SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 22, 2024

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Multiple Institutions

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Pakistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 22, 2024, four universities in Islamabad closed temporarily because of threats of suicide attacks.

The universities included three affiliated with Pakistan’s military – National Defense University, Bahria University and Air University – along with a fourth, Quaid-i-Azam University. The three military universities were closed indefinitely, while Quaid-i-Azam University was closed for around one week.

The specific reason for the threats was unclear, but media reports indicated that they may have been linked to upcoming elections and intended as retaliation for Pakistan airstrikes on Baloch targets in Iran. The threat came four days after Iran and Pakistan exchanged missile strikes on targets across their shared border.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats aimed at intimidating the high education community and disrupting classes and campus life. Such actions undermine academic freedom and university autonomy. State and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable.