Interfaith Youth in Action/Youth Development Foundation (YDF) and Seeds of Peace Pakistan raised their voice against the school massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School in which Taliban militants killed 132 children and nine staff.
Twenty five students, mostly from colleges and universities, participated in a protest organized by IYA/YDF, marking the first day of mourning after seven gunmen raided the Army Public School on December 16 in Peshawar and opened fire on the students assembled in the auditorium. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claims the attack was justified because the Pakistani army had long been killing innocent children and families of their fighters.
“There are no words to comment on this cruelty. We are dead as a nation,” said an emotionally charged Warda Javed Cheema at the Liberty Chowk demonstration in Lahore. “We know Islam, we are being taught about its principles since childhood and there is no justification for killing innocent children. We demand ultimate punishment for the Taliban.”
Despite the chill in the air, Warda was among the young protestors holding Pakistani flags and carrying banners with various slogans including black day, we condemn this cowardice act, and we demand peace. At the conclusion of the two hour protest, all who gathered placed candles and flower bouquets on the grassy ground.
Shakeel Salamat, a Catholic, along with three other friends, also participated in the demonstration. “Everywhere you go people are talking about this. We are all saddened by this barbaric act and our hearts are heavy this Christmas. We demand ultimate punishment for these terror groups and people who share similar thinking,” he said.
Shahid Ghouri, who founded IYA/YDF five years ago, demanded immediate action on the part of the government. “Our society is plagued with extremism and intolerance. There can be no compensation for the loss of grieving parents,” he added. For months our news channels have focused on political rivalries – the ongoing army operation could have started years ago.