"You Are Not Alone," Peshawar School Attack Survivors Tell Paris
In memory of the Peshawar and Paris attack victims
NEW DELHI: The mood at a monthly gathering of survivors of one of the deadliest attacks to have hit Pakistan was more sombre than usual this week, as students of an army run school in Peshawar that was targeted by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan in December last year offered prayers, condolences and messages of solidarity to the people of France.
Referring to the gunmen who killed over a 130 people in the French capital on Friday night, the students said that those responsible were “animals” who had “nothing to do with Islam.”
Many of the students present had narrowly escaped an attack on their school on December 16, 2014, where more than 130 children were killed at the hands of the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed the attacks as retribution for the army operation against their strongholds in the northern and western parts of the troubled country.
“It took us back,” said Syed Shah, the father of one of the victims, of the Paris attacks (as quoted by AFP). “Our whole family cried for hours,” Shah said, whilst watching news of the attacks in Paris on television. “We feel the pain of the French better than anyone, because we know it.”
Student Azam Mehmood said he found it “hard to believe” that such violence could strike in the heart of Paris, capital of what he -- like many Pakistanis -- believed to be a “highly developed, peaceful and secure country” (AFP quote).
Chemistry teacher Andalib Aftab lost her 16-year-old son as well as many students in the Peshawar attack. She said tearfully during Monday’s meeting that she wants to “tell the French they are not alone” (AFP quote).
The Paris attacks have had an impact on Pakistan, a country that routinely deals with terror attacks at the hand of the TTP and its allied groups. It is also a country notorious for exporting terror, to Afghanistan and Kashmir in India.
"The people and government of Pakistan strongly condemn the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris," Pakistan’s foreign office said following Friday nights attacks, adding that people and government of Pakistan wanted to convey their sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and the people and government of France.
The best responses to Paris from Pakistan, however, have come from those outside of the government and military apparatus, such as the school children and their families and teachers in Peshawar.
A group of Pakistani comedians have released a video with a heartfelt message from the people of Pakistan to the people of Paris.
“As you may know, on 13 November the French capital suffered barbaric acts of terror. And we'd like you to know that we're just as horrified as everyone else around the world...
We are completely praying for your safety and security. We actually are one of the few nations who completely understand what you guys are going through. Why? Because incidents like these are really common in Pakistan.”