LAHORE - It is often said, “Small coffins are the heaviest to carry.” But it seems that December has become to most painful month of the year. Every year the memories of 2014 start haunting us.

144 children and staff died on 16 December 2014 but as a nation we lost our future.

Terrorists had ripped the hearts out of people.Pakistan Armed forces, Leadership and the citizens of the country became united against them. Two years down the lane while terrorism has decreased drastically yet we mourn the 2nd Anniversaryof APS Peshawar attack.

The Nation asked a number of people for their comments on how the incident changed them as a person and Pakistan.

Aakif Azeem an APS Survivor said, It changed me a lot, made me realize the worth of each and every moment that I live now. For Pakistan, this incident was a game changer as it paved a way that was clear than ever before. It gave Pakistan something to look at, a mirror to reflect!

It made us bear a burden that was never ours to bear at this age. But all of usnow are the game changers for Pakistan, for we know how to make Pakistan, better and safer for the rest!

Shahid Aziz who lost his brother Asad Aziz says “16th of every month reminds us of 16/12. To this day my mother is not well, she keeps missing Asad all the time. The government has also not fulfilled its promise.”

"I just want everyone not to forget those innocent souls. We can not even imagine what their families must be going through. If we want to see them happy we have to eliminate this violence from our society. We have to be the change, instead of giving suggestions for change atleast for all those 141+ families. They are here still with us as a message of courage and hope," Majid Maqsood a survivor of APS.

"Two years on and we continue to mourn one of the saddest incidents in the history of Pakistan.We hold deep in our hearts all those who lost their precious lives, the parents who had to bury their children and all those whose lives will never ever be the same again. They hit at the heart of the nation; the wound is too deep to heal, but as we continue to fight back we also remind the State that it needs to fulfill its responsibility to safeguard the life and property of every single Pakistani" said Michelle Chaudhry President of The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation.

“It something that I cannot define in words. Everytime I talk about it, it shatters me. It changed our national and personal views regarding war on terror. It has affected me deeply and whatever we do for them would always be less.” Ghalib Khalil (CEO and Cofounder of Azaad Pakistan)

Sabiha Shaheen works at Bargad organization said, "We can never get over with the pain and sadness that this day brought into lives of all Pakistanies."

"Its been 2 years to that brutal day but we need to look around and think for a second and question yourself .Are we heading towards the right direction ? Are we doing our part as a responsible citizen of this country ? Are our streets safe for kids? Are minorities safe in our country? Are we addressing the real issue here? Unfortunately we havent learned our lesson minorities are still exploited, kids are still unsafe and we are just waiting for another peshawar incident to restart the mourning process," Haris Bin Saqib, a social activist.

"In India, Pakistan, many of the innocent people to have survived the Holocaust of Partition from both sides, are lucky to be alive and amongst us today because of the protection and care provided by the armies. Seven decades later, over 134 innocent schoolchildren are shot dead at the Army Public School in Peshawar. The first batch gunned down at school was in the middle of First Aid training.

You do the math. It is beyond terrorism. It is pure evil backed by the evil of Taliban. It is the greatest threat facing all of humanity today. This is a day to remind ourselves not to miss out any opportunity at educating a child, about the world, and about their rights. This is a day to remind ourselves that a beautiful army of small children while learning to save lives, was martyred by a bunch of grown up bearded midgets. Education is the only deterrent to evil, and the army of life savers will always rise, to crush evil," said Fakhra Hassan, story scholar at 1947 Partition Archive. 

"It's not enough to have tributes though they are important but the tragic deaths of these young lives prove that we must never waiver in our resolve to fight terrorism and extremism within our society because terrorists do not distinguish between a child or a soldier just as they don't distinguish between the battleground, school, or the market. This horrific incident shook our national conciousness and unified us in the fight against extremism and terrorism. But we must continue to pressurize our leaders to implement the national action plan for its true purpose, as to never allow the precious lives lost of these children and all those who have paid the ultimate price, to be in vain," said Meriam Sabih, a journalist. 

"The attack on APS had shaken me to the core. I could never imagine kids would have to suffer too. I've never cried so much over anything. But my first thoughts were, they should've known this when they shot Malala. There is one more thing I felt, since they were army kids, the army was able to take action. For civilians they can't because its not their jurisdiction. So it's like sure, kill all the civilians you want, nobody would ever bother. Now it's a day everyone grieves over but nothing has changed. People haven't changed. They still hate Malala and minorities and Taliban etc have gained more popularity," said Humeira Kazmi, a journalist.

Social Activist Suleman Qamar said, “These people are worse than barbarians who did not spare kids. Children are sent to school to study not fight battle. Despite of Zarb e Azb and decrease in terrorist activities they still exist. They need to be eliminated at all cost.

“The uncalled for, untimely, premature demise of so many young flowers of APS Peshawar jolted the nation. Still gives me shudders whenever the scenes of dead students flash before my eyes. It pains me to say that we, as a nation, have not learnt anything from these young martyrs who were in the training phase to hold the joystick of the nation's destiny. Since the APS tragedy, our nation has been further dumped into a deep quagmire of unaccountable and dishonest leaders. I wish and pray that the reigns of Pakistan get into the hands of a leader whose every day would start with a pledge to show to the APS martyrs as to how clean Pakistan is becoming day by day, both monetarily and environmentally. The sacrifices of APS martyrs should not go in vain. Major TalaatKhurshid (Retd), Rawalpindi

The APS martyrs are now with their creator, free from the pain of that terrible day. In the aftermath, a minority of Pakistanis pledged never to forget 16/12, the innocent lives lost, the perpetrators of the attack, and those who contributed support, resources and silence to the cause of terrorism. Revenge is not our answer; we choose to struggle for justice and unity till our society is free from the threat of bigotry and hate, and Pakistan is a beacon of light in this dark world. When our mission is complete, we will hold our head with pride knowing that a strong, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan rose up as a legacy of the sacrifices of that fateful day in Dec, 2016, said Gohar Aftab(Director of CFx Comics)

Dr. Fazle Yousaf and Engineer from Islamabad said, “APS martyrs wrote a new history by giving their lives while receiving knowledge through formal education that is one of the great virtues that most Muslim unfortunately lack. May Allah Subhanohoo Bless the martyrs with high rewards and a place in JannatulFirdous. Aameen

“The memory lives on.....too painful to revisit frankly and we keep ourselves busy in our trivial day to day affairs to forget the pain. But 16/12 is a sobering reminder that we won’t ever be able to fully come to terms with what happened. Personally I would like to use 16/12 as a day of motivation; to try and do something to help our nation. Any small act helps. Our college is arranging a blood donation drive on 16th December to mark the death anniversary of our APS martyrs. In their memory we strive to help our nation in whatever way we can, in our humble capacity to save some one’s life.” NidaTareen, Principal, School of International Law, Islamabad

16/12 was a heart wrenching incident in our history. Through Mohafizwhich we started right after 16/12, we vowed to make Pakistan safer through its life saving application that allows users to broadcast a life-threatening situation to people they choose as emergency contacts. National security is every person's responsibility. We need to play our role to ensure that our loved ones are safe and sound.People should be aware of technologies such as Mohafiz that helps save lives and provide immediate rescue services to people in need. AmmaraKazi of Mohafiz App.

“Our mosques, churches, markets and educational institutes have always been exposed to terrorism yet we have shown resilience and will always show our strength in future. With every act of terrorism, our spirit becomes stronger than ever before. This tragedy of APS has led us to believe that it's the time to stand with our beloved nation to eradicate the core evil from our society. Haris Bhatti Social Activist and a photographer.

Sidra Humayoun from War Against Rape said “After two years of APS attack a studentIrshadHussain passed away yesterday, and our woundswere freshened again. In two years he only heard two songs for his teachers and class fellows. Institutions need to realize that stop interfering in neighbor countries policies and built your nation.

“No doubt, the militants killed our innocent children, but they could not kill our spirit. At the same time it highlighted the grey areas andchallenges to our education system. Disappointing to see that nothing has changed in practice and our children are still not safe.” Qamar Naseem (Co-founder of Blue Veins)

“After the attack my tears didn't stop for several days until I came across a video in which the APS attack survivors were asked to smile. Those beautiful smiles from hospital beds gave me hope, my tears didn't really stop but this time they were of happiness and resolve. APS survivors motivate me to be resolute and spent every pint of my sweat and blood for the betterment of this country" Aamna Hassan Fasih Hair to Help NGO.

“For me the APS incident was very, very persona” says Umar Ali a Journalist, “It changed me in many ways –my thinking, my worldview, all changed. APS Peshawar should have been the moment to forgot our ideological differences and focuson the menace of extremism. But unfortunately, it did not happen. Instead, the state presented the slain kids as some sort of brave heroes. Failure of the state to protect the kids was covered by painting a picture of valiance and patriotism

A retired army colonel, NajamulHadi said, “APS incientwas a great loss for the country but it was a turning point in the survival ofPakistan when PakistaniForces launched themselves to cleanse the country from terrorists.Allah bless the innocent souls the brave teachers and staff, specially the Shaheed Principal MrsTahiraazi who manifested great qualities of a typical Pathan Muslim Madar e Watan.”

“I vividly remember when I first heard the news. My heart sank and i didn't know how to react. I don't know why people kill each other and that too innocent children? What wrong have they done to anyone? Leaving aside religion, creed and everything which kind of humanity teaches us to butcher. I don't find a single word for this act. May Almighty grant them highest place in jannah,” said Colonel Safdar Tiwana (Retired)

“APS attack proved to be a" turnaround" factor for socio political dynamics of Pakistan. I believe that APS created national resolve against Taliban;still we are in confused state, how to respond against "holy Jihad". Which was indoctrinated for three decades.The tragic incident left me in deep frustration and helplessness," Ayub Ayubi Anti-Terrorism Activist.

“APS attack was Pakistan's 9/11, with the nation coming out even stronger in building an opinion against the menace of extremism and terrorism. This incident showed that the struggle of over a decade was our own war to preserve our identity and existence, and President Musharraf was proved right. The martyrs of APS can never be forgotten and their sacrifice will be a motivation to eradicate radicalism and terrorism in the name of religion.” Saad Malik Vice President Youth Wing APML Pakistan.

“We were supposed to get better and do better as a society after that dark day. We need to look at our actions in the past two years and ask ourselves that have we done that or have we regressed.” Jibran Nasir, Lawyer and Social Activist

“After APS attack incident Isaw fear in the eyes of kids in AaghazSchool for the first time, I had to work hard to counseling and comfortthem through extra security measure but deep inside I can still feel their eyes full of fear even after 2 years. I don't know how to make them overcoming their fear. Syed Fahad,Hair to Help and founder of Aaghaz School.

“There is no humanity left in the world. We need to build a coalition of nations to fight against terrorism.16/12 is a constant reminder we have a long way to go as a nation against this menace.” ImranaTiwana, Social Activist and Environmentalist.

“Even after two years of the attack the families are not told who the culprits were and how did they succeeded in executing it. We send our kids to school to gain education not fight war. Instead of releasing songs ISPR should release facts on what happened.”Gulalai Ismail, Founder of AwareGirls.

“Wish National Action Plan was madesome20 years ago, it may have saved these kids. These songs will not ensure peace we need to take more positive steps.UzmaYaqoob,Forum of Dignity Initiative.

“These terrorists were cowards who could not fight with the men of this country. Earlier we never educated our kids on safety measures in such scenarios, but APS made us realize the importance of it. 16/12 made every kid a soldier.16/12/71 broke us, 16/12/14 made us stand up again to fight against this menace.”Haseeb Khan, Actor.