On Tuesday, militants from the Pakistani Taliban stormed a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan and killed 141 people, including 132 children.
This is the deadliest Taliban attack in the history of Pakistan.
According to Pakistani officials, the attack is now over. Pakistani special forces carried out a rescue operation, killing the seven militants involved.
The Pakistani military has stated that all of the militants were wearing suicide vests.
A Taliban spokesperson stated that the attacks were in response to Pakistani military operations against it in the northern part of the country. Meanwhile, the Pakistani military has already responded to today’s attack.
— Gen Raheel Sharif (@PakArmyChief) December 16, 2014
#PakArmy has launched massive air strikes in Khyber on the intelligence reports.More thn10 air strikes hve been carried out in last 1 hour
— Gen Raheel Sharif (@PakArmyChief) December 16, 2014
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is highly active in the north of Pakistan and is closely affiliated with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Thus, it certainly counts America as an enemy, particularly due to US drone strikes in the region.
This is hardly the first attack that the TTP has carried out in Pakistan, but it is definitely the worst.
Children Should Not Have To Live In Fear, No Matter Where They Are
The events today have prompted both outrage and sympathy from leaders and public figures around the world, including Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.
In 2012, Yousafzai was almost killed by the TTP when its militants attacked a schoolbus she was on and shot her in the face. Fortunately, she survived, and has since become an inspiration to people around the world.
On Tuesday, she expressed deep sadness over the events at the school, tweeting:
“I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated.” –#Malala
— Malala Fund (@MalalaFund) December 16, 2014
Other world leaders expressed similar sentiments:
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific attack…in Peshawar, Pakistan.” —Obama pic.twitter.com/oZB0lpHVmY
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 16, 2014
India stands firmly with Pakistan in fight against terror. Told PM Sharif we are ready to provide all assistance during this hour of grief.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 16, 2014
What happened in Pakistan on Tuesday is exceptionally tragic. Hundreds of young lives were taken from this world far before their time. This senseless attack is shocking, enraging and deeply saddening all at once. As Malala Yousafzai so aptly put it:
Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this.
Today’s devastating events should not be diminished in any sense. At the same time, the deadly incident also provides a great deal of perspective when it comes to violence in the United States.
Every single year, thousands of American children are needlessly injured or killed.
Regardless of where they are in the world, children deserve to live, learn and grow in an environment where they don’t feel threatened. At present, not even the United States can offer such a place.
10,000 Children Are Injured Or Killed By Guns Every Year In The US
The attack in Pakistan comes almost exactly two years after one of the deadliest school shooting in US history. On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He also killed himself during the incident.
The events at Sandy Hook will forever haunt the collective psyche of the United States. Yet, since that tragic day, not enough has been done to curb gun violence in the United States, particularly as it pertains to children.
According to data from a recent study conducted by Yale School of Medicine, around 7,000 children are sent to the ER with injuries from firearms every year.
Simultaneously, an additional 3,000 children die from gun wounds before even making it to the hospital. In other words, firearms contribute to an estimated 10,000 adolescent injuries or deaths per year in the United States.
This is staggering, and absolutely unacceptable.
Likewise, the study’s lead author, Dr. John Leventhal, stated:
All are unnecessary hospitalizations because preventing gun violence is something that can actually be done.
Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) estimates that firearms are one of the top three causes of death in American youth.
Correspondingly, there have been 95 shootings on K-12 and college campuses since Sandy Hook. That’s an average of one school shooting per week. These shootings have left 45 people dead and 78 injured.
Gun rights advocates are likely tempted to argue that if people were taught how to use firearms properly, this wouldn’t happen.
In other words, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This tiresome argument has been used for years, and nothing has changed.
There is an undeniable problem with firearms in America.
What we really need are expanded background checks as well as laws regulating safe storage so that firearms don’t end up in the hands of children.
The gun control movement has recently exhibited reinvigorated levels of passion and energy, but much more needs to be done on a national scale.
You might have the right to own a gun, but this should never come at the expense of children’s well-being. Common sense legislation can make this country safer, protecting the lives of adults and children alike.
As we think of the children in Pakistan, let us also remember the children impacted by violence in America and across the globe.