On the fifth anniversary of the heart-rending APS tragedy today, only two top tier newspapers gave it editorial space.
Since editorials highlight the most important event or issue of the day, this finding leads to questions like if the tragedy has already started to blur out from our collective memory.
Team Media Gardi scanned 12 top tier English and Urdu national dailies; Dawn, The News, Express Tribune, Daily Times, The Nation, Daily Jang, Daily Nawaiwaqt, Daily Express, Daily Dunya, Daily 92 News, Daily Ummat and Daily Islam today.
Only The News and Daily Dunya wrote editorials about the APS massacre.
Daily Nawaiwaqt also picked up the issue but only as an evidence of the continuation of India’ anti-Pakistan conspiracies following the fall of Dhaka (anniversary also today).
The News wrote in its editorial, Tackling terror that there is nothing that can fill the void in the lives of the families of those killed by the militant plague.
The News said the words of condolence from the authorities today must also be accompanied by action. The editorial acknowledged the action taken by authorities against militancy but said our track record in implementing the National Action Plan has been mixed.
“The promises made to the families of those who lost their children on December 16 five years ago, and the promises made to the hundreds of thousands who have been devastated by violence in the last two decades, must be kept,” it added.
Daily Dunya, a prominent Urdu daily wrote in its editorial, Remembering a tragedy that the painful memories of the tragedy still haunt the nation.
The newspaper lauded the security forces’ action against terrorism that followed APS. It said APS acted as the deciding factor in Pakistan’s war against terrorism.
It says although Pakistan was already fighting against terrorism since 2008 but APS helped our security agencies coordinate and plan a decisive action against the terror networks to disrupt their operations. The newspaper hailed the security forces and credited them for the relative peace that prevails. It said, “The security forces are capable of defeating any enemy if there is will to act”.
Top Urdu daily, Jang published an opinion piece by journalist Rifatullah Orakzai who shared his memories of horror from the day.
“I was the first journalist to come to know about the incident”, recounted Rifat in Daily Jang, “I was informed by none other than Mullah Umar Mansoor, the then head of TTP Peshawar & Dara Adamkhel, from Afghanistan that some of his fighters had entered a school in Peshawar”. As per Rifat, the commander asked him to wait for his call and hanged up.
“An hour later, Umar Mansoor called again and informed that it was APS Peshawar that was under attack,” wrote Rifatullah Orakzai, “Up till then, Pakistani media was completely unaware of what was going on in Peshawar,” he says.
The writer says Umar Mansoor also made him talk to a suicide bomber from inside the school. He says he tried to reason with the suicide bomber. ‘Why are you attacking a school where there are only innocent children?” He remembers saying to the terrorist. “It is also ‘their’ headquarter!” came the chilling reply.
What followed is the bloodiest chapter of Pakistan’s history and is widely considered as our own ‘9/11’. The APS tragedy had generated a nationwide consensus for decisive action against terrorism, leading to formulation of the National Action Plan (NAP).
Five years after the massacre, the government and authorities have taken a significant measures to tackle violent extremism in the country. However, it is widely felt that much is needed to be done. Also media says, families of the victims still await the outcome of the probe into the incident to know what really led to the loss of their loved ones.