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Nationalist, sectarian and militant networks are killing teachers, damaging education and limiting development in Balochistan, a US-based rights group said Monday.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 22 teachers and other education professionals were killed by suspected militants between January 2008 and October 2010 in the province of Balochistan.
Since 2008, more than 200 teachers have transferred to either Quetta, or have moved out of the province. Nearly another 200 are in the process of transferring, the group said.
Balochistan has, this year, seen a surge in separatist violence, sectarian attacks and killings blamed on the Taliban or other militant groups.
“To educate or to seek education in Balochistan today means risking your life and your family’s,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“By perpetrating such atrocities, Baloch nationalists are harming Balochistan’s development instead of advancing it,” he added.
Killing teachers, harming students and targeting schools “only increase Baluchistan’s problems and deprive its youth of the benefits of education,” said HRW in its new 40-page report documenting dozens of attacks.
“Fearing for their safety, many teachers have sought transfers, further burdening what is already the worst educational system in Pakistan in terms of education opportunities and outcomes,” the report said.
The education sector has been targeted disproportionately because militants view them as representatives of the Pakistani state and symbols of perceived Punjabi military oppression, HRW said.
In ethnic Baloch areas, schools are often understaffed, so any further loss of teachers severely jeopardises children’s chances of an education.
HRW also said that many teachers who stay on the job complain about being so preoccupied by security that their teaching has been adversely affected.
In October, Amnesty International called on Pakistan to investigate the alleged torture and killing of more than 40 Baloch political leaders and activists against a backdrop of Pakistani military activities in the province.
Source: Express Tribune