PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Monday decided to allow employees of all educational institutions, including teachers, to carry licensed arms on the premises to respond fittingly in case of a terrorist attack.

“The provincial cabinet has decided to allow teachers and other staff members to keep their licensed weapons with them so that in case of any eventuality they could engage attackers for initial five to 10 minutes before personnel of law-enforcement agencies will show up to respond to the attack,” provincial information minister Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

Ghani said the cabinet, which met with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in the chair, took several decisions for ensuring foolproof security at educational institutions in the province.

He said educational institutions had been told not to reopen campuses unless they fully carried out the government’s security guidelines.

Minister says weapons to help employees engage attackers until security personnel show up

“Strict action will be taken against all those schools, which reopened without taking the suggested security measures, including installation of CCTV cameras, deployment of more guards, and the fixing of barbed or razor wires on boundary walls,” he said.

According to him, the cabinet eulogised the sacrifices of the Army Public School Peshawar students and staff members and directed the education department to inform it about the top government schools so that they could be named after those who were killed in the Dec 16 attack.

Ghani said there were around 65,000 policemen in the province and it was impossible for them to provide security to every school and therefore, the government had opted for community policing.

“We have asked educational institutions to hire services of retired personnel of armed forces from within the community,” he said.

The minister said the province had around 18,500 registered government and 8,000 private schools and in addition to them, from 8,000 to 10,000 unregistered schools operated in the province. “We have directed all educational boards in the province to register unregistered schools within a month. No educational institution will be permitted to charge security fee from students as it is the educational institutions’ responsibility to provide security to students on the premises,” he said.

Ghani said apart from the security of educational institutions, the cabinet was also briefed about the security of markets, hospitals and other public places and that it was decided that community policing would be introduced there too.

He said in the morning, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak along with him and elementary education minister visited several schools in the city and checked security arrangements.

The minister said the chief minister had directed all ministers and MPAs to visit schools in their respective areas to ensure that the security standard operating procedures are strictly followed.

He said the cabinet also approved the provision of stipend at rate of Rs24,000 per annum to unemployed degree holders, who had completed 16 years of education or had got religious education at seminaries.

Ghani said 5,217 applications were received for the purpose and after scrutiny, 3,720 applicants were declared qualified.

He said investigation into the Army Public School carnage had almost been completed and that masterminds behind it along with its perpetrators had been identified.

The minister said masterminds behind the attack were hiding in Afghanistan and therefore, Islamabad should ensure that Kabul arrest them and hand them over to it otherwise it should take steps for catching them on Afghan soil.

He said the government would send cases to the special military courts to be set up in the province in accordance with the constitutional amendment passed by parliament.

Ghani said the existing judicial system was unable to cope with the situation and therefore, it was expected that the special courts would decide cases of terrorism expeditiously.

BILLS APPROVED: The minister said the cabinet also approved the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Universities (Amendment) Bill 2015 proposing changes in the existing law to reduce the tenure of vice chancellor of public sector universities

Govt allows teachers, staff carry arms in schools from four years to three years.

He said the amendment also provided for the sending of a government university’s vice chancellor on forced leave for 90 days.

Ghani said the cabinet approved three bills related to labourers, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bonded Labour Abolition Bill, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shops and Other Establishments Bill.

He said the cabinet approved the creation of a joint board for the Sarhad Development Authority and Small Industrial Development Board and that it would formulate a policy and master plan for the merger of two bodies.

The minister said the cabinet also decided to name a bridge in Ustarzai Payan village after Lieutenant Wajihullah Khan, who had died during an operation against militants in Khyber Agency.

He also called upon the federal government to pay around Rs300 billion dues to the province on account of net profit on hydel power generation and the National Finance Commission Award saying his government will spend the money on improving security situation.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2015

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