Terrorists are not true Muslims, says APS survivor

Ahmad Nawaz is a survivor of the Army Public School, Peshawar attack of December 16, 2014, in which 144 students lost their lives at the hands of terrorists who stormed the school. Ahmad who lost his younger brother Harris Nawaz in the incident was himself injured grievously. After initial treatment in Pakistan, he went to the UK where he was treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

On discharge from the hospital in September 2015, he thought of doing something to benefit the next generation of kids, so he initiated an Education Campaign in the UK.

Mr Muhammad Nawaz, the father of Ahmad Nawaz, speaking to The Nation said, “We were living a very content life in Peshawar. My sons were like my arms (a cultural way of expressing the support sons provide to the family), one was martyred and the other became disabled. I can’t forget that in the last moments of his life my son (who died) would have been scared when the terrorists asked the children to line up. I wonder what was going through his mind. They had shot Harris on the head and when we received his body his face was not recognizable.”

After burying Harrison on 17th December the father Muhammad Nawaz took an oath. “After I buried my son Harris Nawaz I vowed I won’t remain silent now. I will speak up against this menace. I asked for the resignation of the then Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif and others who (in his view) were responsible for the protection of my children. The politicians had made so many promises especially Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf’s Chairman Imran Khan had said that he would personally fight our case but these kids were not important enough as his election issue. However I was asked to remain quiet by some of the agencies; even the Taliban called to warn me that if I don’t stop raising my voice I will lose Ahmad also; but I did not back out. I now make only one request to the government of Pakistan and the Army, a judicial commission should be established under the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice and according to the findings everyone should be punished so no one ever has to lose their children like this ever again.”

The father then told the Nation about a British lady who stepped forward to help them and bore all the expenditures of Ahmad’s treatment, after they moved to UK where Ahmed was treated and after that enrolled in school for his education.

As a survivor of terrorism Ahmad, who after losing his brother and many friends wanted to teach children about peace and love. He started a campaign for Education and Peace and went to different schools in the UK to share his story.

This helped him create awareness in schools in the UK from where a number of students have gone to Syria, Libya and Iraq to join terrorist groups. In his message he tells the students that “I am a victim of those terrorist groups, they are not true Muslims.” Due to his efforts many students were inspired by his story and the way he stood up against radicalization. This campaign has not only helped people understand Islam, inspired children and promoted Pakistan’s positive image.

About the National Action Plan, Ahmed said “There were about 20 actionable points in it but only 6 have been implemented. (He feels that) A similar sum of money should be spent on education as is spent on procuring guns and weapons; there is a dire need for quality education in areas where counter terrorist operations are taking place. Basically operation is not the solution to these problems only education can resolve these issues.”

Ahmad’s father recalled an incident where a British journalist asked Ahmad what he would do if the terrorists ever came in front of him again. To which Ahmad responded, “First I’ll box them and then I’ll tell them that I will forgive you only on one condition and that is that you provide education to your children. To eliminate terrorism they should be provided with education.”

Due to his campaign in UK Ahmad was called to attended official events in the House of Lords, House of Common and other places where he put his message across. Ahmad has also met with British Prime Minister Teresa May, Speaker House of Lords Mrs D Souza and other Ministers. His consistent efforts led to his being made an Honorary Ambassador of the Global organizations ‘World Merit’ (United Nations), the Oxford Foundation, and Anne Frank Trust.

Umaima Ahmed is a member  of staff

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