Desi in DC

September 11, 2007

The Talibanization of Northern Pakistan

As I read the Dawn, I suddenly notice an increasing number of violent stories coming out of Northern Pakistan. No I am not referring to the clash between the military and tribes in Waziristan. I am referring to news stories about a missionary school closing down in NWFP after the school was threated with suicide bombings and was asked to replace all its non muslim teachers with muslim teachers (http://www.dawn.com/2007/09/10/nat18.htm)

A second news item speaks about how local Pashtho singers have given up their profession and are looking for other means to earn a living after repeatedly being threatened this time again with bombings and suicide bombings (http://www.dawn.com/2007/09/10/nat6.htm)

A third  article speaks about how parents are being warned that their daughters will be killed if spotted without a burqa on their way to or back from school.

Reading these articles I shiver in fear, for what I am reading does not describe the country that I know. We are reaping the benefits of our  Zia era  now and the government needs to make changes to the educational system in the madrassas now for there to be a change for the positive 15 years from now. It is important to remember that one of the most essential lessons in peacebuilding is timing. We need to be willing to invest time and effort and wait for the results rather then trying to constantly come up with shortcuts that keep backfiring on us.

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So then we go back to an essential question. What are we doing? Are we going to stay quiet and not react while these so called protectors of faith decide what faith should be?

I went to a convent school, all 13 years of it, so did my sister, for those of us in the family who didn’t study in a convent we received our education in a Zorastrian institute. These schools are sadly the only few schools that provide a quality education at an affordable price within the country. I believe the two important things that the school did was 1) make me more tolerant towards other religions, and B)  made me more knowledgable about my own, since I also felt the school wanted to prove to the society that they were not preaching their religion and hence made an extra effort for us to know about our religion.

I know so many people who studied with “muslim teachers” and knew less about it then we did in a “non muslim” school.

Now that I think about it, maybe in the ancient days the Chinese were Muslims and that’s why the Prophet said (PBUH) that A man or woman should go to China if need be to get an education. What other possible explanation could there possibly if one is to follow the logic that these “protectors” of faith have! Or Maybe it could just be that education is so important that it is immaterial who provides it, that providing an education is a social good that should be appreciated no matter who is providing it.

I guess the choice between the two explanation lies within us!

Over and out.

May God Protect Pakistan! Ameen

a very worried Pakistani

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