The most disturbing fact in the 16th December attack on Army Public School Peshawar is the one most often noted: The terrible loss of 141 innocent lives including the unspeakable crime of murder against 132 children. It was a crime that must never be allowed to happen again. In order for that to happen, we must take note of some other disturbing facts that are getting less attention.
I do not often find myself at a complete lost for words. But what can be said? What can one say after 131 children are slaughtered in the name of religion? What can one say that has not already been said so many times? In a few short hours I have experienced a full range of emotions. I have been shocked. I have been angry. I have despaired. It is like a nightmare that repeats itself and I cannot wake up.
Today the nation is united in mourning and outrage, but I fear it will not last. Already there are vested interests trying to manipulate the tragedy for their own gain. Already there are those terming it as a ‘false flag’ operation that was actually carried out by ‘Raymond Davis Network’.
It is being blamed on Indian RAW.
ISPR, COAS, and PM have all declared the terrorists as defeated, and yet they continue to carry out their attacks at will. The monsters carrying out these attacks do so in plain daylight, and yet we seem more willing to believe the stupidest conspiracies than what is right before our eyes.
131 children slaughtered.
131 children slaughtered.
131. Children. Slaughtered.
And within hours we are already making excuses for their killers.
Forgive me Allah but I am losing hope.
Imran Khan says education is key to the success of the country. At first glance, this sounds like an intelligent (if obvious) statement. Let’s look at the PTI chief’s comment in more detail, though. Here is what he said:
He said that the country was suffering from two parallel education systems, adding that if he comes into power, the PTI government would introduce a uniform education system across the country. He said that education was the backbone of any developed society, but in Pakistan, the government never gave importance to the most important issue.
To understand what this means in a practical sense, we can look at what education system the PTI has introduced in KPK where it is already in power.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led (PTI) government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has agreed to revisions in the curriculum for government schools here – including the removal of pictures of schoolgirls with their heads uncovered – for the new academic session commencing April 1, 2015.
The PTI’s coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) raised objections over the curriculum which was approved in 2006. The JI said Islamic chapters had been removed in 2006 syllabus; the party also wanted secular chapters removed from the textbooks. The religious party asked for the removal of “objectionable” materials and the addition of 18 Quranic verses to grade 9 Chemistry book…verses on jihad were removed from the ninth-grade Islamiat textbook and added to the grade 11 course.
According to Directorate of Curricula and Teacher Education (DCTE) Director Bashir Hussain Shah, the provincial government has accepted all of JI’s demands.
This is a glimpse of the education system that Imran Khan promises to make uniform across whole of Pakistan – one that is founded not in facts and reason, but in ideology.
Actually, this system is becoming uniform already – the PTI just wants to speed up the process. Even without the guiding hand of PTI, Karachi University recently banned Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, from attending a conference because of his views on 1971. Dr Imtiaz Ahmed got off easy. Dead of Islamic Studies at University of Karachi Mohammad Shakil Auj was murdered in the street for promoting a liberal interpretation of Islam.
LUMS administrators were cowardly in a different way when they allowed Pervez Hoodbhoy’s contract to expire with no explanation given. They may have felt that this would allow them to do the deed while denying the reason, but the message was heard loud and clear by anyone paying the least bit of attention.
In Islamabad, a dean and students advisor were sacked after it was discovered that a Model UN programme included information about Israel. It should be noted that Israel is a member state of the UN. Or was IIUI modeling the UN of its dreams instead of the UN of the real world? Either way, how can students be expected to succeed in the real world when their education is based on a fantasy one?
Most reports on education crisis in Pakistan focus on abysmal enrollment numbers. However even full enrollment of every child in the country will not provide an educated population if our education system is one that sacrifices reason on the altar of ideology.
PTI leadership are very good at some things. They are second to none at thinking up slogans. They can put on a rock concert better than most professional entertainment companies. They have an almost magical way of entrancing the media. And lets be honest, they have the top social media team of the country. PTI is a successful marketing machine, but even the best marketing team cannot make a delicacy out of old meat.
PTI’s most recent marketing campaign, branded with the hashtag #ShutDownToRebuild, threatened to bring Karachi, the financial capital, to its knees. What actually too place, however, was more like a pain in the neck. PTI sat down in the street and blocked traffic. Imran Khan made speeches. Youthias shouted slogans. And as the sun went down, they packed up and went home. The demonstration was inconvenient, but tomorrow everything will go back to normal as if nothing happened.
Now PTI is taking their road show (literally sitting in the road) to Lahore in a few days. There they will follow Imran Khan around chanting slogans. Arif Alvi will chat on the phone while sitting in the middle of the street. Wealthy PTI leaders will have their photos taken while drinking tea at a dhaba and their social media wing will spread them as evidence of their leaders humble authenticity. When the lights are off and the cameras put away, though, those humble leaders will return to their mansions and armies of servants.
How this helps the country, I don’t know. Actually, I’m not even sure how this helps PTI. Is their plan to annoy the country into handing over the reins of power? PTI’s leadership has proven to be masters of political showmanship, but they can’t seem to figure out how to get beyond sitting in the middle of the road inconveniencing people who just want to go about their lives. And so as another day comes and goes, so too another PTI demonstration that promised to bring things to a halt once again falls flat. Maybe it’s time for PTI itself to #ShutDownToRebuild.
In a historic moment that many thought would never been seen in our lifetime, the US government released the results of a secret investigation into allegations of torture by CIA. The shocking report has placed the CIA chief under immense pressure for covering up alleged abuses and officials are now calling for those responsible to be brought to justice. The popular reaction to this report is that America has ‘lost moral high ground‘. There is no question that torture is morally unjustifiable, but there is something to be said for admitting when you have a problem and working to change it. With that said, when will Islamabad follow suit?