PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD - To pay homage to the martyred of the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, the nation is observing the first anniversary of the tragic incident today with unflinching resolve to defy terrorism and curb extremism.

It was on this day (December 16) last year when a group of TTP terrorists stormed the school and went on an unprecedented show of brutality by mercilessly killing 144 innocent children and school staff.

This absolute cruelty shocked the whole nation but it also opened the eyes which were had remained shut until then despite long years of violence and terrorism. The event unveiled the real face of the terrorists and united the people against this menace.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif will attend the main function being held at the APS in remembrance of the victims.

Chief ministers and governors of all the provinces are also expected to attend the ceremonial as a gesture of national solidarity. Besides other dignitaries, families of martyred and injured students as well as school staff will also participate in the event.

To express solidarity with the bereaved families, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has announced a public holiday on the occasion in Peshawar, the capital of the province.

At the APS function, tribute will be presented to those who lost their lives or got hurt in the attack. Medals and certificates will be awarded to the parents of the martyrs and the survivors, while ‘Martyrs Monument’ built at the APS will also be inaugurated on the occasion.

Quran Khwanis, condolence references and other events will be held at all educational institutions across the country. Different political and social groups arranged hold peace walks, special prayers and seminars.

In this connection, a function would be held at the Archives Library where PTI Chairman Imran Khan would lay the foundation stone of the monument for the APS martyrs. The Archives Library itself would be renamed as Shuhada-e-Army Public School Library.

Strict security arrangements have been made in Peshawar on this occasion.

Speaking at a news conference Adviser to CM Mushtaq Ghani said KP never left alone the victim families and surviving students. At least 122 schools in province were named after the martyrs and 142 members of martyrs’ families were sent on Umra. Moreover, many families have also been sent abroad so they could forget the incident.

Zarb-e-Azb to go on: COAS

Gen Raheel Sharif yesterday said APS Peshawar victims rendered great sacrifices for the country which will be remembered forever. Addressing Corps Commanders Conference in Rawalpindi, he said Zarb-e-Azb operation will continue till all of its objectives are achieved.

The army chief said that security forces will continue to consolidate their gains to make them sustainable, which, he said, will be the best way to pay homage to all those killed and wounded in the APS attack.

The commanders expressed solidarity with the families of the APS victims and expressed satisfaction over the progress achieved in Zarb-e-Azb. The reviewed the security situation, focusing on the most effective manner of implementing the National Action Plan.

On the weekend, ISPR DG Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa in his tweets gave highlights of achievements made in Zarb-e-Azb. “About 3,400 terrorists have been killed, 837 hideouts, from where they operated, have been destroyed,” he said.

About intelligence based operations in the whole country, he said that 13,200 IBOs have been conducted in which 183 hardcore terrorists were neutralised and 21,193 arrested. About 488 officers and men of the Pakistan Army, FC and Sindh Rangers have sacrificed their lives and 1,914 were injured in anti-terrorist operations.