Condemn and Condone this Fascist Thought!

 

I was perturbed to read the thoughts of Mr. Aftab Iqbal in Daily Jang of July 29th (http://jang.com.pk/jang/jul2010-daily/29-07-2010/col13.htm).  I consider the author has expressed views which are extremely segregationist and fascist. Here the parallel can clearly be drawn with Apartheid or Nazi philosophy and thought process, something that makes this thought potentially fatal for society and the state and thus merits a strong rebuke.
What is even more disturbing is that the thoughts appeared on the main stream media by a columnist/anchor who has gained nation-wide fame. So there impact is likely to be devastating. Just when the argument of a Philosopher King of Philosophers can be refuted on logical grounds, the absurdity and the dangers posed by it make it imperative that the thought be rejected, denounced and condoned in the strongest possible manner without it meriting a response.
The ideas presented here go against the very essence of liberal democracy, our constitution, our values, human rights and human equality, and above all freedom of expression, action and speech. It also possess a question as to whether we can allow such repressive, anti-freedom views to be expressed in the name of freedom of expression.
All of us, who have the virtue of impacting people around us have a duty to stop this thought at its very beginning. If not done now, such ideas always find psychologically disordered people in the societies and start gaining strength. So it is time to take preventive measures or it might be too late and too costly for us to deal with the menace in making.
Sincerely.

I was perturbed to read the thoughts of Mr. Aftab Iqbal in Daily Jang of July 29th (http://jang.com.pk/jang/jul2010-daily/29-07-2010/col13.htm).  I consider the author has expressed views which are extremely segregationist and fascist. Here the parallel can clearly be drawn with Apartheid or Nazi philosophy and thought process, something that makes this thought potentially fatal for society and the state and thus merits a strong rebuke.

 

What is even more disturbing is that the thoughts appeared on the main stream media by a columnist/anchor who has gained nation-wide fame. So there impact is likely to be devastating. Just when the argument of a Philosopher King of Philosophers can be refuted on logical grounds, the absurdity and the dangers posed by it make it imperative that the thought be rejected, denounced and condoned in the strongest possible manner without it meriting a response.

 

The ideas presented here go against the very essence of liberal democracy, our constitution, our values, human rights and human equality, and above all freedom of expression, action and speech. It also possess a question as to whether we can allow such repressive, anti-freedom views to be expressed in the name of freedom of expression.

 

All of us, who have the virtue of impacting people around us have a duty to stop this thought at its very beginning. If not done now, such ideas always find psychologically disordered people in the societies and start gaining strength. So it is time to take preventive measures or it might be too late and too costly for us to deal with the menace in making.

 

Sincerely.

 

Political Will Stands In the Way of the Future

I have been impressed with the president’s continued call for education reform that improves the opportunities for the young people. Perhaps Mosharraf Zaidi is not impressed with such reminders of the importance of keeping education at the front of policy discussions, but let’s face it – we have a real problem in education that needs to be addressed. But we also live in a political democracy, not a dictatorship. The president can talk all he wants about reforms to improve the lot of the people, but until the middle class makes it a priority – and communicates to the parliament that this is a priority – how can anything happen? The missing element is political will.

This was the message of an address by MNA Ahsan Iqbal (PML-N). According to his speech, “Implementation [of education reform] is not present due to lack of political will and political instability.”

While there seems to be plenty of political interest in where MNAs received their degrees, nobody seems to be paying attention to the fact that the degree controversy is the natural result of a failed education policy left over from the past. What will parliament look like in 25 or 30 years when our young people today are asked to stand for election? Will they be again hounded for lack of prestigious education opportunities, or will we implement the reforms discussed by the president and Mr Ahsan Iqbal and invest in the future of our youth?

Mr Ahsan Iqbal had other important comments such as, “…in order to become an agent of change, our public sector education system must be changed. This change must be accompanied with soft skills such as fairness, piousness, justice, respect and care. By only this we would be able to create a tolerant society.”

Look at what is training our young people now. Screaming matches, false piety, and indignant attitudes on television talk shows. Injustice in the courts where terrorists have more rights than law-abiding citizens. Disrespect by so-called “intellectuals” for democracy and the leaders chosen by the people. If these are the digital classrooms of today’s youth, we will face a dark future indeed.

But that does not have to be our fate. Imagine if we put as much energy behind supporting common sense education reforms as we do behind trying to invent a new scandal each week. We could be the best education nation in the world.

Zardari calls for developing primary education

from The News:

President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday called for focused-attention to develop primary education facilities in the country, saying it was not merely a matter of education but also of national survival, development and security in the long run.

“The degree of focus on education today will determine the survivability and quality of life of the people tomorrow,” he said during his meeting with a delegation of the Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF) at the Aiwan-e-Sadr here.

The PETF is a recent initiative being implemented with the assistance of the UK with the objective to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of universal access and gender parity in the education sector.

The president said the government attached great importance to the development of the education sector and was focussing on not only bringing about a qualitative change in the education sector but also extending the network of educational institutions and eliminating ghost institutions in the far-flung areas.

He said the assistance of the international community was greatly needed in direct investments in the people of Pakistan, especially in the education sector. He said the government was aware of the fact that budgetary constraint was a major debilitating factor for the launching of various initiatives and providing incentives to the parents to persuade them to send their children to schools and that was why it was resorting to the international community to assist the government in the education sector especially.

He said lack of proper education facilities with poverty was not only hindering the national progress but also enabled the militants to mislead the impoverished youth by offering them free shelter and food in institutions that preached hatred and extremism.

However, the president said, merely more allocations and resources would not address the problems and issues in the education sector. “While it is important to increase allocations for education, it was no less important to ensure that the additional resources and increased allocations were also translated into enhancing the learning skills of the children,” he said.

The malaise that plagued the education sector was less that enough children did not go to schools and more that the children already going to schools were not learning well, the president said. He said quality education was a steel armour that equipped a student to fight the battle of life while spurious education was like a wooden armour and of no help in the battle of life. “We must provide our children and youth with the steel armour,” the president remarked.

He said quality education depended largely on quality teachers and quality curriculum, which in turn called for a shift in investment towards developing the human resources in the education sector, particularly in the primary schoolteachers.

Calling for giving more incentives to the primary schoolteachers, the president advised the government to examine the feasibility of pressing into service the incentive programme of the Benazir Income Support Programme and the associated Smart Card for this purpose. Giving incentives through the BISP would help create a new corp of quality primary schoolteachers to ensure that the children already going to school also learnt well.

Shahnaz Wazir Ali, co-chair of the PETF and the SAPM, briefed the president on achievements of the task force so far and said the PETF started its work by simplifying the national education policy to a 7-point agenda that consists of setting clear standards for learning, school performance and district performance; developing and implementing simple and transparent processes for monitoring purposes; informing citizens; providing state support and funding to non-government institutions, focussing on provision of quality text books and professional development for teachers, building the capacity and providing basic facilities for every school.

She said the government was visualizing 86% literacy by 2015 as compared to 57% of the present literacy rate with an objective of achieving universal primary education by 2015. She said that the focus of PETF was on improving the quality of education, equitable access, improving management and better education financing.

The members of the delegation included among others Special Assistance to Prime Minister Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, SAPM, UK High Commissioner Adam Thomson, Ms. Mehnaz Aziz, Dr. Fareeha Zafar, Country Director World Bank Rachid Benmessaoud, Deputy Head of Programmes DFID David Taylor, Senior Human Development Advisor Dr. Philip Powell Davies, Director Unesco Islamabad Dr. Warren Mellor, Education Advisor GTS Atussa Ziai and acting Director USAID Islamabad Ms. Katie Donohoe.

Pakistan’s Foundation? Its Youth.

“The foundation of every state is its youth.”

Short. Simple. To the point. It’s a fact that was articulated in the third century by Greek biographer, Diogenes Laertius. Why then do some countries remain oblivious to this easy and accessible truth? The country of Pakistan currently boasts one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. That, coupled with a booming population of 180 million, more than half of which is under the age of 17, presents Pakistan with two options: either to cultivate or neglect its youth. From its dismal statistics, including the fact that Pakistan’s illiterate population is currently growing and that Pakistan has something close to 6.8 million out-of-school children, it appears that Pakistan has chosen to neglect its youth.

In youth lies opportunity. The youth represent a form of weaponry an

d defense that no amount of missiles can surpass. I believe that this opportunity comes in either education or extremism. And it is my utmost belief that these two opportunities a

re, indeed, mutually exclusive. If the government chooses to provide a consistent education, a well-balanced life is promoted. If there is a lack of consistent education, the opposite of a well-balanced life is promoted, including, but not limited to, extremism in poverty and ignorance. Without an education, the only opportunity to exist lies within extreme tendencies.

Two opportunities: education or extremism. With the government overspending on military matters and under spending on education, Pakistan has opted for extremism in its finances and, ultimately, in its country’s own agenda. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the foundation and very literal future of any state, and in especial, Pakistan, lies within the youth. With Pakistan’s largely and largely growing youth-oriented population, the overspending on the military is a

statistic that is inversely affecting the youth as a whole. Understandably, Pakistan has had to face certain setbacks. Its counterinsurgency and war on terror have definitely made domestic priorities hard to balance. But education should never have been out the balance in the first place. Like government, ideally, it needs to be a staple in Pakistani society. The disparate educational system that spreads across public and private schools needs to be modified; while three fourths of Pakistan is learning the bare minimum, if that, an elite one-fourth is learning the maximum and then some. The shadow cast by Pakistan’s infamous ghost schools – schools that the government has on record but in actuality do not even exist- make ghosts out of the children who purportedly attend them as well. The absentee rate of tea

chers in Pakistan competes with the American urge to cut class. And the national curriculum remains outdated and in need of mass revision.

Instead of overspending on the military, I propose that Pakistan invests in an extremely ancient yet equally effective weapon: its youth. As a Pakistani-American, I see the education of my family in Pakistan as a constant struggle upwards. In all my time as a student, I have never once thought that my teachers would not come to school, that my school might shut down, or that I might not have a desk upon which to write. We’ve been lucky. Living in America does that. And if you’re reading this, chances are your educational experience was far from ghostly. But until the government of Pakistan chooses to place youth over weaponry, it is upon those of us who have received an education to give back.

After all, it requires the education of one to cultivate the education of another. Give back. Look back. And strengthen the very literal back of Pakistan- i.e. its youth- by giving back.

An Ally of Necessity

An Ally of Necessity

The much publicized leaking of several thousand classified documents relating to the war in Afghanistan may have provided the war’s American critics an opportunity to press their objections. It does not, however, make the case against military and political cooperation between the governments of the United States and Pakistan, made necessary by the challenge of global terrorism.

Under elected leaders, Pakistan is working with the U.S. to build trust between our militaries and intelligence agencies. In recent months, Pakistan has undertaken a massive military operation in the region bordering Afghanistan, denying space to Taliban extremists who had hoped to create a ministate with the backing of al Qaeda. Pakistan-Afghanistan relations have been enhanced to an unprecedented degree. And exchanges of intelligence between Pakistan and the U.S. have foiled several terrorist plots around the globe. The WikiLeaks controversy and the ensuing speculation about Pakistan’s role in the global effort against the terrorists should not disrupt the ongoing efforts of the U.S. and Pakistan to contain and destroy the forces of extremism and fanaticism that threaten the entire world.

Pakistan is crucial for helping Afghanistan attain stability while pursuing the defeat of al Qaeda led terrorist ideologues. For that reason the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have denounced the leaking of unattributed and unprocessed information implicating Pakistan in supporting or tolerating the Taliban. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, a Democrat, warned Monday against judging Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war by “outdated reports,” adding that Pakistan had “significantly stepped up its fight against the Taliban.” Most Americans and many Pakistanis agree on the need for improvements in Pakistan’s efforts, but that is not the same as suspecting lack of cooperation.

The tragedy that has unfolded in South Asia is the product of a long series of policy miscalculations spanning fully 30 years. The U.S., in its zeal to defeat the Soviet Union—a noble goal indeed—selected Afghanistan as a venue. Pakistan became caught up in an ideological battle between communism and a politicized version of our Islamic faith. The most violent and most radical elements of the Mujahedeen resistance were empowered to fight the surrogate war against the Russians. Concerns—such as former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s warning in 1989 while visiting the U.S. that the world had created a Frankenstein monster in Afghanistan that would come back to haunt us—were generally ignored.

Alliances and relationships forged among supporters of the Afghan jihad 30 years ago have not been easy to dismantle within Pakistan. But they have been dismantled. After 9/11, Pakistan made a deliberate and courageous decision to confront the terrorists as the civilized world’s first line of defense. Since the return of democracy in 2008, Pakistan has paid a terrible price for its commitment to fight terrorism. More Pakistanis have been killed by terrorism in the last two years than the number of civilians who died in New York’s Twin Towers. Over the past nine years more Pakistani than NATO troops have lost their lives fighting the Taliban. Two thousand Pakistani police have been killed; our mosques and hotels have been savagely attacked; scores of billion dollars of foreign investment were frozen; and tens of billions of dollars of funding for education and health have been diverted to the battlefield against the extremists.

We cannot undo the past, but we can certainly alter the course of the future. The democratically elected government of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has followed a clearly laid out strategy of fighting and marginalizing terrorists, even when that decision was less than popular with a public still cynical because of what it believed was the political manipulation of the past. The course laid out by Pakistan’s democratic leaders has been executed brilliantly by Pakistan’s military and intelligence services.

The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not even remotely reflect the current realities on the ground. For example, a retired Pakistani general is named as the master planner of the Afghan Taliban’s strategy. But this is a man who hasn’t held any position within Pakistani intelligence or the military for more than 20 years. For its part, Pakistan’s current leadership will not be distracted by something like these leaks. We have paid an unprecedented price in blood and treasure over the last two years. We will not succumb to the terrorists.

As we speak, the military of Pakistan is engaged in a bloody battle, taking enormous casualties, in the mountains of South Waziristan to purge the tribal areas of terrorist sanctuaries. Our intelligence forces are gathering information across the country and targeting terrorist cells in North Waziristan to thwart their designs for destabilizing our government and terrorizing our people.

This is Pakistan’s war as much as it is a battle for civilization. Pakistan’s very existence and traditional way of life are at stake. We fight alongside our friends from all over the world to protect freedom. The U.S could not have a more committed ally in this defining battle of the third millennium than the people, the government and the military of Pakistan.

Mr. Haqqani is Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703700904575391581626604078.html