This morning, Pakistani Taliban militants armed with guns and explosives stormed a school in Peshawar. After an eight-hour battle with security forces, over 140 students and teachers were dead. This terrorist attack is the largest Pakistan has seen since 2007—when 134 people were killed at a rally for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. However, it is also part of a larger trend of Taliban attacks on Pakistani schools, school children, and teachers.
As CFR Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes, terrorist attacks on schools in Pakistan and elsewhere are neither isolated nor new. In 2012, Human Rights Watch recorded nearly one hundred attacks on Pakistani schools in just a ten month period, and the United Nations reported over 150 incidents of partial or complete destruction of a school in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province or Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in 2011.
As instability and violence ravage Pakistan, education for both boys and girls is under threat. Today’s attack on children who dare to set foot in a school makes Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai’s call to action more important than ever. Condemning the violence this morning, Ms. Yousafzai also reiterated her determination, saying, “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters—but we will never be defeated.”