Daylife/AP Photo by Sherin Zada
Pakistani fighters have blown up five schools in the northwestern Swat valley, just hours after government officials pledged to reopen schools closed due to the fear of attacks.
“Four boys’ schools and one girls’ school were blown up by militants,” said Anwer Khan, a district police official in the town of Mingora. “No one was injured in the bombings, but the school buildings were badly damaged.”
There were no pupils at the schools at the time of the attacks as they were closed for the winter holidays.
Followers of Maulana Fazlullah, a local leader who has reportedly has links to Pakistan’s Taliban movement, have destroyed 173 schools, 105 of them for girls, since security forces launched a military operation in the region in 2007, according to Sher Afzal, an education ministry official.
Local pro-Taliban fighters see the schools as symbols of government authority and have accused the army of posting soldiers in them.
Shaukat Yousafzai, a senior government official in Swat, said teachers were refusing to work. “I try to convince them but they’re scared. They doubt the government’s ability to protect them,” he said. “If they’re destroying schools during a curfew, they can do anything. Even if the authorities announce schools are open, nobody will go and parents won’t send their kids.”
Sooner or later, the army and police that the Pakistan government has supposedly spent billions of Aid dollars to build and train – will have to start behaving like genuine soldiers and coppers. Of course that also requires moving some officials into the line of fire, as well.