When a society is devoured by terror, whose responsibility is it to protect the innocent and the weak? After the dastardly terror attack on Bacha Khan University, this question is agitating Pakistani society as it mourns the dead. Among those killed was a chemistry lecturer, assistant professor Syed Hamid Husain. When terrorists stormed the campus on Wednesday morning, the teacher reportedly locked a door in the department, told his students and colleagues to hide, took up position and began firing with his pistol. In the ensuing gun-battle, Husain was cut down in a hail of bullets. But several of his students and colleagues got enough time to flee to safety. When police commandos reached the bloody scene, they found the teacher’s body with the pistol still gripped tightly in his hands. Armed with a PhD in chemistry from the University of Bristol in UK, Husain had joined the university only three years back. Hailed as a martyr now, the young father of two had fought poverty in childhood to grow into an outstanding scholar. That he had to take up a gun to protect his students speaks volumes of the tragedy Pakistan finds itself in, paying dearly for the long nexus between its military, sections of the political class and terrorist outfits. After Taliban militants massacred over 150 people, most of them schoolchildren, at an army school in Peshawar in 2014, teachers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province were given permission to carry firearms in the classroom. Some teachers’ associations had then objected, saying it was not their job to fight off terrorists. The scene of the latest carge, Charsadda, is only some 30 kms from Peshawar. It turns out that apart from Husain, another teacher and university director Mohammad Shakil too had to use a gun to fend off the terrorists. Policemen tossed the gun up to Shakil on a third floor balcony where he was stuck with many students. One can imagine the trauma of teachers placed in such a dilemma, forced to become shooters to save their pupils, but thereby going against the very ideals of their noble profession that is supposed to shape raw humans into civilized, enlightened beings.
food for thought