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Women teaching in Darra feel harassed

KOHAT, March 4: Women teachers from Kohat working for different schools in Darra Adamkhel feel harassed, though the authorities have provided them a guard following threats from a Taliban-style militant group.

The escort accompanies eight pick-ups which carry more than 70 teachers from Kohat to the Sannikhel area in Darra Adamkhel.

Similarly, in the Sheraki area, the administration has deployed a Khasadar force for round-the-clock duty at middle schools for girls, officials told Dawn on Sunday.

The tribal administration has also warned local tribes that if any terrorist incident occurs in the girls’ schools, their elders will be responsible.

Ms Afridi, the principal of a school, said: “Such incidents have become very common and recent attacks on shops have spread a new wave of fear among women teachers.”

Ms Afridi, whose sister received a Pride of Performance award two years ago, said tension still persisted because the culprits threatening woman teachers had not been arrested. “We’ll feel safe once the people involved in terrorists activities in general and those threatening teachers in particular, are brought to justice.”

She said the car of a college principal, accommodated in the school for the time being, had been chased by four motorcyclists up to Mattani in Peshawar. Parents are also afraid of sending their children to schools due to the rise in terrorist acts and threats by the so-called Taliban in Darra Adamkhel.

Meanwhile, watchmen of schools have refused to cooperate and perform duty in this situation.

“Their point of view is that as they are local, they cannot provide names of terrorists if they identified them, and so their is no need to perform duty,” an official quoting watchmen said, adding that the watchman were also not allowed to fire on terrorists if they attacked, which was the actual reason behind their refusal to guard schools. “They cannot fire on their fellow tribesmen if identified as terrorists under local customs. Otherwise, they will have to pay a huge fine to be imposed by a jirga and it will result in enmity with victims’ families.”

The security arrangements for woman teachers were made on directives of Kohat district coordination officer Shahab Shah, who also holds the charge of administrator of the FR, Kohat.

Ms Chamn Sultan, who has been serving for 42 years, said such incidents had started after teachers from Peshawar were appointed in newly-upgraded colleges in Darra Adamkhel.

“These teachers are not aware of the culture of the tribal area and are not ready to wear burqa or dupatta even while standing on the road. They have been warned many a time by unknown tribesmen claiming to be the local Taliban to observe local dress code.”

She said a letter teachers had been receiving from the Taliban for several months stated: “There is no need to teach girls after the fifth class, otherwise they will blow up all such schools.” She said abusive language had been used in one of the letters.

Many schools and CD markets in Tor Chappar, Piwal, Sannikhel and Mohammad Hussain Mela, Akhorwal and Noor Ali Kalay areas have been targeted by extremists from August to December last. One of the schools and a market were completely destroyed in blasts.

Officials said they had failed to trace the group claiming to be the Taliban who were attacking girls’ schools and CD shops only, while the drug and arms business was continuing as usual.

Source: Dawn

Date:3/5/2007

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