Peshawar's wounds yet to heal after school massacre
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On 16th December 2014, Pakistan suffered its worst terror atrocity in the country’s history. Over 150 people were killed, including 134 children, in a massacre carried out by the Taliban at a military-run school in Peshawar. Our correspondents went to Peshawar to meet parents still struggling with grief and residents trying to carry on with their lives despite frequent terrorist threats.
On 16th December 2014, Pakistan suffered its worst terror atrocity in the country’s history, when more than 130 students were killed in a massacre carried out by the Pakistani Taliban at a military-run school in the city of Peshawar.
Immediately after the attack, the Pakistani government called for a national action plan, in which it gave the military unprecedented powers. Other steps taken included the resumption of the death penalty which had been suspended since 2008. Some unknown facilitators of the school attack were hanged. In addition, the Pakistani broadcast media was told to stop giving any airtime to militants or their story.
But more than a year after the attack, parents who lost their children describe these measures as simply cosmetic. They feel that there has been no transparency into the investigations and that there is a serious lack of accountability, particularly with regards to the Pakistan Army which was responsible for keeping their children safe. They have insisted on action against the military officials who did not perform their duties but these demands have fallen on deaf ears. The parents also feel that the Pakistan Army has focused mainly on PR exercises. By using the media, it has crafted a narrative where things look different, but nothing has really changed.
But such open criticism comes at a cost. Many of the parents have been threatened, and divisions have been engineered within their ranks to weaken their resolve. The media has resorted to self-censorship and has not provided them with a platform to voice their concerns.
Our correspondents revisit the city to meet such parents. They also document security in schools around the city following the attack, and unique measures such as teachers carrying weapons.
And have things really changed for the better or as the parents complain – is it just business as usual?
Facts seem to confirm the parents’ feelings. Just last month, another university near Peshawar city was attacked by the Pakistani Taliban. As they threaten more attacks against schools, the future of Pakistan’s younger generation is in jeopardy, while the state is busy crafting a message of all is well…