Following the deadly attack on Charsadda’s Bacha Khan University, it is clear that our enemies realise the biggest threat they face, i.e. education. The coward terrorists, who prefer attacking the innocent and harmless youth, have identified their fear and are shunning the whole idea of education by the gun. However, little do they know that by attacking our innocent kids, they are only making our resolve stronger for imparting the value of education in every child of the country. The brutality and severity experienced by the young martyrs of the Army Public School, repeated itself on January 20, when Bacha Khan University came under attack. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on students and faculty members as they gathered at the school for a poetry recital to commemorate the death anniversary of the activist and leader Bacha Khan, on whom the university is named after. The plight of the parents and family members of the martyred in this horrific time is unimaginable and the government salutes the courage of those who sacrificed their lives in this horrendous act of barbarism.

Undeterred by the sling of continuous atrocities, the Punjab government has been working vigilantly towards providing a safe atmosphere for people through proper implementation of the National Action Plan.

Under the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif, we will do whatever it takes to root out the menace of extremism from our society once and for all.

Besides understanding the importance of a successful implementation of NAP, the government also realises the fact that the only long-term solution to eliminate terrorism is through education. Quality education is the basic right of every child and through CM’s ‘Parho Punjab, Barho Punjab’ project, the government is ensuring this right by bringing education reforms at grassroots level.

Also, under the BISP special programme, one million children would be sent to schools across the country during this year, in line with the mission of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for creating awareness among women about the value of education for their children. Under this programme, Rs 250 monthly stipends would be paid to each student after verification of monthly attendance of the schools.

Moreover, the recent report of Transparency International has also testified that there has been a significant decrease in corruption in the province, which further authenticates the transparent policies and seriousness of the government.

Apart from education and security reforms by the government, there is also a greater need for unity and solidarity in the present circumstances and collective efforts should be made by all of us, as a nation, to fully eliminate this disease of extremism. It is the responsibility of every learned in the country to educate and liberate the vulnerable youth and promote tolerance in the society. There should be complete understanding among the public that terrorists can be killed by guns in the battlefield but terrorism can only be killed through education.

Although the security arrangements in Punjab have further been strengthened for protection of lives and properties of the citizens, there is still a dire need for a proper security plan to be evolved specially for educational institutions, one that should be strictly implemented. Such plans should not only be limited to schools, colleges and universities but also for the security of mosques, imambargahs and other places of worship as well.

Terrorists are enemies of the entire humanity and have no religion. We have rendered invaluable sacrifices in the war against terrorism and the whole nation should be determined to root out this menace.

It is comforting that the military and political leadership of Pakistan are on the same page against terrorism and are united in their resolve that indiscriminate action would continue against terrorists along with their facilitators until extremism is fully curbed from the country. It’s about time for the country’s political parties also to overlook internal differences, move forward in harmony and show the world that nothing is bigger than the sovereignty of Pakistan.

Islam promotes peace and tolerance, and it is of utmost importance for the youth, especially in villages, to understand the true spirit of our religion. We “follow” the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) whose own neighbour was a Jew and cousin a priest; do we still need guidance on religious tolerance?