Peace Vigil for Peshawar Brings Strong Turnout and Restored Hope

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Vigil attendees at the intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer, outside Starbucks on Wednesday, December 17.
Photos: Zafar Tahir and Vanshika Vipin

By Vanshika Vipin

HOUSTON:  It was one of the most gratifying moment when the diverse community of Houston got together as one and took part in a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of the Peshawar attack at the intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer on Wednesday, December 17. The attack, carried out by the Pakistani Taliban group “Tehrik-e-Taliban,” killed 141 people of the Army Public School, 132 of these victims were children.

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From left: Afzaal Mahmood, Consul General of Pakistan, Zafar Tahir, Samia Adil, and Imran Adil.

Samia Adil, radio host at HumTum radio and a popular DJ, initiated the event, and made it very clear in preparation for the event that it does not have any association to any political or religious institution.” Be there as humans,” Adil said. “Be there to show your respect, mourn the loss of 132 children and stand with everyone in solidarity, not to glorify yourself or organization. There will be no speeches.

In spite of the cold weather, people came out to show their support, starting at 7:30 pm which went all the way till 10:00 pm. Vigil attendees crowded all four corners of the busy intersection, wearing black clothing and holding candles and signs for those who drove by. The participants included all ages and the majority were of South Asian decent.

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One such attendee, Bushra Bangash, said that the incident made her lose faith in humanity while the vigil gave her hope in the future.“Seeing a great number of people there to pay their respects to the martyrs really got my hopes up again for a better Pakistan,” Bangash said. “I really do believe that this incident has awaken our nation and united it towards a common goal.”

In an exclusive conversation with IAN, Afzaal Mahmood, Consul General of Pakistan, said, “My heart goes out to all the victims and their loved ones. We are all here to express our unity, our support to the victims of terrorism. I am thankful to everyone present at the vigil for their support.”

Everyone lauded Samia’s efforts who coordinated the event. She was overwhelmed with the response she received. She said, “ I would like to thank Indo-American News and the Indian community for their support. We got together as humans; this is not about any religion, but about humanity. We, even as Muslims want to end these atrocities by Taliban and we hope that the world will understand and see our perspective as well.”

IAN had the opportunity to speak with Basit Kamal, an electrical engineer in Houston who studied at the same Army Public School in Peshawar. He said, “It is heartbreaking to hear about this and for me personally it is very disturbing to see pictures of the same classrooms and auditorium where my classes were held, but now they are all filled with blood.  One of my professors was burnt alive during this attack. We have no words for such inhuman acts. I am very sad, and pray for world peace.”

(Article contribution: Sarah Taqvi)