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Nothing can destroy us: Akif Azeem

Nothing can destroy us

Akif Azeem would have been the first to fall when Taliban militants stormed an Army Public School in Peshawar, killing over 150 people, most of them students. The second year student, however, had excused himself during class on the morning of December 16.

Featured in a Facebook post by Humans of Pakistan, a project of ‘Words in Action’, Azeem describes how he heard shots fired while he was in the bathroom. He rushed outside to see what’s happening and found a man holding an AK47. The man fired shots at him as soon as he spotted him on the other side of the grill.

But he missed, hitting the wall instead. The armed man yelled out “Odreka”, meaning stop, as Azeem rushed to get cover behind a pillar and managed to escape another two shots fired at him.

Instead of hunting him down, the militant headed towards the auditorium, which was packed with students.

“I think he did not want to waste his time and moved to auditorium instead. I was fortunate enough to slip pass him to the nearest class where already 28 students of 7th grade were present,” he recalls.

Some students who were able to escape from the auditorium were ushered into the classroom by Azeem. He helped 15 students hide in the room and barricaded the door. He then headed to the corridors to rescue children and injured.

He recalls how he wanted to get to his friends who were still in their class, but was unable find a way around the firing and the grenades. He lost 17 of his friends, all of whom he helped bury. His life, he says, was engulfed with funerals, misery and darkness.

Azeem now plans to complete his studies and join the Pakistan Army, not just because of the loss of his friends but the loss of 50,000 people.

An army soldier walks past a bullet-riddled wall at the Army Public School in Peshawar on December 17, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

He believes “nothing can destroy us” and wants to stand for those who would want him to.

“[My friends] were my life; it is not easy to start over again. People forget and move on, maybe because everyone is just so busy with their lives, but we are a resilient nation and no matter how many times we are pushed to the ground, we will stand up and fight again.”

Courtesy: Tribune Blog

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