Never forget: Govt renames 107 schools after slain APS students

The Express Tribune Pakistan, March 4, 2015

By Asad Zia

PESHAWAR: The provincial government has renamed 107 existing government schools across the province after students slain in the gruesome terrorist attack on Army Public School (APS) last year.

According to a handout issued on Thursday from the information department, the government has renamed two schools each in Abbottabad, Hangu, Lakki Marwat and Swabi; 10 in Charsadda; five in Malakand and Nowshera each; four each in Kohat and Mardan; three in Karak and one each in Chitral, Lower Dir, Haripur, Mansehra and Tank. The remaining 63 schools renamed are in Peshawar.

As per the statement, Government High School (GHS) Charsadda has been renamed Government Shaheed Hayatullah High School No1 Rajjar; GHS Barenis Chitral has been renamed Government Shaheed Yasirullah High School; GHS Ibrahimzai, Hangu has been renamed Government Shaheed Baqir Ali High School; GHS Usterzai Kohat will be known as Government Shaheed Rafiq Raza Bangash High School, while Government Middle School (GMS) Swati Gate, Peshawar will be known as Government Shaheed Hamza Ali Kakar Middle School.

Similarly, GHS No2 Gulbahar, Peshawar has been renamed Government Shaheed Ahmad Mujtaba High School, GMS Wazir Bagh Peshawar has been renamed Government Shaheed Hamayun Middle School Wazir Bagh and Government Higher Secondary School Sarai Naurang Lakki Marwat has been renamed Government Shaheed Bahram Ahmad Khan School.

A welcome move

Parents of the slain children have appreciated the government’s decision, terming it a “great honour” for them.

While speaking to The Express Tribune, Tufail Khattak, father of fallen APS student Sher Shah, lauded the government for etching their children’s names in history. “With schools named after them, the martyred children will be remembered forever,” he said. “The coming generations will know of the sacrifices our children made for the country.”

Khattak added he was pleased with the government’s decision and was grateful to it for honouring the students and their parents.

Ajun Khan, father of Asfand Khan, also expressed similar sentiments. However, he questioned why the government had renamed only 107 schools when over 140 students died that day.

He demanded the remaining names be added to the government’s list. Khan also urged the government to refrain from dragging its feet on the matter.

According to Khan, a meeting of the Shuhada Forum was held in Peshawar in which they have rejected the federal government’s decision to award posthumous Tamgha-e-Shujaat and Sitara-e-Shujaat–the highest civilian awards–to the victims. The forum has instead demanded Nishan-e-Haider, the highest military award for gallantry, for the slain students.

As many as 151 people, most of them schoolchildren, died in the worst terrorist attack in the country on December 16 when terrorists armed to the teeth laid siege to the military-run school for several hours and killed students and teachers indiscriminately. The attack was later claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

In the aftermath of the bloodbath, a national consensus was forged among all political parties to root out terrorism and extremism from the country. The prime minister lifted a moratorium on the death penalty, the National Action Plan was devised and military courts were formed to try terrorists.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2015.