The extremists have left but they have also left behind their ideology. One sector which has been repeatedly the target of extremists is the education sector because it has the capacity to evolve minds and push them to look beyond the set spectrum of ideas. The lack of education would it make very convenient for them to misguide and manipulate people to follow orthodoxy. This is exactly what we have witnessed in Gilgit-Baltistan yesterday. The fact that extremists were able to set fire to 12 schools shows how deeply they have internalised those ideas, especially those which stand against the right of women to get an education.

Mind you, this is not the first time such an attempt has been made. Similar attempts to attack educational institutes in the area were made in 2004 and 2011 respectively. Diamer district already is very far behind if we compare the literacy rates with other parts of the country. Several schools were set up to overcome this gap and promote education in the area. While setting up schools is important, it is also important to initiate awareness drives because, without them, the literacy rates cannot improve. It is important to go from door to door to educate people about their rights as citizens and the need for education.

This particular attack not only has taken away education for many students but it has also shattered the dreams of many who want to see their children flourish. This will not just leave students scarred but will also create a sense of fear amongst the residents, particularly those who were in favour of getting their daughters educated. At the same time, it is alarming that a network was able to attack 12 schools only in a night without alerting anyone and managing to escape conveniently.

It is the responsibility of the authorities to not let those dreams shatter, initiate an investigation and put those responsible for this attack behind bars to set a precedent that those who will deny people their basic rights are violators of law and will be dealt with very seriously. At this point, only 20 percent of girls in the area were receiving an education. In order to help improve the situation, the provincial and the federal government must take notice and ensure that the education of women in the country is a priority on their agenda for the next five years.