Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to “take revenge” for last December’s carnage at a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where more than 150 people, mainly children, lost their lives.
Sharif made the remarks during a ceremony held to mark the first anniversary of the massacre on Wednesday.
Speaking beneath portraits of children killed by Taliban bullets at the military-run Army Public School in Peshawar, Sharif said his administration would keep up its campaign against terror.
“We are here to remember you, you will always live in our hearts,” the Pakistani premier said, adding, “And I also pledge to you that we will take revenge for every drop of your blood.”
Last December, a group of pro-Taliban militants stormed the army-run school in Peshawar and killed at least 151 people, including 132 students. The massacre shocked and outraged a country already scarred by nearly a decade of attacks.
The horrific attack was claimed by the Taliban militants. The raid prompted Pakistan to set up military courts for terrorism and lift a 2008-moratorium on the death penalty.
Sharif also noted that the Peshawar attack galvanized Pakistanis and inspired the whole nation in its fight against terrorism. “The entire nation asked: do these beasts, devoid of all humanity, deserve any mercy?”
Army chief Raheel Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan also attended the ceremony.
However, some angry and distraught parents boycotted Wednesday's ceremony in protest. Many of the victims’ families have reiterated calls for a judicial inquiry into the security failings that led to the militant attack last year.
Jamal Abdul Nasir, father of a victim, told AFP news agency that nothing could bring back their children.
"They can't stop the tears of my wife. We want nothing, only justice," he said, breaking down into tears himself as he remembered his son Awais.
One parent who would only identify himself as the father of Hamid Ali Khan held Pakistani authorities responsible for the deadly militant attack. "I only want an answer to my question... Why did the state fail to protect my child?" he asked
Pakistani authorities have long been accused of not being tough enough on Taliban and other extremists — to stem spiraling violence in a nation which has become a safe haven for several militant groups.
Pakistan has been waging a major offensive against militant hideouts across the troubled northwestern tribal regions since June 2014 to quell violence that has raged unabated following the 2001 US-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials say almost 3,500 militants have been killed since the launch of the operation. This comes as Pakistani army Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is known as one of the major supporters of the Taliban.