A video game that depicts the gory events from the day when Taliban terrorists massacred more than 130 children inside a Pakistani school has been pulled weeks after it was released as part of an army-backed peace and tolerance campaign.
The video game had been available to users of Android mobile devices since last month. However, when Dawn, one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers, ran a review of the game on its website Monday, it drew public attention. Dawn declared that the game “failed on every front.”
“This first-person shooter (FPS) game titled ‘Pakistan Army Retribution’ is based on the tragedy, when terrorists massacred 144 pupils in what was the country’s most brutal terror attack,” reports Dawn. “A quick response from the army is said to have restrained the damage but not before the attackers claimed hundreds of innocent lives.”
No one, especially families of the victims, would ever want to re-live that dark day. But oddly enough, the developers decided to recreate those moments for a gaming experience… As much as some would argue, the desire to tackle an attacker visiting the school in this virtual manner is in poor taste. The Peshawar attack was a tragedy that holds national significance since it sent the entire nation into trauma. Any recreation of the carnage that day seems insensitive.
Many online readers criticized the game as well, notes The Guardian.
“Online readers were as unimpressed as the reviewer, with many lambasting it as disrespectful to the dead,” it reports.
“Making a game out of the nation’s most gruesome tragedy is adding salt to the injuries of not only the families of the martyred children but the entire nation,” reportedly wrote one commenter.
The players of the game assume the role of a soldier attempting to “protect the lives from terrorists” who attacked the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, Pakistan, in December 2014, reports the Guardian.
“There are various levels in the game, which features a rousing rendition of the national anthem, depicts events from the day of the attack and is branded with the logos of the Pakistani army and Punjab Information Technology Board,” it adds. “The organizations jointly commissioned the game as part of a campaign to mark the one-year anniversary of the school killings.”
The Guardian quotes Umar Saif, chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board, as revealing that the game was immediately pulled from the Google Play store on Monday.
“It wasn’t very well done and it was in poor taste,” he said. “In hindsight it was not a good thing to do.”
The December 2014 attack on the schoolchildren and teachers in Peshawar by seven Pakistani Taliban jihadists, reportedly to avenge army operations against terrorist sanctuaries, shocked the country profoundly despite the terrorism attacks that routinely take place. Peshawar is located close to Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the U.S. military has been fighting the Taliban and other terrorists since October 2001. The Pentagon and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists, including those fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan was so shocked by the assault on the school that a prohibition against the death penalty was waived in response to the attack.
“The incident has been credited with pushing Pakistan into a long-delayed confrontation with domestic militant groups,” reports The Guardian.
“Pakistan Army Retribution” is just one of many videos, jingles, and social media items commissioned as part of a Peaceful Pakistan campaign intended to build on national revulsion over the attack on the schoolchildren, indicated Saif.
“APS was a watershed for Pakistan so we had the idea of using it as a theme to promote peace, tolerance and harmony,” he said. “The plan was to show children that the best weapons are the pen and the book.”
An independent company that “misunderstood” the idea produced the game, reportedly said Saif.
“We tried to the use the campaign to galvanize support for peaceful Pakistan but I guess we messed up with this particular game,” he acknowledged.