Tragedy struck the Sangota Convent School in Mingora tehsil of Swat district as a police guard stationed at the premises was shot. It 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 leadership has raised serious concerns regarding the safety and security of Christian institutions and religious worship places, situated especially at the conservative peripheries of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which had previously remained the victims of extremism and terrorism in the erstwhile wave of the militancy in the country.
The Bishop of Peshawar Diocese Rt. Rev Humphrey Sarfraz Peters, commenting on the incident, questioned the re-deployment of a policeman who was previously suspended from his service due to his controversial record, at the Christian women’s institution.
He also urged the authorities of the Police Department to revisit their policy of deployment of guards to missionary places, he also suggested developing a mechanism which can assess and screen down the mental health of the police personnel, before their deployment at such places requiring high-level security.
The Church leader also stressed the urgent need for consensus among all of the stakeholders to counter and deconstruct the radical mindset in society to minimize such incidents in future.
Bishop Sarfraz termed women’s education vital for the development of the community and underlined the role of the Church in spreading quality education for women in the country. Recollecting the previous victim and encourager for education in Swat, a then schoolgirl and now the Global Advocator of Women’s Education and Pakistani laureate of the Nobel Prize Malala Yousafzai, he stated that, such attacks will not suppress but give rise to the level of education among the women 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 the serious review of the security mechanisms from the authorities, to provide adequate safety to the Christian institutions, in the current state of unrest in Pakistan.
Joseph pressed upon the authorities to take both Kinetic and Non-Kinetic action against this attack and rising acts of extremism nationwide to preempt further loss. He not only requested for immediate legal action against the attacker but also emphasized the need to peddle up efforts which can minimize radicalization and extremism in society.
Stressing on the urgent 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 society.
Human Rights Defender and Women Activist Shireen Aslam, said that the economic stability of the country is heavily dependent on the inclusion of educated women in the professional market, as more than half of the population of the country belongs to women. She also acknowledged the role of Missionary Covenant Schools, in spreading the standard, unbiased and quality education to the women of the country.
Condemning the attack, she said that, the majority of the women have remained suppressed due to their 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 that had served the country for decades but is also against women ‘s education. We as a country, must voice against such attacks and also reject the narratives which advance the hatred against women, religious minorities and the other marginalized communities, she concluded.