Pakistan’s ambassador to Manila on Wednesday condemned the slaughter by Taliban militants of 141 people, mostly students, at an Army-run school in Peshawar and called on all nations to unite against terrorism.
Ambassador Safdar Hayat said he could barely express in words the pain of the families of the victims of the carnage, adding that the school was just five kilometers away from his house in Peshawar.
At least six Taliban militants scaled the walls of the school on Tuesday and began to shoot everyone they saw. Pakistani authorities said all the attackers were killed by security forces.
Speaking at a roundtable forum at The Manila Times office in Intramuros, Manila, Hayat said he has received a note of sympathy from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), while the Asia Bureau has received messages from various countries.
He called on all nations to condemn the Taliban and terrorists all over the world.
“If all countries are against it, terror groups will not survive,” Hayat said.
“Terrorism is an international phenomenon. It knows no religion, no race and no geography. The attack is indiscriminate, including children and elderly, the civilians,” he said.
The ambassador said “there is not a single word in the Koran that allows you to kill innocent people. Islam is a religion of peace.”
Hayat advised the Philippine government to be very extra careful in securing Pope Francis who will arrive on January 15 for a five-day visit.
“You need to exercise maximum security. An exchange of information with security agencies and counter-terror authorities,” he said, adding that Pakistan is also coordinating with the Philippine intelligence.
On January 16, the pope will meet with President Benigno Aquino 3rd before flying to Tacloban on the 17th. His visit will culminate with a Mass in Rizal Park which is expected to draw not less than five million people.
Hayat said terrorists were cowards. “They can not face our Army,” he said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd joined other world leaders in condemning the attack in Peshawar.
“We join the world in condemning the outrage perpetrated on innocent schoolchildren, and school officials and personnel in Peshawar, Pakistan,” the President said in a statement.
“The senseless deaths of so many young lives, and the barbarism of this attack is an affront to all civilized peoples. Such an act of terror and savagery deserves nothing less than our condemnation. There can be no justification for this tragedy, which has dishonored Islam,” he added.
President Aquino also expressed the country’s solidarity and sympathy with the people of Pakistan.
“In this moment of grief and sadness for the people of Pakistan, the Filipino people are one with them in mourning. Today, every person of goodwill is a father, mother, brother, and sister to the people of Pakistan,” he said.
WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE