Separatists and Islamic militants in southwest Pakistan are increasingly targeting teachers, college professors and other school officials, stunting development in the poorest corner of the country, an international rights group said Monday.
The Human Rights Watch report on Baluchistan province shows that education in Pakistan is under threat not just in the northwest, where Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants have long harassed teachers and attacked schools, especially those for girls.
Suspected militants murdered at least 22 educators in Baluchistan between January 2008 and October 2010, according to the report. The most prominent killing was that of Shafiq Ahmed, the provincial education minister, who was shot dead in October 2009.
Militant separatists have threatened teachers and school officials to stop teaching Pakistani history, flying the Pakistani flag, and singing of the national anthem. Partly as a result of the threats, bombs or other attacks, government schools in 2009 were open only 120 days — 100 days less than in the rest of the country.
Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province, covering 44 percent of the country and bordering Afghanistan and Iran. It also is the poorest of Pakistan’s four provinces and the most sparsely populated, with around 8 million people, or just 5 percent of the total population.
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