The women teachers turning to guns in Pakistan

PESHAWAR – Female teachers in the Pakistani city of Peshawar have decided they need to learn how to use guns. 

The teachers at the Frontier College for Women requested a police-run course in how to use semi-automatic weapons after a Taliban attack that killed more than 140 children in Peshawar in December.

Their request followed the provincial Khyber Pakthunkhwa government's move to let teachers carry guns, in order to ward off any similar attacks in the future. 

“I have never gripped a weapon in my entire life let alone use it but this extraordinary situation demands extraordinary measures," says 35-year old Islamic studies teacher Sidra. 

The government has requested schools install armed guards, barbed wire and concrete walls since the December attack, which put the country on high alert. Insitutes such as Sidra's, in Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt, have long been a target for militant groups who reject women's education. 

"That is why I have come to take the training, so that I can not only defend myself but my students as well,” says Sidra who, when the training is completed, intends to also teach her students about how to defend themselves in the case of an attack. 

For most of the female participants of the training programme, it was the first time they were handling the weaponry. 

“It is a short course of two days in which we want to enable the participants to use guns and how to defend herself when they come under armed attack,” says female senior police official Rozi Eltaf, adding that the police department intends to provide the training to any educational institute that requests it. 

So far that request has been made by at least 10 schools, according to Senior Superintendent of Police Operations, Mian Saeed. 

The December 16 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar shocked Pakistan; the nine-hour siege was one of the worst incidents of violence in Pakistan's history.

Since then, both local and national governments have looked for ways to prevent a repeat. Arming security guards and teachers has been one way the local government has acted, despite opposition from people who say it will only put already traumatized children in further risk. 

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have been training security guards for schools and colleges and its own IT department is hoping to develop an emergency response system to be used during attacks. 

"We did not expected that such incident could happen in schools and colleges however after the Army Public School incident people have started thinking on that direction too," says Professor Mrs. Zaman Khan, a law teacher the Frontier College for Women. 

"It is not possible to stop our children from going to schools and education institutes. Even in such high times, parents are sending their children to attend classes but now we  have took the initiative to prepare ourselves to deal with any such like situation," she says. "And we are satisfied from getting training. The training for self-defense is essential for every citizen even if there is no militancy and terrorism."

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency