Peshawar school reopens for first time since Taliban massacre
Peshawar: Traumatised students of an army-run school here hit by Pakistan's worst terror attack returned to school as thousands of educational institutions today reopened across the country after an unusually long winter break, extended for 12 days due to threat of militants.
The schools which were able to fulfill the criteria set by the government were issued no-objection certificates (NOCs) whereas some institutions which failed to make arrangements such as installation of CCTV cameras and higher boundary walls across the campus boundaries were not issued NOCs.
Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif along with his wife visited the Army Public School (APS) here and met children at the gate of the school which was attacked by the Taliban militants.
The militants killed 150 people, including 134 students, on December 16, during a 7-hour siege, leading to closure of educational institutions across Pakistan.
A tweet by army spokesperson, Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, said Gen Raheel joined the students in the morning assembly. "Standing proudly to sing national anthem," Bajwa said. About 20 soldiers were seen at the main entry point of the APS in the morning, with an airport-style security gate installed at the front.
Elevated boundary walls with steel wire fencing were also put in place around Peshawar and in schools throughout the rest of the country. The APS management said that psychological counselling sessions would be given to staff and students till January 17,
whereas regular academic session would begin from January 19.
The winter break in schools across Pakistan was extended for 12 days in the aftermath of the Taliban attack on APS. Strict security arrangements were seen in place for the re-opening of schools. Pakistan has asked all schools to increase security and install CCTV cameras as the educational institutions are still at threat.
Senior Superintended of Police Mian Mohammad Saeed said that officials had inspected 1,440 schools in Peshawar. Out of these, only 118 schools were given NOCs, he said. Security arrangements at 1,380 schools are not satisfactory, he said, adding that such schools had been issued a security advisory.
Some key education institutions also remained shut today. Among them was also the prestigious Atchison School and College in Lahore which was closed soon after it reopened.
Governor Punjab Muhammad Sarwar expressed displeasure at the lack of security of key the important institution during his visit to the college in Lahore.
The students at the army-run school were excited to see the army chief amidst them on the very first day of the session. Student Zahid Ayub who survived the deadly attack told reporters that he was not scared to attend the school and came to this prestigious institution to continue his studies from where it was left behind.
"I have come to my school to tell the attackers that we are not afraid of you," Ayub said, adding, terrorist attacks on innocent students and teachers could not shake our resolve for knowledge and education.
Likewise, a number of other survivors of the December 16 attack expressed the same strong resolve and determination, vowing to continue their education and play a constructive role in the progress and development of their country.