It has been exactly 4 years today since the dreadful news of a militant attack on Army Public School (APS), Peshawar broke on the news. Within an hour we had lost over 100 children.
The nation was at once hit with grief, shock and anger. However, with all the anguish that we collectively experienced in the aftermath of the tragedy, none could even come close to understanding the trauma and heart ache of those who survived.
How will the children who witnessed their friends and teachers fall in front of their eyes ever fully recover from the horror of that day?
How will the teachers who helplessly walked past the slain bodies of their beloved students ever find refuge from the distressing shadow of survivor’s guilt?
And then there are the parents. Parents who had nurtured their children every step of the way. From the moment that their children had come into this world, the parents had been there to cheer their every achievement. They had celebrated their child’s first word, helped him take his first step and were proud of the vibrant young man that he was becoming. How will the hearts of these parents ever be consoled who lost their children, so quickly, so mindlessly, so unnecessarily. The knowledge that the last minutes of their child’s time on Earth were filled with horror and pain is enough to drive any parent to insanity and yet, they wake up every morning with a void in their hearts that no amount of comfort can ever fill.
They will never forget. The students, the teachers and the parents. 16th December 2014 has engraved in their memories a day so dark, an experience so horrific that for as long as they live, the pain and trauma caused by that day will live with them.
And because they won’t forget – because they can’t forget, neither should the rest of us. We can’t ever truly understand their pain – and I pray no parent ever has to – but the absolute least that we can do is to ensure that the martyrs of Army Public School are never forgotten; that they continue to live in our memories as long as our memory stays with us.
My fellow Pakistanis, please never forget.