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How echoes of conflict affect education

The Pakistani state and TTP have been embroiled in conflict since 2007. Since then, there have been periods of peace and severe combat. One of the incidents that paved the way for the Pakistani military to launch an operation against TTP was the APS attack on 16th December 2014. The attack, carried out by six TTP members, re

sulted in the death of 149 people, of whom 132 were schoolchildren. This attack occurred in Peshawar; however, its echoes were heard throughout the country. In Lahore, I was a class 8 student five hundred kilometers away from the attack. The day after the attack, I remember standing in my school's morning assembly, where the headmistress announced that our school would be closed till further notice. My school was not the only one closing.

Schools throughout the country had closed till further notice. It was late January when we were finally allowed to go back to school. However, my first day back is something I can never forget. My school building was now covered in barbed wire. There were two armed men at each entrance and several on the rooftop. We had to go through a metal detector in order to enter the building, and each of our bags was checked before we were allowed in. The physical changes were not the only thing that was different. Even the air felt different - tense. My school did not feel like a school anymore - it felt like an attack waiting to happen. I remember a girl crying because it all felt too overwhelming, and she was afraid to be in school, afraid that her fate would be like the 132 who were mercilessly killed weeks ago.

So, despite being a substantial distance away from conflict - I heard the echoes of the conflict.

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Well written. It has been been 8 years since this conflict but I think it is safe to say that its echoes are still heard. I still remember the day of the attack. I was in school giving my final examination when the head mistress made an announcement on the speakers that examinations for all students have been cancelled and parents were on their way to pick up everyone. Living in Karachi it was a norm for schools to shutdown in the middle of the day as if the circumstances of the city deteriorated. Everyone in the examination hall was happy on the cancellation of the exams as none of us could have imagined such a tragedy. It was only…


The echoes of this attack were definitely heard all over the country. I vividly remember waking up in the evening to find out about it and simply not knowing how to feel. The news was so shocking and unreal that I couldn't even process it for a while. I used to be that naive kid who'd never really do anything on social media, thinking that it would bear no effect, but it hardly took me one second to change my DP to a black picture after this incident. My mid-term exams got canceled, and we had to go to Umrah during those winter vacations; prepping and buying new things didn't sit very well with me. When we went to bu…


The impact of this attack was surely felt all across the country. Living in Islamabad, I remember we were having our exams during the time of the attack and when students came to school after the incident, many of them shared stories about how studying had now become a difficult task. I personally recall not being able to concentrate on my studies as the attack was the only topic of conversation around me and as a 13-year-old child this greatly hampered my ability to focus. There is no doubt a significant psychological impact that conflict within educational settings has on children who although have not directly experienced it, but constantly hear about it around them.


The impact left by this attack can still be seen today. The changes in school policing that you have mentioned were drastic changes then but have now become the new normal. Children who now go to schools only know a system where there are armed guards, barbed wires, and high walls, things that are very normal for them. Foucault’s comparison between schools and prisons perhaps becomes even more relevant here, with this system of high security being integrated into our education system. In fact, my elder cousin tells me how back in the early 2000’s, entering into LUMS was simple and required no massive security checks. It was as simple as just coming and going. And while I do not…


Thank you for sharing your experience.

I faced something similar. I hail from Karachi and echoes of conflict affected students several miles away from where the conflict took place.

We would have emergency drills where the teachers prepared us how to deal with an attack. As a 7th grader, this was so overwhelming to witness. Being taught how to leave everything in the table in the middle of your classes when you hear an alarm (or a gunshot) was traumatising. We were taught where to hide and how to keep safe as well.

Looking back I think about how overwhelming this was as an experience. I did not need to know this as a seventh grader. I also remember increased…

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