Extremism in Pakistani Educational institutions
Extremism in Pakistani Educational institutions is increasing with every passing day and alarm bells are ringing. We are living in a world of extremists hidden in the faces of professors, scholars, students, ministers, political leaders and intellectuals. In this country, the curse of extremism and terrorism spread in the name of religion has a lot of links with educational and religious institutes. It is though difficult to understand the relation between educational and religious institutions and extremism but these institutes have been slowly leeching the life out of the people of Pakistan. Educational institutions have a role in society to serve as catalysts of civilization, modernization, peace and stability of the country. Educational Institutions, professors and scholars are playing a role in order to prevent the development of extremists and terror related activities. However, some institutes in Pakistan have instead contributed a lot to the rise of the likes of Khadim Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri and Mumtaz Qadri as national heroes and saviors of the religion.
Successive governments and regimes have failed to address this issue in a justifiable manner. It has been due to the failure of these governments that these extremists now hold a sacred place in some peoples’ hearts. The inadequacy of these regimes in order to produce a purposeful curriculum for educational institutes and madrassas alike has resulted in the rise of extremists and extremism. The government holds no authority over most of the madrassas which has contributed to extremism. Sacred religious issues are now solved through guns and not through sensible debates and religious means. Due to the incompetency of the government to provide better basic education, most of the parents are compelled to send their children to madrassas despite wishing not to and resulting in their children being converted into terrorists and extremists.
The Zia Regime – A Failed Foreign Policy
Due to an improper policy and dollars being allegedly involved, Pakistan fought the US-choreographed Anti-Soviet War in Afghanistan with blood of its own, the brave sons and daughters of the soil. The Soviet Incursion in Afghanistan caused one of the biggest influx of Afghan refugees into Pakistan and establishing madrassas became the need of time. These platforms were exploited to radicalize a large number of Pakistanis, Afghans and Muslims all over the world to be the meat in the grinder for America’s War against the Red Terror. Having no better options, the parents had to put their children in these engineered madrassas which taught militancy rather than education. The Islamization of Zia’s regime also led to an increase in extremism and terrorism in the name of religion.
The Musharraf Era – Forcing Pakistan into the Line of Fire
In the name of War against Terror, Musharraf pushed the country into another bloodbath in Afghanistan, the US invasion of 2001. Musharraf provided the US with airbases and the route for NATO supplies in Afghanistan in alleged exchange for dollars, the soil of homeland sold in greed of dollars. This American incursion resulted in yet another terrorist bloom in the tribal regions of Pakistan, which soon enveloped the country in one of the most dreadful war of all times, terrorism and extremism. The military operations in the tribal areas by Pakistan in 2002 and later paved the way for the annihilation of social and economic structure, precisely targeting the educational sector and the tribal men were then used as cannon fodder for the ongoing proxy war. With the loss of basic education and left with no other educational means, the children were taught the religion by the terrorists and extremists who thought of themselves as harbingers of peace. It was precisely that time which set the foundations for the modern extremism in educational institutes.
Extremism – Taught in Schools?
The rise of likes of Khadim Rizvi and Mumtaz Qadri as national and political heroes for whom some people are ready to lay their lives down in the name of religion are the real causes of the sprout of extremism in educational institutes. Extremists of today do not yield arms but books, they do not keep a gun in their holster but a board marker, their weapon is now not a sword but a pen. The illiterate are easily manipulated and influenced by the literate who use them as petty toys to achieve their barbaric aims. Under the guise of a degree, education and proclaimed knowledge, intellectuals are like wolves in a sheep’s clothing, slowly and covertly chipping away the moral and ethical values of our society. Students are now more and more like mindless zombies who follow without question, think without doubt and accept without inquiring.
Jamat-ud-Dawah (formerly Lashkar-e-Tayiba) runs around 135 secondary schools and countless madrassas in the country. What can you expect from a country where a globally acknowledged terrorist Hafiz Saeed runs a chain of educational institutes?
What can you expect from a country where a leader of a terrorist organization known for planning attacks on Shia minorities in Pakistan and also fueling the same activities in Iran runs a number of madrassas and holds a place in a provincial assembly?
Extremist attacks include the massacre of ethnic communities such as the Hazara and killing of an active governor who tried to protect a non-Muslim lady. Examples of extremism in educational institutes include the recent murder of a professor in a college in Bahawalpur and the planned killing of Mashal Khan in Abdul Wali Khan University. The successive governments have tried to blame foreign funding as the root cause of extremism in Pakistan and particularly in educational institutes. No fool proof plan has yet been decided by the government to end this ruthless menace spreading its roots in educational institutes of Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the only 12 countries in the world which spend less than 2 percent of its GNP on education, in other words, harboring illiteracy and extremism among its children. There is a strong need to form a sound plan to exterminate this vicious curse of extremism. If not, there will be no arguments against Pakistan being declared as a failed terrorist state. Extremism in Pakistani Educational institutions is menace which needs to be tackled on priority basis other wise dire consequences are waiting for Pakistani society.
Author: Maaz Shakil is student of LLB in Law Department, Islamia University of Bahawalpur.