LAMIYA SHABBIR WRITES – Being a student in Pakistan is a high-risk occupation.
In December, Taliban militants attacked Army Public School in Peshawar, killing 141 people. Though bloodier than most, the attack was by no means the first on institutes of learning. Taliban militants have shot up campuses, set schools ablaze, and forced girls from classrooms at gunpoint with the intent of imposing their extremist mores on Pakistani society.
This week the Taliban set its eye just 20 miles north of Peshawar, with a terror attack that killed 21 people at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda.
On Wednesday, at least four Taliban militants entered the university campus, using winter fog as their cover, and opened fire on students. One gunmen shot through university building windows while others went inside bathrooms, targeting additional students. There could be a symbolic reason behind the attack at Bacha Khan University as it is named after a Pashtun national anti-violent leader.
Most staff members were successful in locking themselves in the University’s main office. But one chemistry professor, Syed Hamid Husain, had a pistol and fired back. Teachers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were given permission to carry firearms after the Peshawar Massacre. However, the teachers’ association did oppose to teachers having to carry firearms saying that it was not their job to fight the militants. Husain reportedly sacrificed his life to give students time to hide from the attack.
Tributes to the fallen educator have poured in on Twitter. Raza Hamid Rumi, a television news anchor and widely-respected analyst tweeted, “Martyr of #education: Professor Hamid who was killed by terrorists in #BachaKhanUniversity #Pakistan. A creative manager at an advertising agency, Bissmah Mehmud tweeted, “Pakistan has lost an asset today… RIP Dr. Hamid…He was a PhD in organic chemistry and imparting knowledge to the future of Pakistan”. Twitter users called Professor Hussain “martyr of education,” while others said, “we have lost an asset.”
The Taliban militants were themselves reportedly killed by Pakistani militants. Authorities say they have recovered the attackers’ mobile phones and are gathering more information on where they came from.