Commemorating the Young APS Martyrs 2016


As we approach the end of 2016 we not only carry our accomplishments, success and happiness, but also the sorrow, guilt and burden on our shoulders for a tragedy that shook us two years ago. The tragic killing of 144 innocent people including young APS Martyrs in the name of extremist ideologoies left us with introspection, messages of solidarity yet also, unity. My Voice Unheard expresses its solidarity through a series of messages for those who departed and for those children who will make the future of Pakistan. #NeverForget #December16 #APS#APSAttack #SaluteToAPSmartyrs

It is very natural to forget good or bad events and move on with daily life- yet some memories, engrave our hearts and soul with blemishes, especially tragic events like the morning that 16th December 2014, left us with. Like some of our accomplishments will always be a part of our identities, so will the loss of these 144 children always, remind us how inhumane humans we have become. The tragic crucification of defenseless children, young teachers and the sacrifice of our army men are not new to the nation and this does not mean that our resilience make us immune to tragedies. We have hope in the children of today who will take up as leaders of tomorrow for a beautiful, strong Pakistan. The anguish and pain may continue for us; but flawlessly, so will the courage, resilience and determination, to make this place a better world will continue to flourish in our hearts and minds. This, we hope for.” –

By Anum Nawaz | Picture by Hammad Anwar

The APS tragedy was different in so many capacities: scale, age group, nature of the terror. Angst. Scathing pain. To expose the young school going children for the first time to the truth that the world is not all good or safe. Everything about APS is simply hard to reconcile with. However, I strongly believe that tragedy, of any form, is life altering phenomenon. We seek hope and move on through what we make of this tragedy. For most, this tragedy didn’t only break us, it also made us.The war is still ongoing: to accept chaos, unresolved questions and sometimes there are just no answers. These little flowers in uniforms, their courage, their unflinching hopes and dreams became a daily resolve to turn remembrance into a powerful,positive ability:to be more courageous than ever in our capacities as human beings, to reach out those who need courage and help, to educate in truth and kindness, to aspire to be far better human beings or leave good as they wanted to, so it can outmeasure the void and magnify their spirits.

By Amina Rizwan (Amina Rizwan- Jewellery & Design Studio) | Artwork by: Agha Jandan

It’s funny how what seems like the end of the world at a time, so easily recedes into our memories. It’s been two years since that terrible time, and we’ve all moved on with our lives since then. 2016 has been a trying year, every month bringing fresh grief. However, 16th Dec is still indelibly etched into our memories. It still makes my heart ache to think of those poor little souls. I hope that every time we are reminded of them, we do a little bit more to make our country a better place to live in. Remembrance is necessary, but making the future brighter is the only homage they need.

By Alina Nasir | Picture courtesy:

The beautiful flower buds were destroyed way before blooming. Such were the children at the ill-fated school APS, Peshawar who lost their lives way before they should have. Those were the children who were budding with big dreams in their eyes and aspirations for their future. They were gone way too soon. But those young martyrs must have blossomed in the heaven. The heaven would be filled with their smiles and laughter. Now it all makes sense. This cruel world was no place for such beautiful smiles. Heaven was waiting for those tiny buds to bloom there.

By Eilaf Zehra | Image courtesy: Jon Shireman

To all those brothers, sons, daughters, sisters, fathers, mothers, wives and friends! Today marks two years of your unbearable pain and tears. We know you have picked up the remaining pieces of life and trying very hard to make sense of it but it is hard to put them in place again. The void and ache in your hearts and the echo of your silent moans, we hear them too. As a sister I pray may NOBODY go through the pain of losing a sibling and I know when I will become a mother I would give away my own life before anything happens to my kid.

We are here not just for the sake of it but because we want to be. We want you to know our bodies shudder every time we think about this loss and you. We are sorry that we were unable to protect your flowers and the heroes who refused to leave them alone. I want you to know that not only 16th December engulfs me in sorrow and despair at my own failure. It is every day of my life that reminds me of what was taken away so brutally from all of you. Lots of prayers for you people. May the smiles and the laughter find their way to you again.

By Faiqa Ahmad | Image courtesy:

They say time heals, I think that is just a nice way of saying that we learn how to conceal our wounds from the world. Deep down they don’t heal, especially when they are caused by senseless violence.
Today, we mark the second anniversary of that horrid day, when the most desensitized among us were shaken to the core. Children were not just the so called collateral damage but were the key target. We had failed our children and this year has been particularly cruel to children around the globe. No amount of tributes will ever be enough to console their families.

I took this picture back in 2012, in Swat at the spot where once used to stand the grand PTDC hotel of Malamjabba. By the time I got to visit the place there was just a skeleton of the grand architecture and the stories of the locals of how they were witness to the sad transformation. Swat had just started to recovery from the phase of violence it was pushed into.

As we commemorate 16th December, a day we will never forget and as we are frequently reminded of the maddening times we live in through and the collective injustice children are facing, I revisit this image to help me cling on to the hope that we will get to see a time where our children are no longer at the forefront of ill-conceived wars. Their childhood will be carefree, filled with their creative imagination like it is meant to be.

Written and image by Fatima Arif

I still remember I was at home and my cousin`s kids were visiting us. It was around noon and we were playing games on iPad and then drove to nearby market, bought kurkarey, took a happy selfie and came back. It was then when I read tweets about the attack on army school in Peshawar. After the initial shock of a terrorist attack on a school, the concern was for the safety of people there. They were more or less of the same age as of the kids sitting right next to me playing on tablet. Unfortunately rest is history as we ended the day with 144 grieving families and millions mourning. It was a day when actually streets of Lahore were less crowded, a day when parking of restaurants were empty. I could not leave my room that day; it remains one of the darkest days of my life and this nation. Words fail when one try to write about it, there are too many stories. As a brother, I cannot imagine losing my siblings to something like this, hard to imagine what goes in the mind and hearts of those parents and kids who lost their sons and brothers.

Two years on, we have at least somewhat admitted (rather reluctantly) that there are no strategic assets and we need to eradicate everything which promotes hatred and discrimination. But we have long way to go, this war cannot be won in far flung mountains of Wazirisitan, the battle is also raging right in the heart of Gulberg, Lahore. Carpet bombing might wipe out their arsenal and hideouts but until you address the issues like social, religious and economic discrimination in our daily lives, this won`t stop.

We need to rise above all of this; schools, parents, teachers, friends, mentors, religious scholars and institutions need a better collaborative effort. Yes, Muslim can do bad things and they are doing it, not just APS but we have children being beaten, raped, murdered, and kidnapped on daily basis. About time we stop blaming everything on one country or the other and clean up our own mess.

So yes please change DPs, please write long statuses and letters, please make videos (I did all of the above myself) but please tomorrow try to pay tribute to them in another way. Be empathetic to people around you, embrace any differences or disagreements based on any social, religious & political factors and lets all agree to disagree. Banning one community or blaming one country won’t help. So next time you see or hear something that you totally disagree with, please go ahead and disagree but please understand the worth of one life.

Written and Image by Hammad Anwar

Sometimes in life we witness things that cannot ever be forgotten; these things touch us so profoundly and so deeply that they end up becoming a part of us and for me, the APS attack was such a thing; it was one of those things that made me question my faith in humanity and I felt so disillusioned for a while after that.

The Peshawar tragedy gave birth to so many wounds -both literal and metaphorical- and despite the fact that two years have passed since then, the marks still remain and will always remain and serve as a reminder of what was indeed one of the most tragic incidents of Pakistan’s short history.

However, despite all of this, I know that as a nation, this event has made us stronger and brought us closer together and we will heal and as a wise man once said: “The feeling may remain, but the healing must continue.”

By Maryam Mudasar | Image courtesy: MEHAK TANWEER

The needles of time will keep flying. They will never wait for anybody. They will never look back. We will never be able to keep up with the pace of those needles if we keep looking back. They will only give us loss. They will only take away what is dear to us. The choice is ours. We can either keep looking back and become trapped in the never-ending vortex of those needles of time. Or we can free ourselves from their clutches. We can fly, fly away from the loss. We can fly, fly towards the light at the end of the tunnel. We can fly, fly away from the cowards who took everything away from us. We can fly, fly towards the sky of peace. The needles of time will keep flying. They will never wait for anybody. All we need to do is fly, fly faster than the needles of time.

By Minahil Amin | Image courtesy: Marissa Graham

The horrors of that eventful day are slowly being forgotten. We are accustomed to forgetting those memories which are worst and remember those which are good. There is no good in remembering the tragedy but there is also no good in forgetting the tragedy as well. We yearn to never let that tragedy traverse again, yet, we always circumvent the fact that remembering the day again would prepare us for the worst. The events can happen again. History may repeat itself. It will keep on repeating and will enter a loop until there is no way of escaping it. Remember the December 16th, 2014, the day the children bleed red on their green tee.

By Mohsin Jilani | Image courtesy: Twitter

In our tradition, whoever kills a single person unjustly has killed all mankind. Two years ago today, all mankind was killed 141 times over. This unfathomable crime created a debt in the precious balance of life to which all gentle hearts feel bound. Although the time for saving those precious lives has escaped us, our tradition teaches us that saving a single life saves all mankind. On this day when we struggle with grief of what can never be undone, let us not miss the countless opportunities before us to save all mankind.

By Omar Mirza (Zindan) | Image courtesy:

Two years have passed and the strange feeling of anger and regret is still flowing in my blood, corroding my skin. Frustration’s still swelling throughout my body, coursing down into my legs, feet and toes. Helplessness is welling up inside me because two years have passed and we are still not safe from such atrocities. This incident drilled in my soul a hole that no one could fill. With the commencement of December, this hole expands until it consumes me entirely.

“Please, don’t kill me. I promised my mom I’ll return home on time today. Just don’t kill me today”. Screams and the pleas of the martyred children have started to echo in my mind once again. Their images are flashing before my eyes. Holding this pen in my hand, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I try to find humanity in the earthly creatures that just look like humans from the facade.

December must be so hard for the families of the martyred. I can’t imagine what the families must be going through right now. The mothers must be still cursing themselves for ironing their children’s uniforms, for waking them up and preparing them breakfast. Silence haunting their houses, which were previously homes. The streets of Peshawar dark and gloomy, the air filled with blubber and hollers. This incident can never be forgotten. It’s going to be a part of our lives until our last breaths because the faces of the innocent children will never stop flashing before our eyes.

Written and image By Salman Bokhari

No catastrophe on earth can be more incomprehensible than the loss of our children on December 16th. Every day the sky is filled with clouds, the sun, then the moon and the hues of this earth, but when suddenly, a formation of birds appears, all moving together, all securing each other, I know that you are fine and not alone.

By Shama Mir |Picture courtesy: Getty Images

December 16, 2014 is a black day in our history. On this day we failed as a nation to protect the innocence of our future generation. Horrors were introduced not only into the families of the victims and in the minds of the survivals but also in our whole generation when school walls were barbed and other security measures were taken.

It is simply heart-rending to look at the pictures of those angels whose hearts were yet untouched and unpolluted by the wicked ways of this world. To imagine who could be so heartless and thoughtless to punish those innocent souls for whatever reason they believed they had the right to. This tragic incident that shook the spirit of humanity engendered an atmosphere of terror and chaos. All schools were shut down and children sent home. A whole generation eternally traumatized.

But the question of the hour is how we can commemorate that wretched day. There are many effective ways to do so, getting together and lighting a candle in the memory of those innocent victims being one of them and sends a message to those inhumane monsters, the patrons of ignorance. We oughtn’t to forget this day so that we never neglect to safeguard the future generation from such horrors again.

Since nothing can reverse the clock and undo this gut wrenching incident, the best way to commemorate it is to look for the root cause behind it. What social and political factors should be held responsible for it? Are we as a society totally blameless? If we scrutinized our general attitudes we will see we’re a lot more responsible for such things to happen then we think we are. Do we not encourage the extremist religious mindsets which eventually lead to extremist acts of violence? The evidence suggests we do.

Therefore, if we really want to honor the memory of those innocent souls who were massacred in the war of extremism and intolerance we’d better put our differences aside. We need to learn to tolerate and respect each other’s religious and political viewpoints. Also we need to stop being deliberately manipulated by extremist people and do our personal research on controversial religious matters. And last but not the least, we need to never forget what we lost in our stubborn rigidity and keep the dire memory of this day alive for generations to come. The nations whose children are the heroes of war are the most wretched because it’s not a source of pride but shame for the institutes of that nation.

By Tayyaba Iftikhar | Image courtesy: Rabtt


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