Taliban’s Attack on Pakistan Education Goes Beyond One Girl
Under a torrid sun on a parched patch of dirt, 65 young boys and girls wiped sweat from their foreheads and struggled to concentrate on their studies. There were no blackboards, no desks.
Nearby, their white two-room country school sat abandoned, shrapnel holes gouged into the exterior. The roof and walls had cracked, making the building too dangerous to use — the result of a homemade bomb detonated by the Taliban on the school’s porch.
“Everything was fine here,” said 9-year-old Fazl Qadeem, squatting on the ground with his lesson book in hand. “And they destroyed it.”
The Taliban outraged millions of Pakistanis and people around the world this month when its gunmen attempted to kill Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl who publicly championed the education of girls. But that attack was just one small piece of a long campaign against the country’s education system.
School buildings like the one in Swabi are blown up with astonishing regularity: 96 were damaged or destroyed by militants this year, according to Human Rights Watch, a rate of more than two per week. Last year, 152 schools were hit. Militants have targeted school buses, teachers, headmasters, even a provincial education minister.
The damage is palpable and far-reaching, especially in northwestern Pakistan, where the Taliban maintains its nerve centers.