The Taliban’s ‘alarmingly efficient’ war on training

Last week’s Pakistani Taliban attack in Peshawar, which claimed the lives of 141 people, mainly young children, was the worst terrorist atrocity the nation has suffered. But Peshawar Public Army college was far from the initial Pakistani school to be targeted by the fundamentalist militants: according to a comprehensive report launched earlier this 12 months by the Global Coalition to Shield Training from Attack (GCPEA), a coalition of organisations such as Human Rights View, Conserve the Kids and Unicef, at least 838 have been attacked between 2009 and 2012. Hundreds have been destroyed.

As symbols of government authority and, in the words of the International Crisis Group, accused of “promoting western decadence and un-Islamic teachings”, colleges have proved a soft target for the Pakistani Taliban in their northwestern strongholds.

According to the GCPEA, many, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the so-called federally administered tribal locations, have been attacked at evening, blown up or razed to the ground with little, improvised bombs set with timers. Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission reported a lot more than 500 schools broken or destroyed in this way in 2009 alone.

But a number of have also been attacked in the daytime, which includes with grenades, rockets, rifles and machine guns, and school buses have also come under attack. In one this kind of incident, in September 2011, Taliban fighters “fired a rocket at a college bus transporting students property from Khyber Model school close to Peshawar”, the GCPEA says. “When the rocket missed, they opened fire with guns on the other side of the automobile.” Twelve schoolchildren have been injured in that assault, even though 4 much more, and their driver, died.

A cautious compilation of local media and aid group reviews suggests at least thirty schoolchildren misplaced their lives in attacks on schools in Pakistan among 2009 and 2012, the report says, and more than 97 have been injured – like Nobel prize-winner Malala Yousafzai, 15, who was shot in the face and neck on her school bus for “promoting secular and anti-Taliban values” by campaigning for girls’ training. At least 138 pupils and employees have also been kidnapped, of whom far more than forty are thought nevertheless to be in Taliban captivity.

The report also says at least 15 teachers have been killed above the very same period a single was shot since he refused to follow the Taliban’s dress code, and yet another because he declared suicide bombings un-Islamic. Eight far more were injured, such as four ladies who were victims of acid attacks. In January 2013, five ladies teachers and two wellness staff were shot dead in KP province.

Girls’ education is a particular target: in early 2009, right after the Taliban took control of the Swat valley in KP province, they “banned girls’ schooling outright, forcing 900 colleges to shut or quit enrolment for female pupils”. While the rule was later relaxed to allow women to attend college up to age ten, in Swat district alone, about 120,000 girls and 8,000 ladies teachers stopped going to school.

The Taliban campaign towards training has been “alarmingly efficient”, the report concludes: hundreds of thousands of children have been bombed or terrorised out of school, even though violence towards teachers has had a devastating result on recruitment. In accordance to the International Crisis Group, far more than 9 million Pakistani youngsters are not currently getting a main or secondary education. The country’s personal Human Rights Commission concedes it has the second-largest proportion of kids not attending school in the globe following Nigeria. The massacre at Peshawar Army Public college will not help.

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