As a student in grade 9, I pledge my future to Pakistan – do you?

Published: January 16, 2015

Schoolchildren inside a decorated van as they head to their school after it reopened in Peshawar. PHOTO: REUTERS

Students leaving school after first day of APS reopening. PHOTO: AFP Girls carry their school bags as they walk along a road while heading to their school after it reopened in Peshawar. PHOTO: REUTERS Schoolchildren inside a decorated van as they head to their school after it reopened in Peshawar. PHOTO: REUTERS

On December 16th, around 10am, a group of heavily armed men belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stormed the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar. These men opened fire and took several students hostage in the main auditorium of the school. The number of casualties is officially reported to be over 140 and more than 180 injured.

TTP has claimed this attack to be in retaliation to Pakistan’s military offensive known as Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which started in June, 2014, in North Waziristan. This school was attacked in an attempt to kill the future military potential of Pakistan, in the hopes of establishing superiority.

To sum it up, we are living in a world where this sort of a mind-set exists – a world where grown-up men take revenge on other grown-up men by murdering children.

When you turned on your TV, this tragedy was plastered everywhere, and still is. When you open Facebook or check Whatsapp, this is the subject of all discussions. When you wake up every morning, the newspaper on your breakfast table bears stories pertaining to this on the front page. You mourn the loss, remember the families in your prayers and maybe even go as far as updating your status about the inhumanity of it all. And as time passes, you come to the sad conclusion that there is really nothing you can do to make up for the lives lost.

But think again.

I now speak directly to the generation who is still growing up; the generation whose brothers were killed in Peshawar; the generation who sees their cities burn on TV without even understanding why it’s happening – I speak to my generation.

It is true that we cannot oppose this sort of evil directly; it is not in our power to launch an armed struggle against it or to shield our people from it. Not yet. But what we can do is train ourselves for a struggle against this evil, and the only way to do this is by educating ourselves, inside and outside of this country, and then put this education to good use in our country.

I’m sure many of us have thought of leaving the country for the purpose of attaining higher education and then never returning, settling down in a foreign land, and peacefully dying there. But I urge you to think twice. Maybe this wake up call to the future generation has been voiced one too many times but I voice it out again – your country needs you.

It does not need your sympathy or your tears, it needs you. So whatever you decide to pursue, be it medicine, law, humanities, business, science, art or anything in between, use it as means to counter the inhumanity prevailing in our world – the inhumanity we all saw on December 16, 2014.

Change is never brought about overnight, and while efforts against fighting evil are being made by the generation currently in power, they will never bear fruit if we don’t stand up and continue their mission. So, mourn the lives lost and pray for their families but don’t let that stop you from going to school and doing what you need to do, because that in itself is the greatest disrespect you can give to the martyrs of Peshawar.

On this day, I pledge my future to Pakistan.

And I hope you do too.

Dalia Sattar

Dalia Sattar

A grade 9 student of Karachi Grammar School. She is an avid reader and writer.

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