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"Children show our smile is stronger than your guns"
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"Children show our smile is stronger than your guns"

Summaya Afaq

The survivors of a horrific school attack have returned to their classrooms in an inspiring display of courage and commitment, writes Summaya Afaq, 23, a Correspondent from Karachi, Pakistan.

It has been a month since the deadly attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School wreaked havoc on the nerves of the Pakistani nation. Yet it seems the incident has left irremovable wounds on the souls of Pakistan’s people.

We witnessed the outpouring of condolences from the international community, expressing its grief over the horrific attack. It is quite unbelievable to imagine how a handful of extremists can even think of destroying the dreams of children by killing them ruthlessly – and then justifying the attack.

Nevertheless, the bravest children of Army Public school have shown the world that their will and conviction can never be shattered! I was flabbergasted to see their will to stand tall in the face of this adverse situation when they refused to succumb to fear and go back to the same place that they once had to witness the terror of bomb explosions and barbaric killing of their friends.

Those tender minds – who saw their teachers being burnt in front of them – could have made an attempt to put forth the fair excuse not to go back to the same school. But I believe Pakistani soil has indeed given birth to dauntless sons and daughters who can endure the most horrifying of incidents. It was heart-touching to see the shine in the eyes of the young, innocent and stouthearted children of APS get back to their school with a new resolve. They believe that the best way to ‘retaliate’ for the cowardly attack is to fight with the strongest weapon: education.

Yes, the kids gathered for an assembly on the same ground where their friends were shot for being sons of those brave soldiers who are fighting to eradicate the menace of terrorism and extremism. I was so moved to see the valour of kids who attended their school despite being injured. They were not at all afraid, but resilient in the face of adversity that has struck this nation. They have vowed that they would not let anyone cast a dirty spell, as they are ready to take on the onus of continuing the legacy of their slain friends through perseverance and courage. It is, indeed, not easy to sit in the same classrooms where once the inhuman terrorists played the deadliest game of intimidation and whose walls are stained with human flesh and blood.

Mohandas Gandhi once said “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children.”

The children are the greatest asset of any nation. The Peshawar tragedy has taught us lessons! It has taught has the lesson of how courage can defeat fear. It has taught us the lesson of how strong-willed children can lead a nation that is in a state of war with a coward enemy. It has taught us the lesson that only education can help combat the menace of extremism and build a nation that is exemplary in its resolve to eradicate enemies of peace. The return of fearless students of Army Public School in Peshawar on 12th January, 2015 was indeed a special event that managed to occupy a place in the news bulletins of CNN and BBC.

It was all courtesy of the untapped courage of the kids of a nation the enemy fears. So the kids of Pakistan, all set to be welcomed back to their schools, decided to sing in chorus and proudly tell the world “Mein aesi qoum sai hun jis kay wo bachon se darta hy …. Bara dushman bana phirta hai jo bachon sy darta hy”
– “I am from a nation whose children frighten him ….. Some enemy he is, he who targets children”.

photo credit: Jordi Bernabeu via photopin cc

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About me:

I hail from Pakistan, Karachi, and am studying at Karachi University Business School. I have also worked as a free-lance writer for a local company, Brainees.

The global challenges related to quality education, poverty, illiteracy, extremism and exploitation of resources is a concern for me.  I want to mobilize mentors to enlighten the youth of Pakistan about the value of critical thinking. The future of Pakistani children can be changed through empathy and volunteerism in underprivileged areas.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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