Pakistan charges 70 schools for failing barbed wire test

Reuters, March 30, 2015

By Jibran Ahmad

(Reuters) – A northwestern Pakistani province is taking criminal action against 70 schools that have failed to tighten security with measures such as installing barbed wire following a December high school attack that killed 132 children.

The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made it compulsory for all schools to hire armed guards, raise the height of boundary walls with barbed wire and install closed-circuit television.

Pakistan is in mourning after December’s attack on the army-run high school in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Six gunmen believed linked to the Pakistani Taliban killed 153 people in all.

The 70 schools taken to task are in Kohat, south of Peshawar, which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Minister Mohammad Atif Khan described as “dangerous”. Khan told officials to hold meetings with school officials before taking action, he said.

“We extended the deadline several times to enable the owners and principals to make security arrangements, but finally we decided to take action in those areas whose security risk level is very high, such as Kohat,” the minister told Reuters.

The province enforced the security measures even though the school targeted on Dec. 16 also had CCTV and security guards, which did not help stop the bloodshed.

When asked if the cost of the measures might be a reason for non-compliance, Khan said anyone who ran a school had the responsibility to protect the children.

“It seems as though I have a shop selling CCTV cameras and am ‎pressuring school owners to buy them,” he said.

“I have no personal interest in asking them to hire security guards and install CCTV cameras, but will never allow someone to jeopardize the safety of the children.”