K-P schools, taking ‘guns’ into their own hands

Published: January 14, 2015
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Weapons in or near schools should simply not be allowed.

It is almost been a month since December 16, 2014. A new year has begun, the political diatribes are proceeding in full swing, the civil-military nexus is repeatedly flashed across screens, the debates on military courts and capital punishments are continuing, and this week, the schools have now reopened across Pakistan.

However, parents are asking the question: Are our children safe?

It is a terrible thing to ask that question. You are not sending your child to war; you are sending them to school. To sit and wonder whether terrorists will barge into your child’s school and indiscriminately kill innocent young human beings, to talk to little children about the threat of death and destruction, is a matter that says nothing but this – we are in a state of war.

It may not seem like that, with famous leaders getting married, famous politicians squabbling and morning show hosts still being happy at triggering hate speeches – but it is true. Pakistan has been long at war and December 16th was the blood-filled battle cry that jolted throughout the ears of the people of this country.

It is as if someone has pressed the panic button yet no one has any idea what to do. And in this state of chaos, anyone who seems to be coming up with any war plan is deemed as fit. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) decision of allowing arms within school premises is one such ill-schemed, ill-advised plan that is now effective. Instead of creating ways to ensure security measures, instead of preventing more arms and ammunition making their way near schools or installing equipment that ensures no weaponry is near, someone brilliant in the K-P administration has decided, “hey, let’s give them all guns!”.

A source who works at PAF City School has informed us that they recently received a ‘coffin’ due to which they increased their security by raising their walls and building walls around corridors and any entry points. It is imperative to mention here that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has not backed off – they claim that they will continue attacking Pakistan and its schools and that their next attack might be even bigger.

Does none of this sound familiar to K-P administration?

The threats, the warnings, the lax security measures – were these not similar conditions before the Peshawar school attack?

Now that the country’s leadership has taken a full throttle to go ahead on fighting against the TTP and there are open condemnations on many avenues, you want to add more guns in the mix?

Who would have thought that this would bring us to a debate on gun control in the country? At a point where the chances of violence need to be minimised, K-P government has decided to add a catalyst – give them more guns.

Countries like UK have low gun-related deaths because they have extremely strict gun control laws. Countries like US have high gun-related deaths because they have extremely trigger-happy gun-control laws. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. It doesn’t even reflect smart policy; it’s just what it is. The right to bear arms is a hot debate in the US because of the horrendous gun-related crimes that have occurred there in the past. While there is a strong gun-enthusiast lobby there that stops from passing strict gun control laws, there is hardly anyone stating that the people of the US should have more guns to protect themselves.

The administration’s logic is that the government is not equipped to deal with the security threat and was unable to provide for the safety of each and every school. This makes perfect sense because the government of Sindh placed all the responsibility on private schools, claiming that ‘they make more money, they can afford security measures’. In a similar stream of news, ‘mobile phones’ have been banned in schools in Sindh. The headless chicken scenario is unmistakable.

If community policing is what the government is suggesting, it could have been done in a much better way by creating a neighbourhood cell, a program that encourages citizens to participate in reporting suspicious activity anonymously. That doesn’t take money or infrastructure, it just takes initiative. You could have spent less amount on bakery items, dear K-P government, less money on diesel and protocol for dharnas and what not and spend the same money on police and security arrangements.

You could have brought security experts to guide schools, you could have tried encouraging schools to hire security firms at a better rate, you could have helped partial patrolling of school routes, and you could have taken a hard line on those schools that are unable to provide security measures for children. And instead of giving them deadlines, you could have shown seriousness by simply not letting them open.

When rats infest a restaurant, it’s time for that restaurant to close its doors and wrap up its business. When a school is unable to function, the government, given the conditions, can give strict ultimatums to ensure safety procedures or else, face closure or high penalty. Any of these measures could have helped in creating a better security situation for our children – anything but the proliferation of more weapons. Giving guns in the hands of school teachers and staff is nothing less than another disaster waiting to happen.

Weapons in or near schools should simply not be allowed. If the K-P government cannot provide civilian schools with adequate security then it must not allow them to go banana republic either.

Otherwise what’s next?

Shoot outs to settle scores?

Accidental misfire causing deaths?

Have they not thought this through?

Does this still not leave parents thinking: Are my children safe?

Mahwash.Badar.

Mahwash Badar

The author is a clinical psychologist, a mum to two boys and permanently in a state of flux. She tweets @mahwashajaz_ (twitter.com/mahwashajaz_)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Well you have twisted the news to match your thinking. I find that pretty deplorable.
    First of all let me clear something up.
    There is very very strong debate going in the USA whether arming their staff will save lives in case of a shootout or not. And the people who say that arming teachers is good are winning. “Concealed carry” is practiced by many people.
    Secondly I have no Idea where you get your gun facts , but the fact is that Switzerland has very lenient gun control and has the third-lowest homicide rate of the top nine major European countries. Almost EVERY household in switzerland has a gun cuz they let the soldiers keep weapons. Same is the case of Canada, no gun Laws, no Bans and very low crime.
    Thirdly on the flip side Brazil has mandatory licensing, registration, and maximum personal ownership quotas. It now bans any new sales to private citizens. Their homicide rate is almost three 3 or perhaps four times the USA and in the top tier around the world.
    Fourthly, My personal opinion is that teachers SHOULD carry in Pakistan. The security provided will always be inadequate. how many guards for a school? 5? 6? even if there are 10 they are less than needed. One burst of machine gunfire and they are out of the equation. And if there is no one else carrying then the bad guys can do as they please. But even if there is one single guy inside to resist they can be held off and their damage mitigated.Recommend

  • Prashant

    Mahwash it is not practically possible to give security to each and every school in a country, Pakistan needs to fight the ideology among the masses which has become the oxygen for these terrorists, when Pakistan says I will fight Fazlullah but see nothing wrong in Hafiz Saeed and Maulana Masood Azhar, it is a self defeating argument.Recommend

  • Anonymouse

    I agree, the author is writing about countries where the threat of terror attacks is significantly lower than that in Pakistan. The Possession of weapons in these countries is banned or controlled as they act as an instigator of violent or possibly lethal backlash from someone else who possesses a gun. However, the scenario changes once a person with a “kill or die trying” mindset walks in, unless they are stopped by force, having a gun or not will not change the fact that they will do what they set out to do i.e. kill on sight. Having armed teachers or retired army officers will definitely increase the chance of survival for their charges.

    The questions that need to be asked is how do you control those who hold the guns? where would they be kept? How secure are they? What is stopping from children or teachers going on a killing frenzy should madness possess them?Recommend

  • Fighter Man

    Kindly let us fight against Fazalullah and also Warn RAW to stop funding Fazalullah group.Recommend

  • Hugh Slaman

    What this author does not seem to realize is that in the United States, the gun-related deaths mostly happen in places where carrying guns is forbidden; this means that law-abiding citizens are easy targets for criminals in those environments..
    There have been many well-publicized school shootings in the USA. Such murderous rampages never happen where everyone knows that everyone else has a gun; they don’t happen at shooting ranges or gun conventions, for example.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahmad Khattak

    Otherwise what’s next?

    Shoot outs to settle scores?

    Accidental misfire causing deaths?

    Have they not thought this through?

    Does this still not leave parents thinking: Are my children safe?

    You do know that you’re talking about the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? We do shoot at each other to settle scores, accidental misfire is the leading cause of death in a surprisingly large number of villages and townships. Parents wonder if their children are safe, regardless of what happened at APS.

    Ground realities, madam, they are different everywhere; sometimes they are not in accordance with what we would want them to be but we have to accept them anyways because you know, whatever. Personally, I would feel safer, if someone in my vicinity that I was familiar with had a gun. Lastly, a distinguished gentleman once remarked, ‘Guns dont kill people. People kill people’.Recommend

  • Parvez

    A gun should be given in the hand of one who knows how to use it and is willing to use it…….otherwise its a liability. These types of measures are cosmetic…….what is needed is improved intelligence and the willingness of act on firm intelligence. Selective action to accommodate political patronage, will not do.Recommend

  • Sysa Ed

    Safety and security are being threatened on a daily basis in the current scenario, especially surrounding school buses.Technology is lending a helping hand to tackle these issues in the form of RFID school bus tracking systems.Recommend

  • Prashant

    Though there is no evidence of India supporting Fazlullah but if at all it is true, it should be stopped as long as Pakistan does not support the Hafiz Saeed’s and Maulana Masood’s.Recommend

  • Jehanzeb Mahar

    The author is living in a world of dreams. Dear author, how would you prevent arms ammunition going near the schools. Do you think it is possible in pakistan in the next 20 years? Has our government ever succeeded in achieving such a great feat? And can’t you distinguish between weapons in the hands of terrorists and in the hands of ordinary citizens.
    When you talk about gun related deaths in USA, why do you ignore the fact that suicides constitute a very large proportion of these deaths. A person wanting to commit suicide will do it whether he has a gun or not. And please don’t lie by saying that a strong pro-gun lobby resists gun control laws in the US. In fact, majority of the american people oppose strict gun laws, which is evident from the soaring gun sales during the past few years. Instead, it is the strong and rich gun-control lobby which always comes up with a new law aimed at robbing the people of the right to self defense.
    And what makes you think that teachers would use these weapons to settle scores with their enemies? Guns, both legal and illegal, are readily available in pakistan. So why would a teacher wait for permission to carry gun to the school to settle his personal score with someone? Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. And for the accidental misfires, why don’t you stop driving? Since car accidents kill more people than accidental misfires.
    Last but not the least, I always consider myself and my family safer if there is a familiar person around with a gunRecommend

  • Fighter Man
  • Prashant

    The daily mail has also published this:

    http://www.dailymailnews.com/2014/09/11/special_report/RAW-buying-Geo-TV-thru-3rd%20-party-arrangement.php

    It is upto you if you want to believe in what a news edition like this writes.Recommend

  • Diana

    Some Hindu extremists have hacked this website. So coward that they don’t want other to see the truth.

    “Kerry snubbed Modi over Mulla Fazalulla patronage”Recommend