Tuesday’s dastardly attack on a military school in Peshawar has put the government and security agencies on a ‘red alert’ regarding the security of students at the city’s military-related educational institutions, Pakistan Today has learnt.
This multi-ethnic financial capital of the country houses a number of military schools, colleges and academies like Army Public School (APS), Bahria Model School, PAF Karachi Institute of Economics and Technology, Pakistan Naval Academy, Pakistan Marine Academy and so on.
Affiliated with different federal boards, these institutions are imparting “quality education of international standards” to thousands of students having military and civilian parentage.
Killing at least 131 schoolchildren and 10 others, the country’s deadliest terrorist assault on Peshawar branch of the APS has left the parents here “more concerned” about the safety of their school-going children, especially those studying at schools associated with the armed forces military, an apparent potential target of the terrorists.
“We are concerned more than ever before,” said Naimat Khan, a journalist whose four-year old daughter, Hafsa Khan, is the student of nursery advance at one of the city’s navy schools.
Khan said after Peshawar massacre it was nothing but the safe homecoming of their daughter that was making him and his spouse heave in relief.
The journo said his son was studying in a private civilian school and the family was just thinking to admit him with Hafsa in the naval one. “Now, we are seriously thinking to do otherwise,” said Khan, who hails from Mardan district of PTI-ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The father of two responded in negative when asked if he was satisfied with security arrangements at the school his daughter was studying in.
Rukhsana and her retired naval officer husband Abdul Rahim also remain concerned about the safety of their three children, Hamza, Usama and Huzaifa, who study at FG School near Cantonment Railway Station.
“Yes it does haunt us,” said Rukhsana, a housewife. Further, social media is abuzz with the people raising questions like who was responsible for guarding the ill-fated army school in the terrorists-infested KPK province.
“Nobody asks Army who was responsible for Army Public School’s security?” Akhtar Shahab wrote on the facebook wall of APS’s Sadder campus.
The school ducked the query by posting that: “We cannot reply to queries regarding school activities. This is a fan page not official school page.”
According to Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, all relevant security agencies had been “sensitised” to the security of educational institutions, particularly those carrying names of armed forces.
“They have been sensitised more to the visible and invisible security arrangements at schools,” the commissioner told Pakistan Today.
Deeming it unadvisable to detail much of the arrangements made, Siddiqui said the same ranged from increased deployment of various forces at the potential targets to improved inter-organisational coordination on intelligence level.
“We remain in a close contact and keep alerting each other (to any potential danger),” the city commissioner said.
Further, Karachi police spokesman Inspector Atiq Ahmed Shaikh said his department was planning to introduce a “training package” for the schools in this violence-prone metropolis.
“We wish to involve the administration and children of the schools on how to deal with such an emergency,” he told Pakistan Today. Also, Inspector Atiq deems the all-important scouts’ culture important for training school children to face such emergencies.
Recently, law enforcers gunned down five TTP militants in the city. The incident, Atiq viewed, was a sign of law enforcers coming hard on terrorists in the wake of Peshawar carnage.
Additional IG Police Ghulam Qadir Thebo, he said, had ordered the law enforcers to scale up patrolling around the city schools.