A video game based on the 2014 Taliban school massacre in which at least 132 children were killed in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar has been withdrawn after triggering social media uproar and backlash.
The game, “Pakistan Army Retribution”, was released by the Punjab IT board on Google Play, and invited the player to step into the shoes of a soldier shooting Taliban attackers in a school’s hallways.
It is inspired by Pakistan’s deadliest terror attack that saw seven Taliban gunmen storm the Army Public School (APS) in December 2014.
They shot students and teachers in cold blood and occupied the school for hours until they were killed by the army.
The assault shocked Pakistan and emotional ceremonies marking the anniversary were held across the country last month.
The game was released on Google Play several weeks ago but only came into the limelight after an article lampooning the game in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper appeared on Monday, making social media users lambast its makers for exploiting the tragedy.
By Monday afternoon, the game was no longer available on Google Play.
Umar Saif, the chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board, a government body, confirmed that the game was no longer available.
“It wasn’t very well done and it was in poor taste,” said Saif. “In hindsight it was not a good thing to do.
“APS was a watershed for Pakistan, so we had the idea of using it as a theme to promote peace, tolerance and harmony. The plan was to show children that the best weapons are the pen and the book.”
Saif added that the game was produced by an independent company that had “misunderstood the brief” and the IT board “messed up with this particular game”.