December 16, 2014, will be forever remembered as a black day in the history of Pakistan. It was on that day that a group of terrorists martyred 144 people, including 122 students, while injuring several others. It was a brazen and dastardly attack which not only moved the whole nation but also brought the government, armed forces and the general public on the same page against the war on terror.
This year, to commemorate the first anniversary of the heart-wrenching incident, NUST held a memorial service organized by a joint effort of all NUST clubs and societies at Jinnah auditorium, Centre of International Peace & Stability (CIPS), NUST Main Campus, Islamabad.
The chill but sunny weather of this year’s December 16 reflected the heavy hearts but hopeful outlook of the attendees, all filled with a desire to give a safer world to the future generations.
At 3 in the afternoon, students and staff from various departments all over NUST gathered at Jinnah Auditorium to pay tribute to the martyrs. The Rector, Pro Rectors and principals of different schools were also present.
The event began with a heartfelt speech by All-Pak declamation contest winner and student of NUST School of Environmental Engineering (SCEE), Makhdoom Shahab, who gave the audience a strong message of courage and hope. Next, Army Public School (APS) Attack survivor and current student of NUST Institute of Civil Engineering (NICE), Hamza, came on stage and spoke on his memories of the terrible incident, at which point, the whole auditorium rose in respect for the young boy’s courage. He went on to speak on behalf of all his fellow APS students by stating that he would take revenge against the terrorists by continuing to seek education. He expressed how their spirits were high even when the terrorists made every single effort to bring their determination to the ground.
A short video of an interview conducted by NUSTian Arooba Khan, with the father of two martyrs, was screened next. “My both sons received martyrdom facing the terrorists, my sons were not cowards unlike those terrorists,” were words from the grieving but proud father that stood out.
Towards the end, Rector NUST Engr. Muhammad Asghar spoke to the gathering about the concept of war in religion and the historical precedents from which we could all learn. He spoke highly of the APS attack victims and their families who had braved the incident with fortitude leaving a message for the oppressors that their courage and determination to rise as a nation would never falter come what may. He also praised the untiring efforts of the armed forces to drive the curse of terrorism out of the country. He spoke about the importance of understanding the true values of Islam to make Pakistan safe and great amidst all odds. He concluded by emphasizing that Islam stood for love for humanity, a concept that is also at the heart of Iqbal’s poetry.
As the service drew to a close, the Rector led the audience, holding charts and placards, for a solidarity walk on Scholar’s Avenue.
The day of commemoration culminated with a candlelight vigil and prayers for the lost souls, as well as for the strength and protection of the whole nation. To put it in a nutshell, “Sometimes our greatest pains become our greatest strengths.”