Women’s education

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DISTURBING reports have emerged from Lower Dir regarding the possible reappearance of some extremist elements in the area. According to a report published in the media, a poster pasted outside the main gate of a women’s college in Samarbagh threatened students with death if they did not give up their pursuit of higher education. College officials attributed the poster to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan that opposes women’s education, although the group distanced itself from it. However, while it is difficult to confirm the identity of the perpetrators in this case, the incident should cause concern, for it shows that, despite the military operations that defeated the TTP and others of its ilk in KP including former Fata, extremist elements — whether groups or individuals — still lurk in the area, seeking to sow fear among the people and retard progress. Condemning the incident is not enough and those responsible for people’s security should be extra vigilant at a time when reports of sporadic attempts to threaten the public are emerging in several areas. Other reports have also emanated from Lower Dir of how radical elements have been putting up posters in mosques and madressahs calling for ‘jihad’ and the implementation of their interpretation of the Sharia.

The education of girls has been particularly targeted in the past, with hundreds of schools either blown up or closed down by the TTP that strongly opposed women’s education and issued frequent warnings to those who dared to defy its diktat and go to school, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai being the most well-known victim of its nefarious designs. Years of education have been lost and the authorities should immediately take steps to counter the extremists’ influence so that they are prevented from staging a comeback. Clerics in the area should also be taken on board to oppose such regressive instincts. Any attack on women’s education is an attack on education as a whole; women are, after all, equal partners and stakeholders in the progress of a nation.

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