DIAMER, Pakistan: Superintendent Police (SP) Diamer 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.
The schools, which are spread across Diamer, were identified as:
- 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
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 has called for a protest in Chilas, the district headquarters, against the targeting of education institutions in the district. 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 districts 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.