Imagine October 27, 2020. It was a fine morning with a gentle breeze blowing. The kids and other students were bustling around their homes hurrying to get to their madrassa. Around 8:30 am, when the classes were underway, a loud blast ripped through the peace in not only Peshawar but also through the peace of our nation. Eight young and bright students were killed and over 125 were injured. Their dreams of a perfect life dashed, shattered into pieces, like the glass windows of the building.
The scars of this atrocity will always haunt the innocent remaining lives. The footage running on televisions and social media showed the devastation and desolation of the Jamia Zubairia Madrasa. This shocking and saddening blast reminded our nation of the Army Public School massacre of 2014. Now, it is the test for the state and institution to deal with this tragedy and ensure further security in the whole country.
Education: a means of joy or dreadful memories?
UNICEF’s Pakistan Representative Ms. Aida Girma has issued a noteworthy statement condemning this malicious act. Stressing on the importance of education, she stated, “Education is the fundamental right of every girl and boy, everywhere. Schools must never be targeted. They must remain safe learning environments at all times to protect the growth and healthy development of children, adolescents, and young people”.
The whole nation is in mourning. One cannot erase from mind the heart-wrenching pictures of injured little kids with shining eyes. Their bags and pencils, which they must have bought with great joy, scattered around the ruined madrassa in blood. The education that was supposed to impart knowledge, skills, and values has now brought them nothing but pain and dreadful memories.
Education is a sword that imparts knowledge and hope. Rather than bringing trauma, it will continue to give us the impetus to fight against terrorism
However, the question that arises from this incident is, what will it take us to wake up and change, if not the slaughter of so many young innocent lives? Can education rise to this challenge of promoting peace or should we succumb to the fear of getting killed in the name of so-called Islamic radicalization?
Role of education being undermined by terrorist attacks
Unfortunately, these types of worldwide terrorist attacks against educational institutes are a way of threatening the peace and future of a nation by attacking their youth. Addressing a colloquium, the former Secretory-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan once said, “Education is, quite simply, peace-building by another name”.
The role of education in promoting peace has always been stressed but sadly, the violent conflicts around the world not only threaten peace but also the educational institutes. Our students and schools are on the front line of these vicious and brutal conflicts.
The recent attack on the madrassa in Peshawar is the most heart-wrenching example of how peace in a country or a community can be annihilated. The upswing in extremist and religious agendas is a significant reason for the suppression of educational activities, knowledge, and harmony.
Pakistani politicians too busy to protect the lives of civilians
Regrettably, we have learned nothing from the past. While visiting Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, General Bajwa said that, the same enemy that was behind the APS attack carried out the attack on the madrassa. Alas, the political leaders of Pakistan are busy in fiery political speeches and jabbing each other instead of taking any serious action over this heinous incident. Far more disturbing is the fact that some people are allegedly claiming that this attack was forewarned to the authorities.
The recent madrassa attack is a reminder for all of us. We will not forget this monstrous attack just like we haven’t forgotten the massacre of APS
The attack happened three days after this information. Tactlessly, our administration was unable to prevent this misfortune from happening. In addition, the victims of this blast are being deemed as abandoned children because the media has failed to generate mass coverage and concern in people as it did with the APS attack. Among this entire squabble, we are forgetting the most significant thing: Ensuring a safe, peaceful, and secure environment for the education of our children.
Eliminate the darkness of education through the light of education
Henceforth, education should bring peace not death to the students. Every tragedy leaves a lasting scar but fortunately, it makes us stronger than ever. Education is a sword that imparts knowledge and hope. Rather than bringing trauma, it will continue to give us the impetus to fight against terrorism.
It is high time to eliminate the darkness of terrorism through the light of education. Likewise, other threats related to terrorism, extremism, and violence must be exterminated to ensure the safety of our country and its children. Proper psychological assistance must be given to those who are silently suffering from this tragedy. Although, this is an uphill task but not an impossible one.
Our children and their education are the deciding factors for the development and prosperity of Pakistan. Only putting an end to violence and conflict will pave the way for an improved and better society. The recent madrassa attack is a reminder for all of us. We will not forget this monstrous attack just like we haven’t forgotten the massacre of APS. These gems, our brave martyrs, will always stay in our memory as real heroes of Pakistan.
The writer is a student of Development Studies from NUST. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.