Vigils in US Remember Victims of Peshawar Attack
By Anwar Iqbal | Masood Haider
Washington, dc/New York: “Never again, not in our name,” was the message thousands of Pakistanis and their supporters in the US and Canada sent on Friday night to the terrorists who killed at least 132 children and nine staff members at Peshawar’s Army Public School on December 16.
In the US capital, and in more than a dozen other cities in the United States and Canada, people braved freezing cold and chilly winds to attend the vigils, held exactly one month after the massacre.
Two slogans — “Pakistan Zindabad” and “Taliban Murdabad” — were chanted again and again as participants urged authorities to catch those responsible for the attack.
“Dec 16, 2014 is Pakistan’s 9/11. We can never forget what happened in Peshawar,” said acting ambassador Asad Majeed Khan, who visited the site of the vigil in Washington to express solidarity with those in mourning.
“The attack has united the nation against the terrorists,” he said.
Mr Khan noted that the unity displayed at similar gatherings in Pakistan could also be seen here. “People from all walks of life and all ethnic and regional groups are here as are the followers of all religions,” he said.
People gathered around a fountain, listening to speakers and poets who reminded the Pakistani nation to continue their struggle until the extremists were defeated.
Raza Rumi, one of the speakers, stressed the need for fighting the mindset that allowed groups like the Taliban to operate freely in the country. “We need to take our country back from the extremists,” he said.
“We also need to build on this to raise our voice against any form of discrimination or extremism,” said Anis Dani, one of the participants. “No more silence or fear.”
“We need to carry on this initiative and build the momentum that the Peshawar massacre has created,” said Madiha Waris Qureshi, another participant.
Some attendees brought posters and wore headbands that demanded action against the Taliban.
Posters were also pasted along the fountain wall, with small Pakistani flags and candles next to them.
The attendees were encouraged to tweet their comments. Organizers also asked people to sign a petition, demanding action against all terrorist groups, which was distributed at the vigil.
The petition is also available online.
In New York, a vigil was held near the Pakistani Consulate.
The participants held candles and placards as they braved frigid temperatures.
The placards were inscribed with slogans like “Never forget Peshawar” and “Reclaim your mosques”. - Courtesy Dawn