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Gilgit Baltistan: On the intervening night of November 7 and 8, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists and their Islamist facilitators burnt Girls Middle School at Samigal, Darel in Diamer District of Gilgit Baltistan (GB), vernacular media reported.

The population of Samigal Pain is around 7,000 and it was the only girls’ school for this population. About 68 girls were studying in this school, vernacular media reported.

So far, no group has claimed the responsibility. Islamists, no matter which sect they belong to, are extremely opposed to giving girls’ access to education in Gilgit Baltistan.

Girls’ education in most parts of GB, particularly in Diamer is considered taboo by Muslim extremists. This week’s incident is not the first incident of burning schools. In 2018, 12 schools were burnt to ashes in a single night. Similar incidents happened in 2005.

The Diamer Youth Movement (DYM) held a protest rally at Siddique Akbar Chowk, Chilas. Participants strongly condemned the burning of schools and chanted slogans against the GB government.

Vernacular media reported that speakers urged the people to cut off ties with terrorists and Islamists. They said they are not optimistic about the government’s action against terrorists.

DYM President Shabbir Ahmed Qureshi and other leaders demanded immediate action against terrorists involved in the incident. They demanded an end to discrimination, patronization of extremists and weaponization of the masses.

Human rights activist and journalist Roshan Din Diameri deplored the incident and said there have always been serious issues regarding girls’ education in this area. Fundamentalists do not want girls to have access to education, vernacular media reported.

Presently the population of the Diamer district comprises 51 per cent females and all young girls want to equip themselves with education. Local people of the area had faced great difficulties to begin girls’ classes in the Samigal school.

People of Diamer said that Islamists’ desire of establishing complete control is one of the main reasons behind the burning of the school.

According to vernacular media, a number of people belonging to a vast majority of GB indirectly accuse the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) governments of GB and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of hatching conspiracies for fomenting terrorist activities through TTP in GB.

They added that their plan is to make GB a frontline territory for promoting terrorist activities in Central Asia and China’s Xinjiang province. However, GB people have rejected such conspiracies.

Some sections of GB society claim that Pak security forces are behind increasing terrorism in GB. They are providing protection to terrorists and promoting gun culture. They warned that if immediate action isn’t taken against such elements, they will also be forced to take up arms.

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