By Kiran Butt
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan and the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have to sit at a table and talk, which is essential for achieving peace, said a survivor of an attack by the armed group, also known as the Pakistani Taliban.
Muaz Irfan was just 15 years old when the TTP, a banned outfit, attacked his school, the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on Dec. 16, 2014.
Irfan was struck by eight bullets, with six hitting his left arm, one wounding his leg and the other his right arm.
The TTP took responsibility for the attack, one of the deadliest in Pakistan's history, in which 147 students were killed and hundreds were wounded.
Seven years later, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, in October 2021, confirmed in an interview with the Turkish news channel TRT that the government is holding talks with the TTP in Afghanistan.
"In some decisions, we have to think as a nation. It is very important for our country to make peace with this militant group so we can save thousands of innocent children like us from any kind of terrorist attack," said Irfan.
The TTP and Pakistani authorities agreed on a cease-fire in November, which unfortunately ended on Dec. 9. Just two days later, the TTP carried out two attacks that targeted police officers who were escorting anti-polio campaign volunteers and vaccination teams in the North Waziristan region.
"We have seen this brutality. I still remember how these terrorists were ruthlessly killing children. I lost my three friends in that attack, and they can still do such horrendous things if we do not make them sit down and talk. In negotiations, Pakistan has to agree to some of their conditions and vice versa," Irfan noted.
A security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, as he was not allowed to talk to the media, told Anadolu Agency that the masterminds of the attack were killed or sentenced to death.
"All 12 terrorists who were involved in this heinous crime have been apprehended. The main six terrorists were tried by the military courts and have been given death sentences," he said.
- Dealing with PTSD real challenge for survivors
Irfan is now pursuing his MSc in Engineering from the National University of Science and Technology, but he still gets panic attacks whenever he hears or sees any type of violence.
"Dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], I try to sit with my family whenever I get any flashbacks of that incident. After the attack, when I went back to school, I was able to sit in my class. But I could not step in that hall, as I could still see the bloodstains there," he said.
While speaking about the incident, Irfan became teary-eyed several times but continued the interview after several pauses.
Speaking on PTSD, Irfan said he could not go for professional help as he was afraid of medicines. But now, when he sees that the whole country has not moved on from the trauma, he hopes that time can heal everything.
"Parents, teachers, and the whole nation have gone through this trauma with us. I hope an agreement between the TTP and our government brings peace to our tribal areas, and we can feel safe in our country."