and regretted that the female parliamentarians in the ruling party were not allowed to visit Peshawar and condole with the families due to security concerns.
Malik urged the audience and families of victims to dispel their preconceived notions about politicians and said all the Pakistanis faced the same threats.
The female parliamentarian was interrupted during her speech by mothers angry over her statement of a judicial commission on the APS Peshawar not being the answer to the problem. Malik had argued that such matters of huge importance do not warrant a judicial commission and instead called for serious action by law enforcement agencies and military. The mothers of the slain children, however, insisted that their demand for a commission should be met so as to ascertain why the attack took place and to identify the perpetrators as was the case in Safoora Goth incident.
PML-N MPA Ramesh Singh Arora also expressed his heartfelt condolences with the families.
The emotional session became a victim of anarchy when PML-N MPA Farha Manzoor blasted the PTI for ignoring the problems of their voters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and resorting to the sit-ins politics. Parents and relatives of the APS victims seated in the audience protested against the political rhetoric invoked during a sombre occasion and staged a walkout against the remarks of the PML-N lawmaker.
Some mothers on the stage refrained from accepting the tokens of remembrance over the political sloganeering and cried that their children had been trapped in political crossfire. Later, the MPA apologised for her remarks.
Mothers of the martyred children present on Monday who were awarded shields by Malik included Fehmida (mother of Awais and Zeeshan), Shagufta, (mother of Shamvail and Nagayal), Shaheen (mother of Mubeen Shah), Shahana (mother of Asfand Khan), Shahnaz (mother of Gul Shair), Afsha (mother of Yaseen), Seema (mother of Amman Khan), Sadaf (mother of Basit Ali), Iffat (mother of Zain Iqbal), Gullarana (mother of M Ali), Nasira (mother of Hassan Zaib), Shagufta (mother of Abdullah Azam), Huma (mother of Abdullah), Samina (mother of Fahad), Farah Naz (mother of Uzair), Afsana (mother of Adnan Hussain), Shahida Nasreen (mother of M Haris), Bibi Amina (mother of Afaq Ahmed), Naik Pari (mother of Yasir Iqbal), Fazilat Jan (mother of M Mohsin and Murtaza), Razia (mother of Yasirullah), Gulnaz (mother of Daud), Shahida Bano (mother of Ibrar), Shagufta (mother of Shaheer), Rozina (mother of Awais Nasir), Noreen (mother of Amar Iqbal) and Gul Shahzad (mother of Sadia Gul).
Others present on the occasion included Shahnaz (wife of Nawab Ali), Romansia (sister of Hajara) and Shahid (brother of Asad Aziz) along with the families of Youhanabad victims - Abhishek Sarfaraz (father of Shaheen Mariya), Akasha Basher (mother of Naz Bano) and Musa Tanveer (father of Rehana Shahnaz).
The conference also hosted a panel discussion featuring the likes of senior journalists Arif Nizami, Omar R Qureshi, PML-Q MPA Sardar Mokal and MQM leader Faisal Sabzwari.
The panellists urged the government to focus on curriculum reforms to curb religious radicalism and to understand the difference between counterterrorism and counter-extremism. They regretted that the government had placed a disproportionate focus on military courts and death penalty for terrorists without addressing the registration of seminaries and other important points mentioned in the NAP.
Sabzwari criticised the raid at Nine Zero and alleged that the banned outfits in Karachi continued to operate under the state protection. He along with other speakers regretted that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) was inactive in the face of increasing terrorist attacks.

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