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.