Pakistan and Islamist Threat to Schools: Christians and Shia targeted

Pakistan and Islamist Threat to Schools: Christians and Shia targeted

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Recent school attacks in Pakistan highlight the fear that religious minorities face – along with females of all faiths in Sunni Islamist areas that oppose female education.

Several forces are at play. This includes the sectarian nature of religious attacks, which mirror wider society where minorities face persecution. For example, young Christian, Hindu, and Sikh girls face the serious issue of being forcibly converted to Islam: while Shia Muslims are targeted concerning Sunni Islamist sectarian attacks.

Terrorists have also committed attacks against Christians and other minorities. However, in general, the Shia have suffered countless massacres in Pakistan at the hands of Sunni Islamists over many decades.

Educational attacks against children and teachers are either religious based – anti-Christian and anti-Shia – or similar to Afghanistan, Sunni Islamists seek to close female schools down in militant areas irrespective of Christian, Shia, or Sunni.

Concerning the recent tragedy at the Sangota Convent School when two girls were killed, Kashif Nawab reports: “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.”

Kashif Nawab continues: “The recent attack on the Catholic school has raised serious concerns regarding the safety and security of Christian institutions – and religious places of worship. This notably concerns the Islamist conservative peripheries of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore said: “This man was in charge of security for the children, the staff, the parents, everybody. That is what he was paid for. But in a moment of madness, he did this because the school teaches girls. This shows how aggressive these groups that are opposed to women’s education can be. Everybody has a right to an education.”

Aid to the Church in Need reports, “Earlier, extremist group Jan Nisaran-e-Islam threatened the school following false accusations that the Sisters were trying to convert its several hundred Muslim students to Christianity.”


In another attack against religious minorities that took place in early May – and aimed at education – seven Shia teachers (some reports say teachers and attendants) were shot dead. Another incident also led to the death of a Sunni teacher at the same school.

AP reports, “The teachers were gunned down by unidentified assailants who stormed a school in Kurram, a district in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.”

Pakistan President Arif Alvi said, “The attack on teachers by the enemies of knowledge is condemnable.”

The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is more active again in the Swat Valley – and this is leading to fear. Accordingly, while the recent attack that killed 7 Shia isn’t fully known, memories of the TTP remain vivid.

This includes sectarian attacks against the Shia and destroying at least 100 schools for girls.

Pakistan is once more blighted by political intrigues. Accordingly, the nation needs a reset – corruption, military power, and attacks against former leaders are nothing new in this country. – Kashif Nawab Christian Journalists Association of Pakistan CJAP

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