ANKARA, 16 December 2015: To pay homage to the school children and staff martyred in the brutal terrorist attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School (APS) last year, a solemn ceremony was held today at Keçiören, Ankara.

The people and leadership of Turkey extended spontaneous support to Pakistan in the face of the terrorist attack of 16 December 2014. Turkey declared a day of national mourning. Also, as a show of solidarity, Keçiören Municipality and Youth Wing members of the Justice and Development (AK) Party planted 144 trees, one for each shaheed, at the AK Party Memorial Forest in Keçiören. On 12 October 2015, Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif and Mayor of Keçiören Mustafa Ak unveiled a plaque on which names of the martyred children were engraved.

The ceremony began with national anthems of Pakistan and Turkey rendered by Pakistan Embassy School children. A documentary on APS prepared by ISPR was screened. All the guests joined in laying wreath and placing flowers at the memorial, followed by prayers for the departed souls.

In his remarks on the occasion, Ambassador of Pakistan Sohail Mahmood recalled the black day of 16 December 2014 when 144 lives were taken away in the cowardly terrorist attack. The heartless manner, in which these flowers were plucked away, left every heart in Pakistan and elsewhere bleeding. “While we were heart-broken, the nation united in its resolve to decisively defeat the scourge of terrorism. An intensified Operation Zarb-e-Azab symbolized this determination,” he said.

Ambassador thanked the people and leadership of Turkey who were among the first in the world to reach out and express strong solidarity with the people of Pakistan. He said the special gesture of AK Party Youth Wing and Keçiören Municipality of planting a tree for each martyr was a source of strength for the grieving families and the Pakistani nation and would keep their memory alive in Turkey forever.

Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and Chairman of Pakistan-Turkey Cultural Association Mr. Burhan Kayaturk in his address said our hearts beat together. He said both Pakistan and Turkey were facing the challenge of terrorism and hoped that both countries through the support and strong determination of its people will overcome.

Deputy Mayor of Keçiören Municiplaity Mr. Ferhat Erdogan in his speech reiterated the commitment that the people of Turkey and Pakistan will always stand by each other in good and bad times. President of AK Party Youth Wing of Keçiören district Mr. Cansu Mutlu reaffirmed solidarity of the people of Turkey with Pakistan and said planting of tree for each shaheed was meant to keep their memory alive.

Children from Pakistan Embassy School, Pakistani students studying in different Turkish universities, Pakistani and Turkish community, members of the AK Party Youth Wing, and Keçiören Municiplaity officials, member of civil society and media attended the event.

Earlier in the day, Quran Khawani was held for the martyrs in Pakistan Embassy Ankara.

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