As part of a candlelight vigil honoring lives lost in Tuesday’s Taliban attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan, over 100 members of the University community gathered on the Diag Wednesday evening to reflect on the recent violence in the country.
In the Taliban’s most recent attack on Pakistani schools, 148 people were killed — 132 of which were children — and at least a hundred more hospitalized with injuries.
At the vigil, which was organized by the Michigan Pakistanis and the Muslim Students’ Association, many of the students stood on the Hatcher Graduate Library stairs holding Pakistani flags and signs reading, “The smallest coffins are the heaviest,” “Today we bleed together” and “#PrayForPeshawar.” At the bottom of the steps candles were arranged to spell “Peshawar.”
Before student leaders shared their thoughts on the events, the group was silent for 10 minutes of reflection. Most of the speakers were of Pakistani heritage and several spoke of personal experiences dealing with violence in the country.
“It’s amazing to see all the solidarity,” said MSA President Saher Rathur, an LSA senior. “People of all ethnicities attended the event to show their support for Pakistan.”
Many of the speakers discussed their hope that the media does not define all of Pakistan by these attacks. Speakers asked attendants to pray for Pakistan and the families affected by the attacks.
MPak President Mansoor Saqib, an LSA senior, said he hopes the media depicts these attacks with nuance.
“Instead we should focus on why this attack took place,” Saquib said. “What were the real political agendas of these groups or monsters? What is our government and the Pakistani government doing to perpetuate such violence? And more importantly, what can we as citizens of this world do to stop violent tragedies like this from frequently repeating?”
Following the vigil, organizers held a traditional funeral prayer in Mason Hall and prepared a card for attendees to sign and send to Peshawar.
LSA junior Haider Malik’s family lives in Peshawar and he attended school there before coming to Michigan for college. He said he hopes the United States does not react with force as it did in its response to the September 11 attacks.
“Let us not seek to respond to force with more force,” Malik said. “That’s not the answer.”