جمعہ، 26 اکتوبر، 2012
Kharji Taliban war against Pakistani children
In the ensuing years, militants have bombed thousands of schools across Pakistan mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in an effort to discourage education and to keep girls in their homes.
What started as attacks against the education system has devolved into more personal attacks on youths, putting a whole generation at risk.
Parents around Pakistan were bombarded with such questions after a Taliban gunman shot Malala Yousafzai – a 15-year-old girl who gained fame for speaking out against the militants’ repressive view of education – and two of her schoolmates October 9 in Mingora, Swat. All three survived.
While Malala’s case has put the Taliban’s attacks on youth in the international spotlight, it is only one of the latest examples of the threat the militants pose to future generations of Pakistanis.
History of targeting children:
The militant war against children dates to 2007.
"The Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) operation and missile strike on a religious seminary in Damadola, Bajaur Agency, turned the militants’ focus on attacking schools and students," said Brig. (ret.) Said Nazeer, a security analyst, referring to a July 2007 incident in which Pakistani troops, during the reign of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, raided a jihadist madrassa in Islamabad.
"They found a justification and made it part of their discourse accusing government of promoting secular education while targeting religious seminaries," Nazeer said.
In the ensuing years, militants have bombed thousands of schools across Pakistan, mostly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), in an effort to discourage education and to keep girls in their homes.
More recently, though, the Taliban have resorted to schemes like devising improvised explosive devices (IEDs) out of candy boxes and toys, all in an effort to harm the next generation of Pakistanis.
The trend of killing innocent children is a serious concern, Ajmal Wazir, commentator and senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, told Central Asia Online.
“Children are the future of Pakistan,” said Wazir. “Terrorising school-going children by targeting them means militants wanted to deprive the country of its future.”
Pakistan has worked diligently not to let the Taliban’s assault on schools keep today’s children from obtaining an education.
Militants have bombed more than 2,000 educational facilities – mostly girls’ schools – in KP, according to Sardar Hussain Babak, provincial education minister, but about 90% have been repaired and officials plan more reconstruction.
Babak also pointed to a telling indicator that the militant efforts to dissuade parents from sending their children to school are in vain.
"It is encouraging that militants can bomb a school at night, but students and teachers sit to study in the open next morning on the debris," he said in describing many cases across the province.
"Yes, there is a fear among the students and teachers because militants are sending threatening letters and attacking them," Babak said, "but it has the least impact on morale of children and parents."
And in FATA, where militants have destroyed about 600 schools, parents also aren’t keeping their children out of school, federal minister for FATA and the northern region Shaukatullah Khan told Central Asia Online.
Indeed, the number of attacks has fallen recently as local tribes have taken on more responsibility for protecting the schools because, as he said, "Everybody wants to educate his children."
Militants were aiming to create fear among female students in Swat with the attack on Malala, Dr. Khadim Hussain, director of the Bacha Khan Education Foundation in Peshawar, said. Instead, "Malala turned out a symbol of resistance for female students against militants," he said.
By Hasan Khan
Central Asia Online.
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