Islamabad: Barbed wire, surveillance cameras and snipers have become a common sight in the schools of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (KPK) in Pakistan. Private schools in this province, which lies along Pakistan’s northwest frontier, have been instructed by the government to arrange security guards and metal detectors.
School officials remain tight-lipped about the threats they have received from militants, but stories have emerged of empty coffins being sent to principals as an ominous signal of the danger that could lie ahead, CNN reported. This has come after the brutal Dec 16 attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the Army Public School in Peshawar that left over 140 students and staff dead.
After the attack, TTP spokesperson Mohammed Khurrassani said the bloodshed was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.
Last month, the provincial government pledged to spend Pakistani Rs 7 billion on enhancing security at government-run schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
However, KPK Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani says it is still not enough to prevent attacks on the 35,000 government-run schools in the province. So, in an extraordinary measure, the KPK government has allowed teachers with firearm licences to keep guns at school. At a shooting range in Peshawar, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police force has started basic weapons training sessions for teachers interested in learning how to use firearms. Faisal Mukhtar, a police superintendent, says that one of the reasons for arming teachers is that they can hold militants at bay during a potential attack until security forces arrive.
Around 20 female teachers have already received training from a police inspector. Most had never held a gun before. “The tragedy of Dec 16 has emboldened these women,” Altaf said. “Most of them were mothers and they were helpless then — they will never be helpless again.” Government authorities in Pakistan’s northwest frontier have given permission for teachers to carry concealed firearms in response to the December 16 attack in Peshawar that became one of the deadliest terrorist strikes in Pakistani history.