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Pakistan MPs condemn Taliban over school bombings

world Updated: Jan 20, 2009 16:31 IST

AFP
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Pakistani lawmakers Tuesday passed a resolution condemning the destruction of girls' schools at the hands of Taliban extremists and called for all to be rebuilt.

The National Assembly of Pakistan approved the resolution unanimously, one day after Taliban militants bombed five schools in Mingora district in the troubled northwestern Swat valley.

The latest attacks followed a threat last month by a local Taliban commander to kill any girls attending classes after January 15 and blow up schools where they were enrolled.

"The House condemns in unequivocal terms, the destruction of girls' schools and colleges by the militants in Swat," the resolution said.

"We consider these heinous acts a direct threat to the civilisation and integrity of Pakistan."

Lawmakers noted with "urgent concern the grave violation of women's rights, civilian rights and human rights through terrorist actions in Swat during the past two years."

A former tourist destination once frequented for its snow-capped mountains, the Swat valley is rocked by a violent campaign for Islamic Sharia law waged by radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who has links to Pakistan's Taliban movement.

"The House strongly condemns the militants' attempt to oppress the citizens of Swat in the name of religion.... (and) calls for a comprehensive response to the problem of militancy and terrorism in Swat and the tribal region," it said.

Fazlullah followers have blown up 173 schools, 105 of them for girls, since security forces launched an operation to crack down on militants in the region in 2007, education ministry official Sher Afzal told AFP.

The valley has more than 600 state-run schools, in addition to around 400 private schools.

The government reached a deal with the rebels in May to gradually pull out troops and introduce an Islamic justice system in exchange for an end to rebel attacks, but the violence has resumed.

Education has suffered badly in Swat as a result of the ongoing fighting between Taliban-linked militants and security forces, and only a handful of schools had still been open in the region's main town, Mingora.