The Pakistani government must take immediate steps to protect students, teachers, schools, and rights defenders at risk of attack, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement Friday.
“Armed groups including the Taliban, al Qaeda, and their affiliates should cease attacks that target children, educational personnel, and schools,” the statement said.
HRW collected reports of 96 school attacks in Pakistan this year alone. Most of these attacks took place in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) bordering Afghanistan.
“Parts of Pakistan are among the most dangerous places in the world to go to school today,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.
“The unity of global condemnation and the speed of response in the wake of Malala’s shooting were phenomenal, but we need to see the same kind of reaction every time a student or school is attacked,” Hasan added.
Human Rights Watch said that non-governmental organisation workers in FATA and KP have also been targeted for their work on education.
The statement said that the federal government should cooperate with provincial authorities to create an advance rapid response system whenever there are attacks on schools, so that these facilities are quickly repaired or rebuilt and destroyed educational material is replaced so that children can return to school as soon as possible.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2012.