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A female teacher trying a gun.
A female teacher trying a gun.
Mudassar Shah

PESHAWAR Schools in Peshawar now look like police stations, equipped with barbed wire, surveillance cameras and snipers after the Taliban's December assault on a school that killed 132 students.

Officials told schools to be prepared for other attacks, and in an extraordinary measure, the Khyber Pakhtunkua government is allowing teachers to keep guns at school. The local police are also now training female teachers in how to use guns.

Ashraf Khan teaches in a primary school not far from the army public school that the Taliban attacked in December. The first thing he does in the morning when he enters the classroom is put his automatic Kalashnikov rifle next to him.

"I don't like having to carry a gun all the time, but the law-and-order situation is not good now," he says. "I know it's not a good mental state to be in for teaching children, but the militants will think twice before attacking schools if they know teachers have guns."

Provincial education minister Muhammad Atif says that if teachers are being threatened, then they have the right to carry weapons inside the school. And while almost every Pashtun male is trained to use guns and weapons from a young age, most female teachers need training to learn too.

Zaman pushes her headscarf slightly to the side, then leans down, lines up her gun and fires at the target. A group of male police watch on. She is one of 10 female teachers taking part in this training run by the local police. "It is a very good initiative of the government to train female teachers like this," she says. "Self defense comes first, then we can learn in peace."

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Geopolitics

NATO Entry For Sweden And Finland? Erdogan May Not Be Bluffing

When the two Nordic countries confirmed their intention to join NATO this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated his plans to block the application. Accusing Sweden and Finland of' "harboring" some of his worst enemies may not allow room for him to climb down.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO

Meike Eijsberg

-Analysis-

LONDON — When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his opposition to Finland and Sweden entering NATO, it took most of the West's top diplomatic experts by surprise — with the focus squarely on how Russia would react to having two new NATO members in the neighborhood. (So far, that's been a surprise too)

But now Western oversight on Turkey's stance has morphed into a belief in some quarters that Erdogan is just bluffing, trying to get concessions from the negotiations over such a key geopolitical issue.

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To be clear, any prospective NATO member requires the consent of all 30 member states and their parliaments. So Erdogan does indeed have a card to play, which is amplified by the sense of urgency: NATO, Sweden and Finland are keen to complete the accession process with the war in Ukraine raging and the prospect of strengthening the military alliance's position around the Baltic Sea.

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