ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday advised President Mamnoon Hussain to reject mercy pleas of all the four convicted terrorists involved in last year’s bloody attack on Army Public School in Peshawar.

The military courts had sentenced the four terrorists - Sabeel alias Yahya, Abdu Salam, Hazrat Ali and Mujeebur Rehman alias Najibullah – to death in August after finding them guilty of committing the massacre that left more than 150 dead – 135 of them children.

On December 16, 2014, seven Taliban gunmen launched the terrorist attack on the APS. The militants, all of whom were foreign nationals, included one Chechen, three Arabs and two Afghans.

They entered the school and opened fire on school staff and children. A rescue operation was launched by the Pakistan Army’s Special Services Group (SSG), who killed all the seven terrorists and rescued 960 people.

This was the deadliest terrorist attack ever to occur in Pakistan since the 2007 Karachi bombing on former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s homecoming.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, describing it as revenge for operation Zarb-e-Azb, the military offensive in North Waziristan that started in summer 2014.

TTP spokesman Mohammed Omar Khorasani said, “We targeted the school because the Army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain.”

Later though the Taliban claimed contrary by putting out a statement saying, “More than 50 sons of important army officers were killed after being identified.” The attacks were mainly coordinated by TTP leaders operating in Afghanistan.

Investigations were launched to determine the nationalities of the terrorists, who were all found to be foreign fighters.

Chechen fighter Abu Shamil, Afghan militant Nouman Shah Helmand with a $ 500,000 bounty, Afghan national Wazir Alam Herat, Egyptian Khatib al-Zubaidi, Morrocon Mohammed Zahedi and Jibran al-Saeedi - an Arab of unknown nationality were identified by the authorities.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif said, “The perpetrators involved in brutal and merciless killing of our children do not deserve any mercy.”

He said the Peshawar tragedy had shaken the country and ‘changed Pakistan’.

The premier added, “By rejecting the mercy petition of these terrorists, I am also reflecting the will of the people and honouring the promise made to the families of my children who lost their lives in the Army Public School tragedy.”

The December school attack is seen as having hardened the country’s resolve to fight militants along its lawless border with Afghanistan. Authorities lifted a six-year moratorium on executions last December and since that time more than 200 convicts have been executed.

Amnesty International estimates that Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process.

Supporters argue that the death penalty was the only effective way to deal with the scourge of militancy in the country.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif directed authorities concerned to complete disbursement of compensation for damaged houses in quake affected areas by November 25.

Addressing quake affected people at Panakot in Upper Dir where he also distributed cheques, the prime minister said compensation was being paid on priority basis for rebuilding of houses in view of onset of winter and the resultant difficulties of the people.