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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2710

Dollars For Pakistan’s Education

By Allabaksh & Malladi - Syndicate Features

Say this for Uncle Sam: if he likes a fella dollar bills flow out of his wallet in incredibly generous proportions, unconcerned about the end use of his munificence. Not content with pouring sophisticated arms and supplying weapons for use against ‘terrorists’ (but actually used to bomb Baloch and other nationalists) and in addition to over one billion dollars annually in cash for its favourite South Asian poodle, the US has promised Pakistan a $100 million grant for ‘education’ in 2007. Incredibly, Washington believes such largesse would rid the Pakistanis, especially its youth, of its inherent hatred for the US and the non-Muslim world in general.

Pakistanis of all hues and age groups top all those who hate the US most, as has been suggested by many surveys conducted in recent days. It will be naive to imagine that this hate-America Pakistani tribe does not include a sizeable section of the Pakistani establishment many of whom perhaps having had the benefit of some kind of ‘liberal’ education. In fact, there is a lingering doubt among many Americans about the current Pak leadership which retains power with the help of the Mullahs. The lesser Pakistanis, oblivious of any form of liberal education and inhaling nothing but an air of orthodoxy and bigotry, imbibe virulent lessons decrying Hindus, Jews and Christians. If some of the Indian textbooks raise the hackles of secularists they would do well to take a look at any Pakistani textbook, even science textbooks.

Under the US-Pakistan Education Dialogue the two sides will ‘collaborate’ closely in the field of education and there would be student and teachers exchanges. This kind of exchange is, of course, not new. But how this apparently new initiative will help eradicate the poison that Pakistan has been spreading through its textbooks since 1947 is not clear. A drastic overhaul of Pakistani textbooks is ruled out because even a hint of that nature brings the powerful Mullahs into the streets.

The US does not have the moral leverage to tell Pakistan to cut out the Jihad crap from its textbooks. It had encouraged Islamabad to propagate Jihad in its bid to pamper Pakistan to take on the Soviets who had occupied Afghanistan. Lessons on Jihad, however, are not confined to school textbooks in Pakistan. The Pakistani army is also taught Jihad, ostensibly to ward off dangers from the non-believers.

It is misleading to suggest that only the Madrassas teach Jihad when Pakistani schools, run privately or by the government, impart lessons in Jihad. Undoubtedly the teachers, if not the textbooks, make copious allusions to various ‘villains’ and ‘the enemy’ to drive home their point.

It is because of its all-pervasive atmosphere of religious intolerance and orthodoxy that Pakistan has become the foremost producer of Jihadis and terrorists. Despite all the ‘liberal’ pretensions of Gen Musharraf and his ‘desire’ to inject some ‘enlightened moderation’ into his country, most Pakistanis are happy to live in a protected religious cocoon. The Madrassas or the poor educational infrastructure of the country alone does not contribute to the churning out of Jihadis and terrorists in large numbers.

Had the Pakistani leadership been more liberal it would have at least ‘rehabilitated’ the only Nobel winner from Pakistan, the Dr Abdus Salam on his 10th death anniversary recently. For the rulers as well as the powerful religious leadership, Salam did not exist, though he always saw himself as a proud Pakistani and contributed in whatever manner he could to building up a scientific temper in his country.

In the warped society of Pakistan, the greatest ‘national hero’ is A.Q.Khan, condemned in the rest of the world as a nuclear black-marketeer who amassed a personal fortune selling nuclear bomb know-how, unmindful of the danger it posed to the world. Khan is a ‘true’ believer; Salam was an Ahmediya, a religious sect that is not recognised in Pakistan as being part of Islam. Both the Mullahs and the Military in Pakistan agree on this.

The ‘enlightened’ establishment did ‘honour’ the Cambridge-educated late Physicist and Mathematician in the most unorthodox manner—by erasing three words from his grave. Having declared Ahmediyas apostate, Abdus Salam lies buried with the inscription ‘Abdus Salam, the first Nobel Laureate’! The offensive words ejected from the tombstone were ‘the first Muslim’ that preceded the acknowledgement of his being a Nobel Laureate.

Does ‘modern’ education alone help in weaning the youth away from Jihad or terrorism? Consider this. Many Pakistanis associated with terrorist acts like the 9/11 attacks on the US and London tube bombings were well educated even by global standards. After the London attacks, Gen Musharraf even chided the British for overlooking the fact that the terrorists were ‘home-grown’. Of course, he conveniently forgot to mention that these ‘home-grown’ British terrorists were of Pakistani origin and, it is now widely believed, were converted to terrorism after a pilgrimage to Pakistan.

The Americans are welcome to loosen their purse strings for the Pakistanis or anyone else for that matter. But those who have been bearing the brunt of the Pak culture of Jihad and terrorism have a right to ask if all the millions and billions showered on Islamabad are being spent on something that is acceptable and benign.

How is it that Pakistan continues to spend a disproportionately higher percentage of its revenue (and GDP) on purchasing arms and ammunition while its expenditure on education has remained low? It is doubtful whether any one in the corridors of power in White House has read the UNESCO’s latest report on the school sector.

It shows that all the tall claims made by the President Musharraf’s spin doctors, the intake of children in Pakistan schools is not increasing and that nearly 6.5 million children in the age group five to nine years are out of school. They are either helping their family with housework at home, or are part of the child labour force or are loitering in the streets. Though 59 per cent of the children are enrolled in primary schools, on an average the boys spend only 3.8 years and the girls 1.3 years in school instead of the conventional five years. No wonder, the drop-out rate is phenomenally high. “What then is the solution, asked the Dawn editorially and replied thus: “More money for the education sector is the usual answer. But that is no solution if the policymakers have no idea about the direction they should take. It is plain that poverty and the inaccessibility to education are keeping children out of schools”.

The Pakistani propensity to misuse the plentiful financial aid that it receives from other countries and even international agencies is well known. Allegations have surfaced that a lot of money sent by British charities for the relief and rehabilitation of victims of the October 2005 earthquake victims in Pakistan occupied Kashmir had actually enriched the coffers of certain militant groups which were masquerading in the region as ‘religious and cultural’ organisations. What kind of ‘education’ in Pakistan will be advanced with the fresh flow of US dollars is only a matter of wild conjecture.

- Syndicate Features -

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