PESHAWAR: “I am holding a gun for the first time in my life,” said associate professor of the Frontier Girls’ College Peshawar Shabnam, who is in her early 40s.
She was holding a semi-automatic gun and listening carefully to the instructor.
Around a dozen teachers wearing black-scholarly gowns gathered around a table on which different types of small arms lied. The instructor briefed them about each one of them.
“Is there a need for a teacher to learn to use a gun is what the Army Public School and College attack has made us think about it,” said Shabnam, who has already applied for an arm’s licence after the government announced teachers should apply for arms licence and buy weapons for themselves.
Shabnam was among Frontier Girls’ College female teachers, who had seen weapons but never used them in life before.
They all were taking part in a security workshop organised by the police department at the Police Lines’ firing range here on Tuesday.
Senior superintendent of police (operations) Mian Saeed told Dawn that the security workshops were voluntarily organised by the provincial police for those who had requested for training on how to use arms for self-defence.
Until now, 10 educational institutions have requested the police for such training sessions, the official said, adding that the security training will continue as long as there is need for it.
The Frontier Girls’ College teachers would be getting a weeklong training on the use of pistol and Kalashnikov, whereas earlier guards of various schools had undergone training session at the Police Lines on how to use these arms, he said.
Many women held gun for the first time in life
After a terrorist attack on the Army Public School and College Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014, the provincial government issued special security guidelines to the schools, colleges and universities.
Although guards were required to keep guns, teachers showed seriousness in getting trained on how to use a gun in case ‘they need to defend the children’ in a untoward scenario.
“God forbid, if a situation like APS attack arises, we need to be a little trained in use of guns,” said Naheed Hussain, a burqa-clad young teacher wearing her college gown and holding a gun in her hand.
“Today reminded me of our NCC (National Cadet Course) training day. That was a day students enjoyed. This is different. These are serious times,” said assistant professor Hussain, who seemed convinced that learning to use a gun for self-defence is not a bad idea.
She said even her first-year students often discussed with her how they should respond if such a situation arose.
“I feel my students have matured earlier due to the acts of terrorism in recent years so they do talk about such scenarios,” said Ms Hussain.
A number of middle-aged teachers practicing using pistols seemed eager to fire shots but the instructor who taught them how to hold and load a gun and take the right aiming position told them to practice on to get used to the gun.
“It is perhaps for the first time I am teaching teachers to use guns,” said Inspector Latif of Anti-Terrorist Squad, who told teachers about pistols, loading magazines, firing and self-defence techniques, and protecting students.
He seemed impressed with the way female teachers took keen interest in the learning sessions.
Anila Naz, an inspector, who was also helping female teachers with the use of guns, said women should know about the use of guns as it was need of the hour.
“Mosques, markets, schools and colleges nowhere is safe these days, so self-defence training is a must,” she said.
Published in Dawn January 28th, 2015