giovedì 29 maggio 2014

The War Against Education in Pakistan - Girls away from education

The Huffington Post
Throughout the years of turmoil and instability in Pakistan, the education sector has remained a central target of all parties engaged in armed conflicts. Enraged over thethreats from an underground Islamic extremist organization that led to the forceful closure of girls' schools in Pakistan's largest province of Balochistan earlier this month, the public has come out on roads to expostulate over the ban.
The government's response to the extremist group's warnings has been totally unsatisfactory which has, in a way, sent a message of encouragement to those who want to keep girls away from education. Dozens of girls' schools remain shut in the Pakistan-Iran border town of Panjgur simply because the government is either unwilling or unable to provide them security from armed religious fanatics. Pakistan's federal and provincial governments' response is inadequate to push back theopponents of girls' education and inculcate a sense of security among the threatened young female students.

Increasing public protests in Balochistan demanding the continuity of girls' education and elimination of extremist groups challenges Pakistan's state-sponsored narrative about the resource-rich province. For years, Pakistan's civil and military rulers have cleverly skirted their responsibilities with regards to educating Balochistan. Islamabad has absurdly created this impression that the people of Balochistan are not interested in sending their children to schools. Now that thousands of parents and students are marching on the roads asking for uninterrupted education for the daughters of Balochistan, the government is missing.

The Pakistani media, with the help of the central government, has promoted this perception across the board about Balochistan that the tribal chiefs of the province oppose construction of schools and the promotion of education among the people because the tribal chiefs fear losing control over the local population once everyone starts going to school. In theory, it makes a logical argument but in reality the landscape in Balochistan isn't black and white.

The tribal chiefs, who oppose the promotion of education in Balochistan, are actually permanent members of the Pakistani ruling establishment. In spite of not enjoying ample support among the masses, these pro-Islamabad tribal chiefs have been aided by the Pakistani intelligence services from generation to generation to get elected to public office and then guard Islamabad's interests in Balochistan. As long as Islamabad continues to patronize these tribal chiefs, Balochistan's legislature will comprise of politicians who will refrain from imparting education among the local population. An informed population will most likely rise against the central government's excessive exploitation of Balochistan's mineral resources. Hence, there is a need to halt and annihilate the factory that churns out and imposes pro-establishment politicians on Balochistan.


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