The Pakistan Embassy in Qatar is hosting a memorial service tonight to honor the victims and families of the recent Peshawar school massacre.
The public “mourning ceremony” will take place from 7pm to 9pm at the embassy on Diplomatic Street in Dafna/West Bay and is open to the public, an embassy representative confirmed to Doha News.
The event will allow Qatar residents the opportunity to pay their respects to the 141 people, including 132 children, who were shot dead yesterday by militants from the Pakistani Taliban.
A Taliban spokesman said that the school, which is run by the army, had been targeted in response to military operations:
“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females. We want them to feel the pain,” Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani is quoted by Reuters as saying.
The Pakistan chancery and residence yesterday was flying its flag at half-mast, after Pakistan Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif declared three days of national mourning.
An embassy official told Doha News that a book of condolence has been opened for representatives of missions across Qatar to sign and pay their respects.
The confirmation of the public event followed calls made on social media by several Pakistani expats in Qatar to request an event be organized.
In a Facebook message to the Pakistan Embassy in Doha, Tehreek E. Insaaf said:
“Let’s schedule a candle light vigil some where to honor the Angels..At embassy or in Aspire park.”
Meanwhile, many Pakistanis around the world have turned their Facebook and Twitter profiles into black slates, bearing the date of the massacre:
Additionally, leaders from around the world have condemned the attack. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said:
“It is an act of horror and rank cowardice to attack defenseless children while they learn. The hearts of the world go out to the parents and families who lost loved one in the horrific attack.”
Qatar has so far remained silent on the massacre.
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s attack, some people have questioned the Gulf state’s support for the Taliban, which briefly included an office in Doha.
However, foreign policy experts say it is incorrect to consider the Taliban a single entity.
Some have suggested that there is a “Pakistan” Taliban opposed to that country’s government, as well as an Afghanistan Taliban group that has previously been represented in Qatar and condemned the attack.
“The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government,” spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Reuters.
David Roberts, a lecturer at King’s College London, spoke of complex divisions within the groups, saying they don’t necessarily respect national borders.
“The word ‘Taliban’ is a great catch-all,” he told Doha News.
Roberts said the individuals who attacked the school were “lunatics on the fringe,” far removed from “the more pragmatic people in the organization who Qatar has been dealing with.”
Apart from acting as an intermediary earlier this year during a prisoner exchange between the US and the Taliban, Rogers said there are few signs that Qatar is currently actively engaged with Taliban.