Pakistan: Bombs damage buildings of two girls' schools
In different areas of Swat, there has been a surge in recent days in attacks on video and CD shops, hair-cutting salons, internet cafes and girls’ schools. On Sept 9, a missionary institution for women, the Sangota Public School, was closed for a week after it received threats from an organisation called Janesaran-i-Islam, accusing the school administration of propagating Christianity and obscenity.
The same organisation also issued letters to a number of other schools asking students to wear burqa. It said that the English education system was against Islamic teachings and schools should abandon the system.
Following the threats, the education department issued a circular a few days ago, making the wearing of burqa mandatory for girl students.
Recently, a string of explosions damaged some schools, including the Government Girls’ High School in Matta and the Government Girls Primary School in the Bedara area. An explosive device planted in the Government Girls High School in Qambar was defused by police a few days ago.
Students of girls schools are in a state of fear and in some cases people have stopped sending their daughters to schools.
Militants have also been targeting a rock engraved with a historical Buddha image along the road connecting Mingora with the tourist resort of Malam Jabba. They have twice tried to blow up the rock at Buthgarh Jehanabad.
The administration has decided to set up checkpoints at three sensitive places. The posts will be manned jointly by army and police personnel. A police official said the government had started providing heavy weapons to police. Police have also been given five Armoured Personnel Carriers and four more will be delivered in a few days.
By: Hameedullah Khan
30 September 2007
(I) The News: 02 October 2007
PESHAWAR: Almost all the girl schools at Lakaro sub-division of Mohmand Agency remained closed on Monday after the killing of one lady teacher by unknown miscreants and inability of the political administration to provide security to women staffers in the wake of threats to them.
Non-local teachers, who were more than 50 in number reached Ghalanai, but they failed to proceed to their schools for security concern. They instead approached the office of political agent to seek security, but they were told that the political agent was off for Peshawar in connection with his official duty.
They then visited the office of agency education officer and met him. The education officer assured them that he would take up the issue with the political agent and would try his level best to make security arrangements for the female teachers particularly the non-local ones. Some ten days ago the girl schools in Lakaro had received threatening letters from local Taliban warning them to avoid coming to school. Later, they were asked to perform their duties clad in Burqas. Majority of the teachers stopped performing their duties and the schools remained closed. On the other hand the political administration claimed that no school anywhere in the agency was closed.
However, the political authorities ignored the threats and avoided taking security measures for protection of the female teachers, which resulted in the tragic killing of one teacher, Khatoon Bibi, resident of Utmanzai, Charsadda. Khatoon was killed at Ghazi Beg area very near to levy check post. The security forces remained unmoved to protect the teacher or chase the assailants.
The incident caused a wave of fear among the teachers particularly the non-local ones. It is worth mentioning that due to lack of educated women in the agency a majority of the females teaching in the agency come from settled areas particularly Charsadda and Mardan districts. Sources told The News that there are about 15 primary and two middle schools for girls in Lakaro sub-division, while around 120 primary, some 15 middle and three high schools for women in the entire agency. As per the education office statistics the total number of educational institutions both for male and female in the agency are 565, which include three degree college, 363 primary schools, 65 middle schools, 24 high and two higher secondary schools.
Meanwhile a grand jirga of Haleemzai tribes held in the agency to protest the killing of the woman teacher.
(II) Daily Times: 02 October 2007
GHALANAI: Hundreds of women staged a protest in front of the agency education office in Mohmand Agency headquarters Ghalanai on Monday against the threats received by female teachers in the area.
The female teachers said that two days ago, unidentified people killed one of their colleagues when she was returning home after school on Saturday.
The protestors asked the administration to protect the female workers, especially teachers, and said they would not attend school till they were assured of security. The boycott of women teachers meant many schools in Safi, Haleemzai, and Khuvezai tehsils were closed
The political administration arrested four members of the Gazi Baig tribe in addition to confiscating the tribe's seven vehicles in the teacher's killing case. The tribal authorities also banned the incentives received by the Gazi Baig and Ibrahim Kor tribes.
Meanwhile participants at a jirga of Haleemzai elders held in Ghalanai decided to hold a grand jirga of Safi and Haleemzai tribesmen on October 4 to discuss security issues.
Girls' schools closed: The administrations of eight schools in Aka Maroof and Sartilgram union councils have closed their schools for an indefinite period following a bomb attack on a girls' higher secondary school in the Kabal area of Swat.
The school administrations verbally told girl students not to come to school. Education Department officials expressed ignorance about the schools' closure, saying the department had issued no such orders and would inquire into the matter.
Separately, around 100 people carrying weapons marched in Kabal bazaar and forcibly entered houses to bar residents from playing music. They warned the residents not to play music or they would break their television sets, radios and music players. They asked the residents to cooperate in rooting out "obscenity" from the area.