Tragedy struck the Sangota Convent School in Mingora Tehsil of Swat district as a police guard stationed at the premises shot and killed a young girl while injuring six others, including a teacher and fellow students. The constable responsible, identified as Alam Khan, has been apprehended, and authorities have assured the public that justice will be served.
The incident has sparked outrage and raised questions about the vetting and re-employment processes within the police force, as attacker Alam Khan had previously faced suspension before being reinstated and assigned security duties at the Christian school just three months ago. The Sangota Convent School was built in 1962 and is administered by the Rawalpindi Catholic Archdiocese Education Board.
The recent attack on the Christian institution has raised serious concerns regarding the security of the Christian institutions and religious places of worships, situated at the conservative peripheries of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which had remained the serious victims of extremism and terrorism in the previous wave of the militancy in the country.
The Bishop of Peshawar Diocese Rt. Rev Humphrey Sarfarz Peters, commenting on the incident, questioned the re-deployment of previously suspended policemen due to a controversial past at the Christian women institution. He also urged the authorities of the Police department to revisit their policy of deployment of guards to sensitive missionary places, and to develop a mechanism to assess and screen down their mental health.
The Church leader also stressed upon the need of the consensus among all of the stakeholders to counter and deconstruct the radical mindset in the society in order to minimize such incidents in future.
Bishop Sarfarz termed women education vital for the development of community and underlined the role of the Church in spreading quality education for women in the country. Recollecting the previous victim and encourager for the education in Swat, a then schoolgirl and now the Advocator of women education and laureate of the Nobel Prize for being, Malala Yousafzai he stated that, such attacks will not suppress but give rise to the level of education in Pakistan.
“Church will never stop educating generations of the country, Church is not discouraged”, he stated
Joseph Jansen, Head of the Voice for Justice Pakistan, condemning the attack stressed upon the serious review of security mechanisms from the authorities, in order to provide the adequate safety to the Christian institution in the current state of unrest in Pakistan.
Joseph pressed the authorities to take both Kinetic and Non-Kinetic responses against this attack, in order to preempt further loss in the future. He not only requested for the immediate legal action against the attacker but also emphasized upon the need to peddle up the efforts in order to minimize the radicalization and extremism.
Stressing on the need to watchdog the generators of radicalized narratives in the masses, he added that authorities must take substantial steps to stop the dissemination of extremist ideology in the society.
Human Rights Defender and Women Activist Shireen Aslam, said that economic stability of the country is heavily dependent on the inclusion of the educated women in the market, as more than half of the population of the country is women. She also acknowledged the role of Missionary Covenant Schools, in spreading the standard and unbiased education to the women of the country.
Condemning the attack, she said the majority of the women have remained suppressed due to restrictions on the attainment of the education from our man-dominating insecure society. This attack is not only an attack on the prestigious Christian institution who had served the country for decades, but also against the women ‘s education. We as a country, must voice against such attacks and also reject the narratives which advance hatred against women, religious minorities and the other marginalized communities.