ISLAMABAD / CHARSADDA / PESHAWAR / MULTAN: All army-run schools in the country in addition to some schools operating under the federal board in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will remain closed till Sunday, January 31, due to “security concerns and cold weather,” but uncertainty persisted for other educational establishments in the country.
Following last week’s attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda that left 21 people dead – mostly students – a splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed it would launch more attacks on schools. It seemed to have sparked a review of security for all educational institutions. The Punjab and Sindh governments subsequently issued advisories for enhancing security of educational institutions.
On Monday, the Punjab government announced unexpected winter vacations in the province for the week owing to a cold wave as officials denied they were precipitated by any security threats.
A day later, the University of Karachi announced it was postponing its convocation for want of adequate security arrangements for the event with no new dates listed.
By late on Tuesday parents and students of army public schools and other military-run educational institutions were told that they would remain shut from Wednesday till Sunday, January 31. “The educational institutes will remain closed due to security concerns,” the principal of PAF Degree College Faisal Cantt in Karachi told parents.
But on Wednesday, there was more confusion with officials denying that government schools had been directed to close, but listed out measures to tighten security.
Multan DCO Zahid Saleem Gondal told several heads of schools that security had been tightened at 56 educational institutions in the district.
“Our enemy is targeting educational institutions to weaken the very foundations of our country…it is instilling fear into the minds of our future doctors, lawyers, engineers and academics and trying to detract us from the path to development,” Gondal said.
However, the Bahauddin Zakaria University, Multan announced it was closing for two days.
In Lahore, the provincial education minister Rana Mashhood said that “all possible steps are being taken for ensuring security of public and private educational institutions.”
He went on to appoint focal persons in all educational boards and directed owners of private educational institutions to contact them to resolve security issues.
In Islamabad Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division said that all government-run educational institutions will remain open.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2016.