Dr Ishaq Inqilabi
For Developing Pakistan
Some may feel that the state must allow the northern campaign against the Talibans to succeed before opening another front. This thinking is flawed on several counts. There may be under 5000 Talibs but probably two orders of magnitude (ie 500,000) supporters of the Talibs spread across Pakistan’s madrassas that teach them violent Wahabi Islam with money from Saudia and elsewhere.
The Pakistani public is slowly beginning to see the nastiness of the radicals. Sad events like the callous bombing of Lahore on May 27th, makes them more receptive to eliminating the corrupted madrassas which preach violence. Continue reading
by Ali Dayan Hasan
At my daughter’s annual school parent’s day event in Lahore last month, the tension was palpable. Bewildered at the speed with which this innocuous annual event had transformed into a maximum security operation, anxious parents filed in their hundreds past security guards, metal detectors and bag searches into Theatre Number Two of the Alhamra Cultural Complex – a modernist structure that the citizens of Lahore would tell you proudly is amongst the largest public-funded exhibition and theatre complexes in Asia. They were there to see their children, none older than seven, perform the usual amalgam of tableaux on “Peoples and Festivals of the World”, a smattering of Kathak – a North Indian classical dance, a “Chinese dance” performance and, of course, my daughter’s favorite – a Disney-esque version of the Bangles hit – “Walk Like an Egyptian.” The event began, as always, with recitation from the Quran. Tense primary school teachers grappled with security issues and as I walked in; a very public stand-off between a security posse comprising teachers, local police and plain clothes personnel and a random man who was on the premises for “no known reason” was underway. The man was eventually deemed harmless and let go but there was no parent who entered that hall without making note of the exits. Two hours later, as we filed out, I and virtually every relieved parent thought and said the same thing: “One more year like the last one and next year there will be no Parents Day. Another month or two like the previous ones and there might be no school left open.”
Since December 27, 2007 – the dreadful winter’s day when streets across Pakistan fell silent in the aftermath of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistanis have understood and expressed in varying degrees, or disagreed in desperate denial, that the Islamization project unleashed by the United States and implemented by the Pakistani military since 1979 had turned on its creators, snarling at the United States, devouring Pakistan and exposing its army for the megalomaniac but intensely incompetent institution that it is. And the narrative of impending disaster, brutal dispossession and disembodied lives in exile for stateless citizens harking back pathetically to a lost life, hitherto the preserve of Palestinians and Cubans, Afghans, Somalis and the ethnic mosaic of the Balkans, beckons to Pakistanis as well. One could argue that Pakistanis are scared of a future comprising daily doses of floggings, beheadings, daisy cutters and drones. They might be too. But no one has had time to think that far ahead. The truth is more prosaic: After all, if your children cannot go to school, the future has ceased to be. And when societies cannot have a future, they die. Continue reading
Mahjabeen has sent us this heartfelt piece from Peshawar
I opened the newspaper two days ago and read the news of the deal with the Taliban in Swat and the decision to sign the Nizam-e-Adal Regulation for the Malakand Division by the federal and the NWFP Governments. And, my heart sank. The state especially the political parties had capitulatd.
On the same page a well-know journalist had hailed the move and later on T.V I also saw a prominent journalist and the ANP praising this decision. The journalist was making it appear like a landmark peace deal, a moment to rejoice, a great event. In fact, it was being said that the whole nation was rejoicing. My question is what was the whole fuss about, what were they celebrating? This is like getting your child back after paying a heavy ransom to the kidnappers and then inviting the kidnappers for a tea party! Who asked the people of Pakistan or of the Malakand Division whether they supported such a move? Continue reading
Since 9/11, Westerners have tried two approaches to fight terrorism in Pakistan, President Bush’s and Greg Mortenson’s.
Mr. Bush has focused on military force and provided more than $10 billion — an extraordinary sum in the foreign-aid world — to the highly unpopular government of President Pervez Musharraf. This approach has failed: the backlash has radicalized Pakistan’s tribal areas so that they now nurture terrorists in ways that they never did before 9/11.
Mr. Mortenson, a frumpy, genial man from Montana, takes a diametrically opposite approach, and he has spent less than one-ten-thousandth as much as the Bush administration. He builds schools in isolated parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, working closely with Muslim clerics and even praying with them at times.
The only thing that Mr. Mortenson blows up are boulders that fall onto remote roads and block access to his schools.
Mr. Mortenson has become a legend in the region, his picture sometimes dangling like a talisman from rearview mirrors, and his work has struck a chord in America as well. His superb book about his schools, “Three Cups of Tea,” came out in 2006 and initially wasn’t reviewed by most major newspapers. Yet propelled by word of mouth, the book became a publishing sensation: it has spent the last 74 weeks on the paperback best-seller list, regularly in the No. 1 spot.
Now Mr. Mortenson is fending off several dozen film offers. “My concern is that a movie might endanger the well-being of our students,” he explains.
Mr. Mortenson found his calling in 1993 after he failed in an attempt to climb K2, a Himalayan peak, and stumbled weakly into a poor Muslim village. The peasants nursed him back to health, and he promised to repay them by building the village a school. Continue reading