Pakistan attacks: Scared to send their kids to school

Pakistan on edge after university attack
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Pakistan on edge after university attack 01:28

Story highlights

  • Divisions remain over the Pakistan army's handling of the counter-terror fight
  • People fear sending their children to school

(CNN)Once again, Pakistan has been left reeling by an attack on some of its most vulnerable and defenseless people.

Bacha Khan University is in Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of which Peshawar is the provincial capital. The city, less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Charsadda, is where the Pakistani Taliban slayed 145 people, including 132 children.
The devastation at Bacha Khan University might not match last year's attack in terms of fatalities, but the deadly message remains the same.
And it is the violence-weary people of northern Pakistan that suffer as the military combats the extremist insurgency and counter the ideology its preaches.
There is a strong sense of déjà vu -- people are feeling helpless and disillusioned -- but there are also divisions.

'Barbed wire won't work'

While 2015 did see a reduction in the number of attacks, there is also the view that the army still hasn't done enough -- a belief that the government and military response has been made up of empty platitudes.
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"We need concrete security for our children. Merely laying barbed wires around campuses won't work," Noor Mohammad Mohamand, from a remote tribal area in Pakistan, said to CNN.
"There must be a concrete plan to counter these attacks. The APS attack was a big lesson, but we haven't learned from it," he said.
Some are also critical of military trials and a seeming unwillingness to pinpoint the roots of militancy in Pakistan.
"The army and law enforcement agencies are trying but it's their responsibility to protect the citizens, and it appears, to a large extent, they've failed," said Mohamand.

Combating fear

Student Khyam Mashal was asleep when he got woken up by his friend telling him that there was a terrorist attack taking place on the campus.
At least 19 dead in attack at Pakistan University.
At least 19 dead in attack at Pakistan University.

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He said he looked out of his window to see two or three armed men firing guns and knew they were the attackers.
"I was so afraid," he recalled. "My country is not safe, so how will I feel safe?"
There is a risk of this feeling pervading a population that has long been under attack from disparate militant factions. Last year the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a mosque, proving once and for all that nowhere can be considered safe ground.
"How will I feel comfortable? I don't feel comfortable. I can say that I'm afraid," said Mashal.
Nobel prize winning Malala Yousafzai has been a shining light for those who live in fear in the area but repeated strikes at the heart of educational facilities can't help but take their toll.
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What does this mean for Pakistan's everyday population, for those who want to be able to send their loved ones to school and not fear violent retribution for it?
Behrwar Khan runs a business in Peshawar Cantonement.
"I was terrified after APS," he said. "And now the Bacha Khan University incident has compelled me not to send my daughter to university."
This sentiment was echoed by salesman Raheem Shah. "We need more security," he told CNN. "People are now worried to send their children to schools and colleges unless they can be provided with foolproof security."
But, as ever, there is a tide of resolve from some corners of Pakistan's resilient population. There are those who refuse to cower.
"We should not be at the mercy of terrorists," said University of Peshawar student, Manzoor Khan.
"We cannot be terrorized. We will keep fighting them, and we will not give up our studies."