Pakistan, a country engaged in a constant battle against terrorism for more than a decade. During this period the terrorists have struck many civilian and government targets such as police stations, military bases, markets, business centers etc. However on 16th December 2014 the Taliban, an infamous and outlawed militant organization struck a military run school in the North West city of Peshawar. The attack resulted in the death of 141 people, mostly children. Such an attack had never happened in Pakistan before. The brutality of the terrorists can be measured by the fact that even other militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda condemned the attack.
At that time I was also studying in a military run school, located in the Southern city of Karachi. I was 15 at that time. 16th December was just a normal day for us, there was nothing special happening, and everybody was doing what they usually do. At first, we were unaware of what was happening there in Peshawar. However at 2 PM PST a rumor spread that some militants have attacked a school, we were not quite sure which school it was or whether the school was in Karachi or some other city. Our school management kept the story from spreading to prevent the students from panicking. This was not a wise move though because now the students started making their own version of what was happening in Peshawar. Even though the attack happened about a thousand kilometers away from our city, this still meant a lot for us and our school.
First of all our school was a military school too. Secondly before the Peshawar attack, our school had been claiming that they might be a Taliban target. Such an attack was a first for Pakistan and as the students of Pakistan it was our duty to make it the last. The next day was supposed to be a holiday but the decision was overturned because the students belonging to different schools in Pakistan demanded the schools to be kept open so that they could show their might to the coward souls of the Taliban. Keeping them closed would’ve meant that they have scared us. The outraged students of my school wore black wrist bands to protest against the incident. There were massive protests and vigils around the city in the days that followed. Now the threat to our security had become much higher than before. Our school Principal informed the students in a joint assembly session that they were receiving threats (probably from the Taliban) and that our school is vulnerable. He announced a number of measures which he and the school administration are going to take to guarantee the security of the students. Even though my school was located in a gated naval complex adjacent to a military base it was still vulnerable. We saw some major modifications in our school regarding security in the months that followed. The main gate leading to the school was barricaded, a pickup truck containing around 6 to 7 naval police officers started patrolling our school and Soldiers of the navy started keeping watch. The school administration then turned their attention towards the student. They trained us to deal with any emergency. The training included evacuation drills and health training. Now we were prepared to tackle any unforeseen event. Our principal however wanted to prepare us for the worst. He told us if are school gets under siege we should be prepared to sacrifice our lives for others, quoting the actions of Aitzaz Khan, a school boy who stopped a suicide bomber from entering his school however he lost his life in the scuffle.
The school management ordered the construction of a large auditorium, which in case of any unfortunate event could barricade the students inside. There was one instance in which the school management barricaded the students inside the auditorium and evacuated the rest. Although it should’ve been a regular school day, no classes were held that day and the students were told to leave just as they arrived at school. I don’t know if it was a hoax or something else but it looked like on that day, that our school’s security was somehow breached; even today I am not quite sure what happened that day.
I graduated from that school in early 2016, having witnessed the Taliban scare multiple times I can say that even though studying in a military school in Pakistan is full of risks, it prepares you for the worst. After all the hard work by the management and the students regarding security of our school, the school was named the best naval school in Pakistan in the year 2015. For those who want to know, the name of my school was Bahria College Karsaz.