Closing education institutions no solution

Published: February 1, 2016
Shamim Shahid is the city editor of the Peshawar edition. PHOTO: FILE

Shamim Shahid is the city editor of the Peshawar edition. PHOTO: FILE

Shamim Shahid is the city editor of the Peshawar edition. PHOTO: FILE Government needs to establish credibility, change strategy. PHOTO: IRFAN GHAURI

PESHAWAR: Instead of taking steps to establish credibility, rulers and custodians of law and order are creating further controversies in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attack at Bacha Khan University Charsadda.

The situation is a bizarre one resulting in no action. People are petrified of more attacks on educational institutions, but the government and educationists are busy playing blame games and shirking responsibility. Closing educational institutions is not a solution to any of this. To make matters worse, some politicians and politically motivated elements within the media are bent upon exploiting this situation for their personal and political gains.

The reaction to the attack on Bacha Khan University Charsadda confirmed national unity against extremism – yet again. The unprecedented unanimity also forced a significant group of militants to denounce the inhuman act. The country might be uniting over each drop of spilt blood, but rulers fail to go ahead with any action against terror.

Instead of encouraging teachers and students to focus on education, our leaders are asking teachers and administration to arm themselves. Security “rehearsals,” are further terrorising students and teachers.

As a result, not only school but even college and university level students are reluctant to attend classes. Some educational institutions are shut or have very low attendance while others are on high alert and have been directed to ensure their own safety and protection. At the moment, academicians, teachers and students throughout Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are gripped with the worst kind of panic and unrest.

Game gone wrong

Even though current rulers boast about the success of military operations like Zarb-e-Azab and Khyber-I and II—even the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition at the Centre made similar claims about Rah-e-Rast, Rah-e-Nijat—the way the current scenario is playing out, a different story is being told about success and losses.

It is becoming evident countless military actions against terror, with propaganda speak about peace, have been futile. Terrorist networks in Waziristan and Tirah Valley are said to have been dislodged but attacks on government installations and universities suggest they exist and continue to pose a serious danger to the country, its assets, innocent students and their previously unarmed teachers.

It is a well-known fact the country, especially K-P, has experienced the worst kinds of atrocities since 2007. Between 2007 and 2013, more than 50,000 people, including law-enforcement officials, fell victim to terrorism, infrastructure worth Rs45 billion was destroyed,  polio workers slaughtered, students shot dead and owners of private institutions forced to heavily invest in the security of their facilities.

But till recently, no one closed educational institutions or suggested teachers, students, administration and other employees get military training or take steps for their own security.

All political parties and their leaders have “condemned” the government for its failure to protect its people. However, some, including ministers, are reluctant to accept their own failures.

It is ironic the person who was held responsible for the DI Khan prison break in 2013 is now accusing the Bacha Khan University administration for “negligence.” The university administration tried to exonerate itself by saying teachers, students or university security guards cannot act like the army or police and fend terror.

What needs to be done

Government institutions, particularly law-enforcement agencies, are losing their credibility and need to develop new strategies to deal with the tense situation.

After the Mujahedeen, Taliban and Al Qaeda, the Islamic State (IS) or Daish are now spreading their roots in the heart of the country. Financiers, sponsors and planners of this new-old game are playing their cards extremely carefully. Continuation of violent acts in this region will not only suit the western world but also benefit the authoritarian Gulf Region. Rulers need to think about the future of their own country and their own people; instead of blaming others, they need to look inwards and then take realistic steps.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st,  2016.

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