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The Attack On Education in Pakistan

We all have heard of violent attacks committed by extremist groups in Pakistan and the national uproar which follows. But rarely do we pay attention and notice how there is common pattern of targeting educational institutions and innocent children. The sad reality is that there was an estimated total of 838 attacks on schools in Pakistan between the years 2009-2012. One may wonder have we, as a nation, gotten desensitised to the torture which is inflicted on the youth. The question stands why are educational institutions being targeted by Terrorist groups and why does the younger generation have to pay the price for years and years of contention?


Pakistan, as a nation, has experienced one of the most atrocious hits on educational institutions. One of the many instances which come to any of our minds would be the deadliest and most unfortunate APS attack. The reason behind these attacks could be termed as something plain and simple as educational institutions being ‘Soft Targets’ since schools have less security and large number of people congregating leading to mass casualties. But is this really the main factor why several terrorist attacks target schools?

In most Tribal areas of Pakistan, the public schools symbolise the state and since Talibans have declared war on the state, the schools become easy prey as schools are seen as extensions of the state. However, in my opinion the motive behind targeting educational institutions is much deeper and perhaps ideological.

In my opinion, these attacks on educational institutions are driven by ideological opposition as the terrorist groups view Western Education as corrupting influences deviating from their interpretation of faith. In Pakistan, these groups may see schools as promoting secular fundamentals. This in-built hatred they have for the western schooling system is ignited by their belief that it is contrary to God’s commandments. They may believe these schools promote western thinking and make children drift away from religious education. Education as a Human right and Women rights along with democracy promoting peace are viewed as anti-islamic ‘liberal’ values. The end goal of these groups could be ideological hegemony to attain a monopoly on the minds of the future generations. Although it is hard to distinguish between the various reasons behind terrorist attacks on schools and the ones driven by ideological motive however this mindset is evident in many extremist terrorist groups. Hence these attacks are not only on the lives of innocent children but the entire ideology which encompasses the western education system and children unfortunately have had to pay the price with their lives.


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I think you have raised valid points. I do agree with your point of view. But suppose this is the reason behind the attacks on educational sectors. Why are there not many incidents of attacks on the so-called western school systems like Beaconhouse, LGS, Roots, etc. why are the Govt. schools near the border areas or army-affiliated schools (Like APS) or the schools present in the conflicted zone being targeted more?

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You have raised a very good point which I believe is quite correct but to an extent. Perhaps these schools are not targetted because they are not easy prey and have more security. Meanwhile other schools may be easier target however, there are several reasons behind educational institutes being targeted. I was only speaking on behalf of one facet but there could be many more.

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A very important blog! I personally feel that education in Pakistan, especially by the extremists/taliban, is considered as a “Yahoodi Sazish”. Formal Education for them is like a war against Islam and hence they try to demean and oppose it. Another reason could be that these militant groups just want us to remain uneducated. Because if we get educated and become empowered and gain awareness of what is right and what is wrong, we may start to crictically think about their ideologies, methods, and morality of these groups and hence become a threat to their legitimacy - which they obviously don’t want. Lastly, I feel that any education except the religious education is not tolerated by them. For them, even a…

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I completely agree with you but then I wonder what role Pakistan can take to prevent this attack on educational institutes. Securing schools has been largely left to the provincial governments, and these efforts have been sporadic and vary across provinces, with little attention to the specific need to protect girls’ education. In most cases, responsibility for enhancing and maintaining security has been passed to school authorities. This has led to increased hardship and chaos. Criminal cases have sometimes been filed against teachers and principals for not taking security measures. Hence the entire trajectory is quite unfortunate and not dealt with effectively.


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Very valid arguments. These targeted attacks on schools only show how important education is in the lives of these children because they urge them to think for themselves and thus, not fall into the trap of such groups. It is only because schools are so threatening to every extremist, totalitarian leader that they are specifically made sites of such violence.

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I completely agree with you, the fact that education provides these children with an avenue to critically think out the box is seen as a threat to these extremist groups. Education plays an integral role in helping the youth develop their world views and feeling threatened by these extremists is a great barrier to education.

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You have raised some interesting points. Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group in Nigeria, is known as the 'Nigerian Taliban' and holds very similar views and ideology to the ones you talked about in this blog. They reject Western education as they believe it goes against the teachings of Islam and their aim is to 'purify' Islam in Nigeria. Their methods of inflicting violence are quite similar to that of the Taliban, including suicide bombing, attacks in schools, etc (hence the name Nigerian Taliban).

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I personally believe it is absurd to target children and lay attacks on schools due to this ideology of Anti-islamic values. Values such as fundamental human rights which prevents humans from being oppressed are thought of as western indoctrination. I fail to understand how targeting children would purify Islam and stop the spread of western education?

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Ahmad Rana
Ahmad Rana
Jul 02, 2022

An interesting take on the topic! While I think these are some great points, there's also another perspective and reason for the attacks. These attacks were not just completely based on anti-western agenda. Some of these attacks were purely revenge based especially the APS Peshawar attack in 2016. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed the responsibility for that attack and said that it was revenge for the anti-Taliban operation Zarb-e-Azb in which hundreds of Taliban families died including children.

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Yes, there are several reasons behind educational institutions being targeted. However, it does not go unnoticed how sad the reality is that schools and innocent children need to face the brunt of the conflict.

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