A collage showing various girls' schools that were set on fire overnight. ─ Photo by author
A collage showing various girls' schools that were set on fire overnight. ─ Photo by author

Unidentified assailants burned down at least 12 schools in Gilgit-Baltistan's Diamer district late on Thursday night and fled, causing panic among residents, locals and police said.

A school in Darel that was set on fire overnight. ─ Photo by author
A school in Darel that was set on fire overnight. ─ Photo by author

Diamer Superintendent Police (SP) Roy Ajmal told Dawn that police had so far received information that 12 schools ─ at least half of which are girls-only schools ─ had been set on fire overnight. He said that in some cases, books had also been thrown outside the schools and set alight.

Local police officer Mohammad Bashir said the attacks on schools took place before dawn on Friday near Chilas, but there were no casualties as the schools were closed at the time.

Police teams have been dispatched to investigate the reports, SP Ajmal said, adding that no one has claimed responsibility for the incidents as yet.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan has condemned the attack on schools and promised that his party will implement its agenda to ensure the provision of quality education across the country.

The PTI chief said that girls’ education is an integral part of the upcoming government’s policies.

The schools, which are spread across Diamer, were identified as:

Some of the schools appear to also have been vandalised. ─ Photo courtesy Geo News
Some of the schools appear to also have been vandalised. ─ Photo courtesy Geo News

  • Girls Primary School located in Ronay, Chilas
  • Girls School Takya
  • Social Action Programme (SAP) Primary School in Hudur area
  • Army Public School, Darel Tehsil
  • Primary School in Tabor village of Darel Valley,
  • SAP Primary School in Tabor, Darel
  • APS in Tangir Valley (adjacent to Diamer, sharing borders with Kohistan district of KP)
  • Girls Primary School Sheegay Manikal, Darel Valley
  • Girls Primary School Galee Bala, Tangir Valley
  • Primary School Galee Bala, Tangir Valley
  • Girls Primary School Khanbary
  • Girls Primary School Gyal Village
A school in Darel that was set on fire. ─ Photo by author
A school in Darel that was set on fire. ─ Photo by author

Local residents and journalists said they had heard explosions in GPS Ronay and Girls School Takya, but police did not mention receiving reports about blasts.

The Diamer Youth Movement called for a protest in Chilas, the district headquarters, against the targeting of education institutions in the district.

Later in the day, locals held a protest rally in Chilas against the torching of schools and demanded that the police arrest the culprits immediately. They raised the slogans of "Pak Army zindabad!" [Long live Pak Army!] and "Dehshatgard murdabad!" [death to terrorists!]

'No arrests made so far'

Commissioner of Diamer, Syed Abdul Waheed Shah, told DawnNewsTV no arrests have been made so far. He said police were investigating the incident and a first information report (FIR) would be registered.

The commissioner revealed that attempts were made to blow up two schools using explosives, while 11 schools were set on fire.

There are no Taliban militants in the area, however, extremists who oppose female education are present, Shah disclosed.

This is the not the first time schools have come under attack in Diamer. Girls' schools, in particular, were targeted, allegedly by extremists, in 2004 and 2011.

Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Rehman Malik took notice of the incidents and asked the Baltistan chief secretary to furnish a report on the matter. He said that those found involved would be severely punished.

The schools were built to promote education in Diamer district, which has the lowest literacy rates for boys and girls in GB.

According to Alif Ailaan's Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017, GB received a score of 63.18, placing at fourth place out of eight Pakistan territories ─ above Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas ─ with respect to quality of education.

Diamer is the lowest-ranking district in terms of quality of education in GB, with a score of 36.37, and among the 10 lowest-ranking districts in Pakistan.

There are 244 government schools in the district, about 83 per cent of which are primary level, 10.6pc middle schools and 6pc high schools. There are no higher secondary schools in the district. Of the total number of government schools, 156 are boys schools, while 88 are girls schools, according to Alif Ailaan.

Of the 16,800 students enrolled in government schools, only 20pc or 3,479 are girls.


With additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar in Islamabad and Sirajuddin in Peshawar.

Opinion

Press and power
25 Sep 2021

Press and power

None used the press so brazenly as the Modi government.
Once upon a Taliban
Updated 25 Sep 2021

Once upon a Taliban

Something, somewhere is terribly wrong with how this story is unfolding.
Foundation of healthcare
24 Sep 2021

Foundation of healthcare

Primary healthcare is as much for healthy individuals as it for those suffering from ill health.

Editorial

25 Sep 2021

NAB controversy

THE completion of the four-year term of NAB chairman Javed Iqbal early next month has afforded Prime Minister Imran...
Cabinet ‘inclusivity’
Updated 25 Sep 2021

Cabinet ‘inclusivity’

Voices are being raised questioning when the much-hyped inclusivity the group had talked about will materialise.
25 Sep 2021

Quorum malady

LACK of quorum has become a chronic problem for the present National Assembly which is in the process of becoming a...
24 Sep 2021

Costs of growth

IS Pakistan’s growth party over? Not yet. But both the State Bank and government are now cutting down on the items...
Smear campaign
Updated 24 Sep 2021

Smear campaign

It is commendable that the government has taken the matter as seriously as it has, and delved deep into cyber investigations.
24 Sep 2021

Rising dengue cases

THE dengue monster is once again rearing its head in different cities of Punjab. More than 820 cases have surfaced ...