What Pakistan went through during the Peshawar attack

Published: December 20, 2014
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Why is this happening? What kind of barbarians target children? What do those poor innocent souls have to do with anyone’s agenda? PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/ EXPRESS

Why is this happening? What kind of barbarians target children? What do those poor innocent souls have to do with anyone’s agenda? PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/ EXPRESS Why is this happening? What kind of barbarians target children? What do those poor innocent souls have to do with anyone’s agenda? PHOTO: AFP

Students of Psychology will be familiar with the Kübler-Ross model. The five stages of loss and grief. ‘Normal grief’. Grief of losing a loved one to a terminal illness. Grief that one has prepared themselves for. Grief that concludes with acceptance. However, there is no theory for the event in which all the first four stages of grief collide. Nothing to explain the kind of grief that does not end with ‘acceptance’.

Yesterday, December 16, 2014, demonstrated to us a new trough in humanity. Just when we thought we had hit rock-bottom in a society where human life has nil value, we were reminded that evil can find a way to burrow underneath rock-bottom as well. Yesterday, my hometown witnessed a group of savages storm a school and proceed to kill 141 people, 132 of which were children. Yesterday, Peshawar wept with tears of blood. The blood of innocent children. The blood of the future of Pakistan.

According to the Kübler-Ross model, normal grief goes through a cycle of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The Peshawar massacre took me through all stages but acceptance.

Denial: No. This cannot be happening. Schools are meant to be safe. I am sure it’s a false alarm. Maybe the children have been evacuated. The army will probably regain control. Surely, no one can be inhumane enough to kill children in school while they sit their exams?

Anger: As reports surface of casualties, a sense of anger overtakes. Why is this happening? What kind of barbarians target children? What do those poor innocent souls have to do with anyone’s agenda? Get those children and teachers out of there! Why isn’t any politician issuing statements naming and shaming the perpetrators? How many children need to be killed for the figure to justify mourning? Why is the death toll climbing so rapidly? I hope these animals pay for robbing us of our future.

Bargaining: Please God, please stop this cruelty. Please let this be a very bad nightmare. Please let me wake up and everything be normal. Please let my cousin not have gone to school today. Please let this event be a turning point in the history of Pakistan. Please let us wake up tomorrow on the same page about who the enemy is. Please let us all confront this demon as one.

Depression: As evening fell and news of the total number of fatalities in this massacre emerged, a deep unsettling depression took over. This should not have happened. No parent should have to face the torture of burying their own children. No parent should have to think twice about the safety of their children while sending them to school. Reports surfaced of the methodical way in which the children were asked their fathers’ profession and then shot if they answered “Army”. I heard about the brutal way in which a teacher was set on fire in front of her students. I learnt of how one boy helped thirty of his classmates to safety and then was martyred. My heart broke when I heard a father state,

“They say we don’t educate our children, but even when I sent him to school, he returned in a coffin. Where’s the fairness in that?”

Acceptance: There is none. The mind cannot fathom how anyone could commit such a heinous act.

There are a myriad of feelings that are being felt right now. One cannot even console the parents that have lost their children because… what do you say?

“I’m sorry for your loss. I understand what you are going through.”

No. Because that would be a lie. To lose a child is devastating. To carry a child in your womb for nine months, painstakingly bring them up till they are teenagers, only to lose them within seconds to an act of hatred, is criminal. No parent should have to go through that.

43 years ago, on this very day, we lost a part of our country. The wounds are still raw for many. Let us hope that December 16, 2014, serves as a turning point in our nation’s discourse. A day upon which we look back and tell our children and grandchildren:

“December 16, 2014 was the day we decided we could not and would not sacrifice any more of our children. The day we stood together in unity against the enemy. The day when we decided we needed to combat the mind-set that propagates such barbaric acts. The day all divisions of faith and ethnicity blurred together to produce Pakistanis. On this day, we proved to the bereaved parents that their children were not martyred in vain.”

Let us please not let the death of our children go in vain.

Sarah Khan

Sarah Khan

The writer studied Government and Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and now works as a consultant in London. She occasionally blogs at myoffshoreaccounts.blogspot.co.uk

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • NH

    I’m really touched by your article. Excellent Read!

    I wanted to ask for your permission if I can use your article for a speech in the local community.

    Thank youRecommend

  • ab1990

    Pakistanis were also going through “blaming others model”

    It was laughable to see pakistanis blaming india for this attack.Recommend

  • Queen

    I still don’t have words to express what me and my family went through after seeing the massacre of innocent children in a school……..Recommend

  • Fawad Gilani

    India finances the taliban. Hence it is responsible. Dont believe me. Just ask you friendly neighborhood Raw AgentRecommend

  • Parvez

    At a time like this a nation needs a leader to stand tall and strong………we unfortunately have been orphaned and left to fend for ourselves.Recommend

  • Uzmaa

    very well written !!
    no one will ever understand the pain of loosing a child, i hope we vanish taliban from its roots.Recommend

  • Sarah Khan

    Thanks for your kind words, NH.

    I have absolutely no issues with you referencing my piece for your speech.

    -SarahRecommend

  • L.

    What’s actually laughable is the amount of Indians trying to win back their spotlight, let TTP have a go. Recommend

  • ab1990

    hahah…..your country did not even catch a single hindu or indian agent in any terrorist attack. How can u even blame RAW without showing evidence?Recommend

  • Queen

    Even though you love to ‘hate’ Pakistan, and therefore you will not believe any evidence regarding India’s involvement but the fact remains that India IS supporting Taliban in Afghanistan and IS also interfering in Balochistan. India has several consulates established near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and everyone is aware of the activities which take place in those consulates. Few months back, Indian NSA had traveled to Afghanistan where he reportedly met the commander of the Taliban groups which has claimed responsibility of the Peshawar attack. http://www.dailymailnews.com/2014/11/06/special_report/DMSpecialReport.php

    Instead of seeking sadistic pleasure from the suffering of people in Peshawar, it will be better of you remember the victims of 26/11 and the teachings of Gandhi. Recommend

  • Prashant

    The roots are in Quetta Sir.

    I feel sorry for those families who have lost their dear ones.Recommend

  • siesmann

    As long as Lal Masjids and similar madrassas remain, the beast of terrorism will remain alive.These factories of terrorists need to be dismantled,the text-books amended,and mullahs held responsible for their hatred-mongering.Recommend

  • Hypocrisy?

    The TTP leadership is hiding in Afghanistan. Stop bashing Pakistanis who are grieving. We haven’t elected an inciter of mass murder as our PM.Recommend

  • Agrippa – The Skeptic

    The Daily Mail News (what a name) is a little fly-by-night operation!
    India has in all four consulates in Afghanistan, of which two are in the south i.e. near the border of Pakistan. Everyone is aware of the activities that take place but unfortunately nobody, not even the famous ISI can present an iota of proof.Recommend

  • Prashant

    There is nothing wrong in it if you want to live in denials at your own peril but stop deceiving others.

    Who does the TTP call its ” Amirul Momineen” and who played the most important role to elect Fazlullah as the chief of TTP, was it not Mullah Omar and if yes, why don’t you fight him rather you are protecting him. The reason is simple, the ideology is not the issue but the target is, as long as the Taliban does not target the Pakistanis, they would continue to get the support from Pakistan.

    I have not seen another country who loves its own enemies out of its hatred for others.

    “We haven’t elected an inciter of mass murder as our PM.”

    Really, is the Hindu/Sikh blood any less than Muslim blood? Who gave the call for direct action and how come you are proud to have him as your Quaid but expect Indians to be ashamed of Modi?

    You will stop taking the moral high ground if you start reading your history, “hamid ur rehman commission report” would be a good start .Recommend

  • Prashant

    “Even though you love to ‘hate’ Pakistan, and therefore you will not believe any evidence regarding India’s involvement…”

    But why does the evidence come from yourself and not from your Govt and what is your evidence, is it a link from a right wing Pakistani news paper or hearsay?

    “Few months back, Indian NSA had traveled to Afghanistan where he reportedly met the commander of the Taliban groups which has claimed responsibility of the Peshawar attack.”

    You obviously are one of those who believes ISI is involved in charity work across the borders and hence its neighbours need to respond in kind, the ISI operations against India in Kashmir have not yet stopped and neither in Afghanistan.

    “…..it will be better of you remember the victims of 26/11 and the teachings of Gandhi.”

    When it suits, speak of Gandhi and when it does not, mock him.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Wish I could say something witty and clever to neutralise this pain. The only thing I can think of is that the children are now safe and no ( greater) pain can reach them.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    WHO mocks Gandhi on ET may I know? I think u have been mistaken is for Indians who can’t breathe without saying a word against our Qaid. Recommend

  • Prashant

    “WHO mocks Gandhi on ET may I know?”

    No one does in the entire world, except a few right wing Hindu fundamentalists and a few Pakistanis.

    I can provide you the links if you wish.

    “I think u have been mistaken is for Indians who can’t breathe without saying a word against our Qaid.”

    I have asked only one question to Pakistanis regarding your Quaid, why did he give the call for direct action which resulted in massive number of killings. I have also called him one of the great statesmen of undivided India, it is your call how you look at my comments.Recommend

  • xyz

    Rss admirers have no value for Mahatma Gandhi..let alone his teachings.Recommend

  • xyz

    She (Queen) didn’t mock him,right ? I love Bapu too.
    You may think,that the factual content of you comment is right (wether about Isi,Mr.Jinnah,Direct action day etc.) ,but it’s in very bad taste,here.
    Defend India on other blogs.
    Show some respect for the slain.
    Recommend

  • xyz

    As an Indian,I’m embarrassed to read your inhumane comment & the blog you selected, to plant it on.
    The author hasn’t mentioned India or assigned blame.
    Can’t you go troll elsewhere ? Recommend

  • Queen

    Thank you for your considerate comments.Recommend

  • Queen

    Kindly tell me Mr Prashant, how in your opinion, have I ‘mocked’ Gandhi ji?Recommend

  • Hypocrisy?

    “Quaid, why did he give the call for direct action which resulted in massive number of killings.”
    Direct action day was observed all over India and only in Calcutta,Bengal did tensions flare up , not in the other Muslim regions. The Congress was refusing to agree to an independent Pak despite the fact that the ML had sweeped the Muslim vote. We had full right to organize protests!

    It was a call of peaceful protest, you do know that even Gandhi’s peaceful protests sometimes broke into violence against his wishes? Is he responsible for the bloodshed despite doing his best to prevent it?

    You Indians are obsessed with DA day even more than partition because it makes Jinnah look bad. Have you forgotten that Muslims were killed in the riots too, these Hindu rioters included supporters of the Mahasaba and Congress. Why not hold them accountable too? Why only the ML?

    Hypocrisy at its finest!
    You probably think that partition violence only targeted Hindus and Sikhs.Recommend

  • Hypocrisy?

    Read my comment above. Did Modi call for peaceful protests to protest against the train burnings? Your false equivalence of Jinnah and Modi is laughable.Recommend

  • Hypocrisy?

    Talk about obsession, you miss no opportunity to bash Pak from Jinnah to Direct action to Bangladesh to Taliban. I could easily counter with your army’s atrocities in Kashmir or misadventures in Sri Lanka but this is not the place for it. Recommend

  • Prashant

    Jinnah, Partition, Direct action are facts and so are Sri Lanka and Kashmir, I am not the one living in denials.Recommend

  • Prashant

    “Direct action day was observed all over India and only in Calcutta,Bengal did tensions flare up , not in the other Muslim regions. ”

    Who was Suhrawardy? Did he not belong to the Muslim league, why did he announce a holiday in Bengal on 16 Aug 1946 for both Hindus and Muslims when the demand of a separate Pakistan was only for Muslims? Why did he address a muslim gathering which was close to 1 lakh and told them that they will get a free hand on this day? Read some history and you would know how Jinnah’s blue eyed boy from Bengal was personally supervising the rights from the police control room. This is the man whom you call a Shahid.

    1947 happened much later, just read what happened at Noakhali, how Hindus in their own land were converted by force, killed for protesting and their women raped in hundreds if not thousands.Recommend

  • Prashant

    You just need to google it and you would know which country does the mockery come from?Recommend