Pakistan

The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/69/926–S/2015/409) issued on 5 June 2015.

Pakistan continued to face significant security challenges, posed in particular by armed groups and extremist groups, with schools being particularly targeted. Hundreds of civilians were killed or injured in dozens of attacks. In response, the Government launched a major offensive in North Waziristan in June to reduce the capacity of armed groups to strike within the country. In one of the most alarming incidents of the reporting period, on 16 December, nine gunmen stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar, firing on pupils and staff indiscriminately, and utilizing improvised explosive devices and hand grenades to maximize casualties. At least 132 boys, as young as 8 years of age, and several teachers and other staff members were killed. At least 133 persons were injured, the vast majority of them children. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the assault, stating that it was an act of revenge for the ongoing offensive in North Waziristan.

Although exact figures of child casualties were not always available, sectarian violence and hundreds of indiscriminate attacks, including by improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers, continued to affect children in several areas, with Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provinces most affected. In February, for example, in Peshawar, a suicide bomb in the crowded Koocha Risaldar area near Qissa Khawani bazaar reportedly killed 10 persons, the majority of whom were women and children, and injured 48 others.

Armed groups continued to regularly attack educational institutions. At least 40 secular schools were reportedly attacked, mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and in Balochistan Province. In January, for example, a suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up outside the gates of a school in Hangu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing a 14-year-old boy who was trying to prevent the attacker from entering the school. In February, an improvised explosive device exploded outside school gates in Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, reportedly injuring 13 children and the school principal. In the wake of the December 16 attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, all educational institutions across Pakistan were closed for a period of three to four weeks, thereby disrupting education.

Attacks on polio workers by TTP-affiliated and other armed elements continued unabated in 2014, resulting in the killing of at least nine such workers and several police and security personnel providing escorts for the conduct of polio campaigns. For example, in January, three persons were reportedly killed and two others injured by four armed elements in Karachi. In Balochistan, on 26 November, four polio workers, including three women, were reportedly shot dead and three other members of the polio vaccination team were wounded by two gunmen on a motorcycle. On 9 December, in Faisalabad, Punjab, a schoolteacher volunteering in a polio vaccination campaign was reportedly shot by armed elements on a motorcycle. The Taliban splinter faction Jundullah claimed responsibility for the attack.

Interaction on child protection between the United Nations and the Pakistani authorities continued throughout 2014. For example, with United Nations support, the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan approved a comparatively substantial budgetary allocation for the establishment of child protection services. One area of concern is the reports of detention of children for alleged association with armed groups a nd on national security charges. In January 2015, the Parliament of Pakistan passed a constitutional amendment on the establishment of military courts for a duration of 24 months, wherein civilian suspects accused of acts of terrorism will be tried. Military courts are inappropriate forums for hearing cases involving children since they do not fully recognize the special status of juveniles in conflict with the law. I urge the Government to ensure that any children arrested for their alleged associated with armed groups or under security charges are treated primarily as victims. In all circumstances children are entitled to benefit from the special status of juvenile in conflict with the law in conformity with international human rights law.