Pakistan: Taliban threaten co-educational schools
The co-educational schools that the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) runs for Afghan refugees in Pakistan are under attack from Pakistan's new Taliban movement. This statement from RAWA was forwarded to us by the Support Association for the Women of Afghanistan (SAWA-Australia), April 21:
We have faced some problems with Hewad High School in the past few days. After Pakistani Taliban threatened that they will blow up any school which offers co-education, the Pakistani people who have their houses around the school asked us to either close the school or make separate benches for boys and girls, as they worry about any attack which may put them in danger. But we cannot give in to Taliban threats like many other schools in Pakistan, so the neighbours reported us to police.
The Afghan Embassy in Islamabad usually helps Afghan schools in such situations. However, although our school is registered with the Embassy, it did not provide any help to defend us. It is unwilling to help because the RAWA school does not always follows its instructions. We had a problem with them in the past when they asked us to display photos of Karzai and Ahamd Shah Massoud in the school and celebrate April 28 as "Victory Day" in the school which we did not, so the embassy even threatened to cancel our registration!! [April 28, 1992, the day the Mujahedeen took power in Kabul, is marked by RAWA as a "Black Day," that led to civil war and thousands of deaths.]
So the police gave us only two days to move the school to another location out of the residential area. Finally we were given a week to find a new building and shift the school, and during that time the school had to remain closed. The police [are] very harsh with Afghans these days. Many innocent refugees have been arrested for nothing just to show that the Pakistani police is active and arrest people involved in "terrorist acts"! Everyone knows that the suicide attacks in Pakistani cities are not made by Afghans, but still the police has found a good excuse to disturb our unfortunate refugees.
This caused us much problem and cost us much. We had to search for a new building. Fortunately we soon found another suitable one, but its rent is much higher. But we have no option but to pay it. Also we have to pay half month rent to the property agent and also bear the shifting costs.
The school is closed since a few days and will be closed until our shifting to the new building is completed. But still we need to take some security precautions from the Taliban's attacks. Some Pakistani schools of the rich are guarded officially by Pakistani police lately, but for schools of refugees and poor Pakistani no security measures are taken by the government.
Although we are used to such problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan, we wanted to let you know about our situation.