- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Government authorities in northwest Pakistan have reportedly granted teachers permission to carry concealed firearms in response to the December terror attack that left 150 children and teachers dead.

Mushtuq Ghani, the higher education minister in the Khyber Paktunkhwa provincial government based in Peshawar, said the Cabinet supports the arming of teachers as a logical step after educators at the Army Public School and Degree College were left defenseless Dec. 16 when Taliban militants carried out the deadliest attack in Pakistan’s history, the Associated Press reported.

“We’re at war,” Mr. Ghani said, arguing that the region’s 65,000 police are stretched too thin to provide a first line of defense to nearly 50,000 schools.

He suggested that armed teachers could at least potentially hold off gunmen until reinforcements arrived.

At a shooting range in Peshawar, the Khyber Pakhtunkua police force has started basic weapon training sessions for educators.

Inspector Rozia Altaf said around 20 female teachers have already received training since the attack.

“The tragedy of December 16 has emboldened these women,” the inspector told CNN. “Most of them were mothers and they were helpless then — they will be never helpless again.”

Shabnam Tabinda, a 37-year-old educator at the Frontier College for Women, said she and 10 other women at her school have received firearms training.

Asked whether she felt confident of killing a terrorist at her school, she told AP: “Yes. Whoever kills innocents, God willing I will shoot them.”

Some teachers licensed and trained to carry firearms already have started bringing them to school.

“I carry my weapon, but I always keep it hidden like this,” said Meenadar Khan, a teacher at Government High School in Peshawar, lifting his shirt to reveal a Pakistani-made semi-automatic, AP reported.

Umar Daraz, a teacher who has been a member of the Executive Council of Peshawar’s Primary Teacher Association for more than 20 years, is shocked by the government’s decision to “glorify guns.”

“Teachers are meant to teach,” he told CNN. “If teachers take guns into classroom it glorifies this deadly weapon in the eyes of children, and in the future it could inspire them to seek out guns, misuse them and cause more tragedies to take place.”

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