Pakistan leaders united on Tuesday in condemning the Tehreek-e-Taliban's attack on an army-run school, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif termed the siege "national tragedy" and chaired a security meeting in Peshawar where he was briefed about the the attack.
"This is in retaliation of our military operation against the terrorists. The government together with the army has started Zarb-e-Azb and it will continue until the terrorism is rooted out from our land," said Sharif, who called the attack an act of cowardice which will not be tolerated at any cost.
Zarb-e-Azb is the name of the Pakistani military operation being carried out in North Waziristan.
Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan condemned the deadly attack. "There is no justification for this," he said.
"We are with the families of the victims. All of Pakistan is with them," Khan added.
His reaction invoked severe criticism from many Pakistani journalists.
Khurram Husain, a Pakistan-based business and economy journalist, tweeted, "Imran Khan ends his formal remarks, taking questions. Still hasn't mentioned the TTP. Only condemning terrorism generically."
Imaan Sheikh of Buzzfeed India tweeted, "I still can't believe Imran Khan didn't mention the Taliban. Have I missed something? Because I only heard him condemn general terrorism."
Following severe backlash, Khan later condemned the TTP in a tweet. "We condemn the TTP which owned this attack on innocent children.It is time to rise beyond mere compensations for victims & condemnations."
Reacting to the attack, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai said, "I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us. Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this. I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government."
Zaid Hamid, a Pakistani political commentator and a well-known Twitterati, sought army retaliation, in a series of tweets.
"Every parent of Pakistan is in tears today... these were OUR children.! This huge sacrifice will wake up a sleeping tiger now! We are firm !"
"Go Pak army ! Take revenge for our children ! Drag these snakes out of jails & hang them in Peshawar by hundreds. We demand this. God Speed!"
(With PTI, ANI, IANS inputs)