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Teachers in one Pakistan province trained to use firearms

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, educators to be last line of defense against terrorist attacks

Teachers in one Pakistan province trained to use firearms

Teachers receive training on how to use firearms in Peshawar this week (Credit: ucanews.com)

Published: January 28, 2015 10:24 AM GMT

Updated: April 21, 2015 07:12 PM GMT

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack that targeted a school, the government of Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has launched a controversial program that trains teachers how to use firearms.

At a police barracks in Peshawar this week, nine teachers and lecturers from a local girls’ school picked up rifles and pistols, often for the first time, with the aim of learning how to shoot an armed intruder.

Zaman Khan, a 45-year-old law lecturer at Frontiers Girls College, had never fired a gun before. She described the training program as being “very beneficial”.

“It gives me great satisfaction that I am being trained to protect our college,” she said. “We cannot surrender before militants. It is not an option. We have to stand up against terrorism.”

Khan’s unlikely transition from teacher to armed educator was spurred by December’s Taliban massacre at a school in Peshawar. Gunmen linked to the Pakistani Taliban entered an army-run school in the city and opened fire in a devastating attack that made international headlines. The majority of the more than 140 victims were children.

By training teachers to use guns, the government is effectively making them the last line of defense in potential future attacks, which has officials with the provincial teachers’ union raising the alarm.

“Our job is to educate students. It is the duty of government and law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of schools,” Malik Azizullah, provincial chief of the union, told ucanews.com.

“What are we going to teach our students by carrying arms in our hands? … More than 5,000 primary schools in the province are without any boundary walls. The government should shift its focus on these issues.”

But the province’s information minister, Mushtaq Ghani, defended the decision, saying that December’s horrific attack had produced an emergency situation.

“We are not forcing anybody to get the training or carry arms,” he said.

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