Pakistan school terror survivors ‘avenge’ deaths by studying

The survivors of the Pakistani school attacked by terrorists in December are responding their peers’ deaths by showing no fear and returning to study in school, according to one of the country’s UN youth advocates.

The students of the Public Army School in Peshawar, where 145 people were killed, including 132 pupils, last December wanted to show “solidarity” by working harder and eradicating terrorism through education, she added.

Anusheh Aziz, an 18-year-old school student in Lahore, Pakistan, who acts as a youth advocate for the UN, said the reaction from her peers was the “complete opposite” from what the terrorists had intended.

“You can see there is this renewed urge among young people to study more and to drive terrorism out with a proper education,” Ms Aziz said at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday.

“That was the most positive thing that happened in the whole event and you feel this reflected by the actions of the students in Peshawar. In solidarity, they said they would use the same buildings [where the attacks took place]. They said we want to avenge this event by studying.”

According to research published by the University of Maryland in the US, Pakistan has suffered more attacks to its schools in the years between 1970 and 2013.

The most recent took place in December when seven extremists associated with the Taliban targeted the school in Peshawar in the north west of the country.

But the rise in attacks on schools in her country had not made Pakistan’s young people too afraid to attend lessons, Ms Aziz said.

“It renews this urgency within us to defeat terrorism,” she said. “To fight against it through education, specifically, because this is what they are afraid of. That the more enlightenment there will be in the country [then] people would not be indoctrinated.”

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister who now acts as the UN’s special envoy for education, has called for greater fortifications to be built into the country’s schools. But Ms Aziz disagreed.

“Personally, I don’t think having fortifications would make schools any safer,” she said. “You have to end terrorism. What happened in Peshawar was a security lapse, if you might call it that, so it can be a short term solution but we must work to a long term solution as well.”

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