Another Girls’ School Targeted by Arsonists in Pakistan

The local police view the incident as a minor commercial dispute involving the owner of Golden Arrow School in Shakhimar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. They allege that a business rival, currently wanted by authorities, may have set the school on fire, reducing it to ashes. The school, which served approximately four hundred girls, including the daughters of officers from the Pakistani Army’s Seventh Division, was destroyed on the night of May 27, with the arsonist using kerosene to ignite the blaze. All assets, including computers, archives, and furniture, were lost in the fire.

However, residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are skeptical of the police’s account. Golden Arrow is the third girls’ school to be destroyed by fire or explosives in the region this year. On May 10, a girls’ private school in Shewa Tehsil was also blown up. These attacks are part of a long-standing pattern, typically attributed to Islamic ultra-fundamentalists who oppose girls’ education. The methods used in Shakhimar suggest the involvement of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group closely allied with the Afghan Taliban.

During a hearing on May 29 regarding the potential revision of a controversial decision to release a man who distributed an Ahmadi commentary on the Holy Quran (a decision based more on procedural than substantive grounds), Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of Pakistan’s Supreme Court cited the school-burning incidents as indicative of the threat posed by Sunni Islamic radicalism.

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