Photo: A Majeed/AFP
150 people were killed in the Taliban's attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December last year
The Pakistan Army has released a video on the first anniversary of the attack
The video contains a song that says "I want to educate the enemy's children"
It is in the voice of a child
What is the main message of the video?
What is the Pakistan Army trying to achieve?
In both India and Pakistan, 16 December is marked as a black day in the collective memory of the people. It was on this day in 2012 that India witnessed one of its most gruesome rapes, one that stirred the conscience of society.
Last year, the same day left an indelible scar on the people of Pakistan. Seven terrorists of Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) walked into the corridors of Army Public School at Peshawar and massacred 150 people, 134 of them being children.
Extremist violence has been a fact of life in Pakistan for quite some time. However, the sight of wailing mothers and innocent children covered in shrouds shook the nation to its core.
The deadliest terror attack in Pakistan's history brought to the fore the most humane face of the country's civil society. Even the Pakistani establishment vowed to take on the scourge of terrorism with renewed vigor, as it looked back with regret at its dual policy of differentiating between extremists.
Whether the attack actually brought about a paradigm shift in Pakistan's approach towards terrorism is another matter. But there is no doubt that there is an emotional surge sweeping across the country on the first anniversary of the attack.
Even the battle hardened Pakistan Army has chosen the tender notes of music to pay tribute to the departed souls. The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan Army, has released a heart-rending song on this occasion.
The song is titled 'Mujhe Maa Us Se Badla Lene Jana He...Mujhe Dushman Ke Bachon Ko Padhana Hai (Mother, I have to go and take revenge...I have to educate the children of the enemy).' It seeks to convey that the true retribution to this ghastly act could only be through spreading education and not wielding guns. The moving voice of a young child has lent melody to the lyrics of this song.
A similar song was released days before the Army Public School resumed classes after the attack. The emotion packed lyrics of the song said, "Main Aisi Qaum Se Hoon Jis Kay Woh Bachon Se Darta Hai...Bada Dushman Bana Phirta Hai Jo Bachon Se Ladta Hai (I am from a nation whose children frighten him...Some enemy he is, who targets children)". It was a message from a slain child to the perpetrators of this attack conveying the resilience of the country's children against extremism.
Pakistan has faced extremist violence for over a decade now. Some say the country's society has turned indifferent to the menace. However, the massacre of so many young schoolchildren seems to have broken the indifference.
The establishment had announced a slew of measures against terrorism after this incident. The Constitution was amended to give sanction to military courts for speedy trial of terrorists. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has also withheld the validity of these courts.
In addition, several legal reforms have been undertaken to regulate the functioning of madarsas in the country, which are widely considered as the breeding grounds for extremism.
The Peshawar attack also forced the Nawaz Sharif government to lift the 6-year old ban on capital punishment. Around 300 terrorists have been sent to the gallows in the last one year. The 4 people convicted for the Peshawar attack were hanged just 2 weeks ago.
The Pakistan Army has intensified its Zarb-e-Azb campaign against TTP terrorists entrenched in the tribal areas. They claimed to have killed over 3,400 terrorists in this operation so far.
The website of Pakistan's reputed English daily Dawn has added a special page to remember the lives that were lost in attack. The page titled '144 stories' carries a series of stories on the children who were killed by the terrorists' bullets.
Nawaz Sharif has announced that 122 schools and colleges will be named after the slain children. According to Sharif, "This step has been taken to keep the memory of these children alive so that the future generations are kept away from the shadow of terrorism."
We can only say "Ameen" to such intentions.