Pakistan removes video game based on Taleban school massacre after online uproar

Pakistani activists light candles in Quetta on the anniversary of the attack on Army Public School Peshawar, December 16, 2015.
Pakistani activists light candles in Quetta on the anniversary of the attack on Army Public School Peshawar, December 16, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A Pakistani video game based on a Taleban school massacre of more than 150 people, mostly children, in the country's north-west was removed on Monday (Jan 18) after triggering a social media uproar, with critics blasting it as tasteless.

The game, called "Pakistan Army Retribution", was released by the Punjab IT board on Google Play, and invites the player to step into the shoes of a soldier shooting extremists in the hallways of a school.

It is inspired by Pakistan's deadliest-ever insurgent attack that saw nine Taleban gunmen storm a school in Peshawar city, shooting students and teachers in cold blood and occupying the school for hours until they were killed by the army.

The Dec 16, 2014 assault shocked Pakistan, already scarred by a decade of attacks, and emotional ceremonies marking the anniversary were held across the country last month.

But after an article lampooning the game in Pakistan's most widely read English language newspaper Dawn on Monday, social media users lambasted its makers for exploiting the tragedy.

"Bizarre and distasteful," user Shaheryar Mirza wrote.

"Play the APS game on Android, kill the bad guys, empathy and good taste in one go," wrote Fasi Zaka, referring to the Army Public School, which was targeted in the grisly attack.

The Punjab Information Technology Board, a government body aggressively promoting digital innovation in the central Pakistan province, offered a mea culpa on Twitter.

"The APS game has been removed. It was in poor taste," its head Umar Saif wrote.

"Thank you for highlighting this mistake. We have made the amends."

By Monday afternoon, the game was no longer available on Google Play.