Bruised but not beaten, 7 years have passed but we haven’t forgotten. On 16th December 2014, the horrific attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar sent shock waves throughout the world. Around 141 innocent lives were lost that day & for those who survived, their lives were never the same, especially of all those parents who lost their beloved children on that unfortunate December morning.
They say time heals every wound but they don’t tell you that even a day feels like a lifetime when you lose someone you love. We cannot even begin to comprehend how the families of the martyrs have been coping with their insurmountable pain these past 7 years. While the APS attack is etched in our hearts forever and we most definitely will never forget, let’s shed some light on a story of resilience that came out of this tragedy.
Ahmed Nawaz, a 20-year-old APS attack survivor, was just 14 years old when he lost his younger brother Haris Nawazas several gunmen stormed into their school & opened fire on students. Ahmad was shot in his left arm. His arm was damaged to the extent that doctors advocated amputation as the only option on the table. He, along with his family, was sent to the UK to receive treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
However, although the terrorists shattered his arm but not his will to get better for his family. He did get better and now, he is a student at Oxford University and the first Pakistani recipient of the Diana Award.
Ahmad Nawaz channeled his pain towards the greater good & something positive. Here is how he is making Pakistan proud by achieving/doing amazing things and is truly an epitome of resilience.
1. From APS To Oxford
After his treatment, Ahmad and his family stayed in the UK for a fresh start, of course, while coping with the loss of a loved one. Ahmad became a prominent voice in promoting the importance of education & empowering youth. He also focused on his education & secured a position at Oxford University last year to read Philosophy and Theology at Lady Margaret Hall. Pakistanis couldn’t be prouder!
”The terrorists shot me and brutality attacked my school to stop us from getting an education 5 years ago,” wrote Ahmad.
He announced the good news on Twitter and wrote, “Today I’m proud to share that I have secured a place to study at the University of Oxford!!. When there’s a will, there’s a way…,” we definitely agree.
2. Topped His GCSE Exams
In 2018, Ahmad got straight A’s in his GCSE exams. He was ecstatic when he announced the news on Twitter & thanked his parents for supporting him throughout. “My International GCSE exam result just came out and I am very proud to announce that I got “ 6A*s & 2As “ in my All eight(8) exams Thanks to my parents and all of you for supporting me. This is a big success for me and takes me many steps closer to my admission in Oxford Uni,” tweeted Ahmad.
3. Elected To The Oxford Union
In his first year at Oxford, Ahmad was elected as the treasurer of the Oxford Union. Founded in 1823, Oxford Union is one of the most renowned debating societies in the world. Ahmad is also an active member of Oxford’s Pakistan Society (Gulf News).
“Honoured to be elected the Treasurer of the historic @OxfordUnion in the recent elections. It has been an adventurous first year at Oxford with so many new experiences. I shall continue to utilise the Oxford Union platform to connect inspiring speakers with bright Oxonians,” Ahmad stated while announcing the news.
4. His Work As A Young Activist
Ahmad turned the horrendous attack of 2014 that aimed to stop him from getting an education, into his strength and made sure nobody else is devoid of education. In doing so, he became a prominent voice in empowering and educating youth by facilitating them with the right opportunities and tools.
He has spoken at various platforms including World Leaders Conference in Portugal and One Young World at the Nobel Peace Laureate Summit (Gulf News). Speaking to Gulf News, he stated “Adapting to the situation and the new circumstances, at the beginning of the pandemic, I began an initiative called Dialogues for Change. It’s an online forum on which I invite speakers of different backgrounds specialising in human rights and youth empowerment with the purpose to connect them with my audience.”
“The aim is for young people to get advice from experts on how they could be part of the change-making process and be involved in that despite the pandemic,” he added.
5. First Pakistani Recipient Of The Diana Award
In November 2019, Ahmad became the first Pakistani to get the Legacy Award for the Diana Award from Lady Diana’s brother Charles Spencer. Before the ceremony, he also had the honor of attending a tea at Kensington Palace hosted by Prince William.
“I’m extremely honoured to be awarded ‘The Legacy award 2019’ for my global campaign. It was an absolute pleasure to be invited by HRH Prince Williams to @KensingtonRoyal for tea and share my work for young people with him. He told me that he loved his recent visit to Pakistan.”
This is just the beginning for Ahmad Nawaz. Our hearts swell with pride when we think of him – just a 20-year-old boy who did not let his past trauma take over. He is an inspiration to many with all the work he has been doing for youth empowerment. Ahmad’s laudable achievements are a testament to his indestructible will. It didn’t stop him when terrorists put a bullet in his arm and killed his brother, and it won’t stop him now.
All our prayers are with the APS martyrs, survivors, and their families. We wish them all the strength to cope with this immeasurable pain.