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Pakistan must take urgent steps to protect students, teachers: HRW

Published Oct 19, 2012 07:24am

Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch— Photo by Malik Siraj Akbar

ISLAMABAD: The Government of Pakistan needs to take immediate step to protect all those facing risk of attacks including  schools, teachers, students and rights activists, according to a statement issued by the Human Rights Watch on Friday.

The organisation also appealed to Taliban, al Qaeda and it's affiliates to stop attacks targeting children, schools and educationists.

According to the Human Rights Watch, the Pakistan army should also refrain from turning schools into targets by using them as bases.

The statement was based on a collection of reports on 96 school attacks that took place in Pakistan this year alone, where as the United Nations had reported 153 such incidents in 2011.

“Parts of Pakistan are among the most dangerous places in the world to go to school today,” according to Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s time Pakistani authorities understand that expressions of outrage alone are inadequate and such attacks will only end if they hold abusers accountable.”

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacked Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old student and outspoken advocate for children’s right to education, shooting her in the head and neck on October 9, 2012, leaving her in critical condition. The attack received condemnation from across international spectrum and the local political spectrum in Pakistan.

“The unity of global condemnation and the speed of response in the wake of Malala’s shooting were phenomenal, but we need to see the same kind of reaction every time a student or school is attacked,” Hasan said. “The schools that have remained for years as piles of rubble across Pakistan’s north-west bring into question the government’s level of commitment to seeing children return to school in safety.”

“This is more than just the case of the shooting of one brave girl, but a crisis for the entire Pakistani education system,” Hasan said. “It is time Pakistani authorities understood that those who seek to harm students and teachers wish to rob Pakistan of its future.”