Afghan police arming schoolteachers and university lecturers to protect against terrorist attacks

2 Feb , 2015  

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Since the Taliban massacred 150 people at a Peshawar school in December, the Afghan police are teaching teachers how to use guns to protect their students and themselves.  The CPRC has recently discussed the benefits of letting civilians rather than uniformed police or soldiers to defend targets.  From the New York Times:

. . . Ms. Bibi was one of eight lecturers from the Frontier College for Women, a postgraduate college, who attended a two-day firearms course at the provincial police firing range last week.

They learned to load, aim and fire weapons ranging from pistols to assault rifles; they also discussed self-defense techniques, and how to defend their students if the Taliban stormed in during class.

“The December 16 tragedy showed us that we need to learn to be able to take care of ourselves and our students,” said Naheed Hussain, an assistant professor, who took the course while still wearing her black teaching robe. “We will not replace our pens with guns. But the situation could arise where we are required to serve our country.”. . .

Gun ownership is common across northwestern Pakistan, which is largely populated by ethnic Pashtuns and includes the restive tribal districts. But the advent of armed teachers has made uneasy many parents, who say it is the responsibility of the state, and not teachers, to protect schools and universities. . . .

“How can we teach with a gun in one hand and a book in another?” asked Malik Khalid Khan, president of the All Primary Schools Teachers Association.

Abaseen Yusufzai, head of the Pashto department at Islamic College University, said, “This is the stupidest and most illogical thing that has happened in Pashtun society in living memory.”. . .

the government was redirecting $15 million in government money earmarked for school sanitary facilities and drinking water into the new security measures. . . .

“As I gripped the gun and opened fire I started to sweat, thinking I should have a pen in my hand and not a gun,” said Akhtar Nagina, a physics lecturer at the Frontier College for Women. “But then I remembered what the terrorists had done. And I figured I should at least have a gun in my purse, for my own protection.”

A Fox News piece doesn’t have convey as much anguish over the decision to arm teachers.

. . . . But for teachers like 37-year-old Tabinda, going to work unarmed no longer feels like an option. She and 10 other female teachers at the Frontier College for Women are taking pride in their newfound marksmanship with handguns, and plan to carry them to help protect their students aged 16 to 21.

Asked whether she felt confident of killing a terrorist at her school, Tabinda was emphatic in reply: “Yes. Whoever kills innocents, God willing I will shoot them.”

Mushtuq Ghani, the higher education minister in the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government based in Peshawar, says its Cabinet supports the arming of teachers as a logical measure given the reality that the region’s 65,000 police are stretched too thin to provide a first line of defense to nearly 50,000 schools. Terrorists need to know that schools aren’t defenseless, and armed teachers could potentially hold off gunmen and buy time for police reinforcements to arrive, he said. Teachers would need to provide their own legally licensed firearms, which many already possess to defend their homes.

“We’re at war,” he said.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed tens of thousands over the past decade as it seeks to overthrow the government and impose its own harsh brand of Islam. . . . .

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