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Safety drills in Karachi schools: Dreaded safety measures going nowhere

The attacks on educational institutions that have taken their toll on Pakistani schools, are now beginning to take an uglier turn; something that a person with a right state of mind will not take a minute to realize. The terrorist attacks are not the only horror that children now fear; they are now being driven to attend mandatory drills during school hours in which they are taught to use guns and weapons in order to ‘protect’ themselves in the face of an actual attack.

The Government of Sindh seems to be working tirelessly to make sure that panic does not last long, but seems to have no control on the actual problem whatsoever. Only recently, a few private schools decided to close down completely for a couple of days, scared and threatened by terrorists who were rumored to be entering the City of Lights in groups, all with intentions of attacking children going to schools.

This closing down of schools was not observed by all of them, and it seemed that the measures being taken by the Government were, more or less, not satisfactory enough for the administrations of these institutions to trust the responsible authorities to continue with their usual school activities in a normal manner.

To make things looks more serious than before, the Government has ordered for official drills to take place in schools, in which trained teams are sent to universities, colleges and schools, teaching large crowds of children how to survive in a war zone like situation; if they may face one.

The training teams are to create an environment for the children in which they actively fire gun shots and run across the room in a panicky manner, giving them a feel of a place under attack. The problem with these drills is that they are a little too real for young minds and hearts to handle; a problem that does not need a exceptional mind to understand.

We should not forget that the survivors of the APS attack in Peshawar took months to become emotionally stable again, which was mainly due to the larger than life war-like situation that they faced; and also the bloodshed that followed.

Creating the same kind of environment and calling it a ‘security drill’ is simply an outrageous idea, something that should be well discussed with psychiatrists before actually being implemented. The authorities need to realize that while they may be strong enough to face something as emotionally devastating as a terrorist attack on a school, the school-going children, no matter how much they are prepared beforehand, cannot ever be made ready for something that shakes them up not only physically, but also emotionally.

The children need to be told of the pros and cons of terror attacks and what they should do in case they happen to face one, but having drills take place in an educational environment which disrupt the young minds is not the way to go with. The Government needs to make sure that such ignorant plans are not carried out on the children, who are not only the future leaders of the country, but should also be treated and handled smartly enough to not end up creating a generation of mentally disturbed individuals; something Pakistan simply cannot afford.

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