It is not a hidden fact that the education industry in Pakistan faces numerous challenges nowadays, such as miserable infrastructure, lack of trained teachers, poor access due to affordability, gender bias, and much more. The onset of terrorism has only intensified these hurdles because the fear of Islamic militant violence has disrupted education and lives of thousands of students across the nation. This leads us to wonder, who are these people? Why are they doing this? Why can’t they be stopped? Yet we seem to be left unanswered and vulnerable!
Terrorizing education – what do they want?
Attacks on students by militant groups, especially the Tehteek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are triggered for several reasons. These include creating panic to undermine the state as well as enforcing gender discrimination by preventing education of girls. Besides, some schools are also targeted due to enforcing a curriculum and environment that are too Western, while others are attacked for being used as bases by security forces. Whatever the reason is, terrorists aim to send some sort of threatening message to policy-makers and public.
Unforgettable horrific incidents
In 2009, after TTP spread over Swat, it began a violent campaign against educating girls, which eventually forced 900 schools in the region to shut down. This matter drew attention internationally in 2012 when Malala Yousafzai, a young student, was shot by the Taliban for speaking up publicly for her right to education. She survived, and became an international sensation, but not every victim has a fate like hers.
Another incident took place in international islamic university Islamabad where twin blasts were heard on 22 October 2009,In which many young girls and boys lost their life to terrorism.
Another incident that shook the world was the brutal massacre of students of the Army Public School in 2014, which led to 144 children losing their lives and several others being severely injured. This included teachers as well. The next one to gain spotlight was the 2016 attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda that killed more than 20 people, most of them being students.
All in all, the Global Terrorism Database has recorded around 867 attacks on schools in Pakistan between the years 2007 to 2015. This accounted to 392 deaths and 724 injuries. Hundreds of schools, being damaged, have also been reported as an aftermath of terrorist assaults.
In a video released by a Taliban commander to claim credits for a particular killing spree; he was found to be uttering, “We will continue to attack schools, colleges and universities across Pakistan as these are the foundations that produce apostates.” This statement only puts fuel to the raging fire.
The plight of unhealed scars
Such cruel acts of terrorism may have silenced out voices, but they will never silent the scars. The scars will remain unhealed, serving as a reminder of the heart-wrenching torment. Families and well-wishers of victims will continue to loathe the existence of militants, for as long as they exist. They will retaliate by pursuing education more passionately than before. Although, there might be a few who prefer to crawl into isolation to stay safe, but the heroes will keep marching forward to set an example that may inspire many. Besides, the government should wake up and play an active role in adopting a systematic approach towards securing educational institutions throughout the country.
Such attacks not only harm the affected individuals and their families, but also cast a negative impact on the Pakistani society as a whole. The security of schools, colleges and universities should be improved, and reliable information on potential threats should be made public immediately.
We can’t let Terrorism take over!