Ostrich’s Syndrome

by Ahsan Fraz

The Pakistan Protection Ordinance was passed by the National Assembly of the country on 7th April this year with a heavy majority and now the bill is ready to be presented in the Senate for their approval. The bill, if passed by the senate, will give more powers to police and other security forces. They can kill, arrest and search anybody without warrant who may appear suspicious on any of the many grounds stated in the ordinance. There is much hue and cry over this bill in opposition and debates are going on in media about the austerity of the bill. The nub of the hitch is overlooked once more as the bill is not even close to what is indispensable.

It looks like that the government is avoiding the real problem as in an ostrich’s syndrome. The madrassas which are spread in every nook and corner of the Pakistan are the real source of extremists who, when graduate from these madrassas, challenge the writ of the state and conspire against the state. The clerics who control the minds of such elements inject hatred for the society in these young men, mostly juveniles. These members of the religious clergy play with the innocent minds of the young children and demonstrate only their angle of the picture so that they can use the young hot blood for their callous cause. There are more than 22000 operational madrassas spread across the country against 246 madrassas at the dawn of Pakistan. Only 188 of these madrassas are registered with the government. These institutions are the breeding grounds of the future terrorist which will ultimately connive against their own homeland as the elements, who don’t even recognize the constitution of Pakistan, are running them. These religious fanatics give suicide decree,which is strongly forbidden in Islam, for accomplishing their revolting agendas.

One thing, which is extremely ambiguous, is the source of finances these madrassas rely on. Nobody knows the real sources as they feed thousands of students in their institutions. Nobody can challenge these elements as they hold the key to spread the unrest in the country and they can rally masses on the streets in the Islam. Media highlights them vaguely but with extreme cautiousness as the channel pointing out them can be their next target. They appear on talk shows frequently and support their orthodox interpretation of sharia law and Islam. The hosts of the talk show fear them and ask only questions which suit their agenda.

Another concern is the hate speeches delivered against different sects which causes unrest in the country. 2090 people have been killed in sectarian attacks since 2008 according to official figures though I believe that the count will be much more. In all these killings only 173 people have been convicted but not proven guilty or reprimanded till now.

The poor educational facilities provided by the government results in more recruits for these madrassas. In her book The Jihad Next Door, Dina Temple-Raston states that the religious schools have become a necessity in Pakistan where government spends just 2 % of its GDP on public schools. The result: 55 % of the Pakistani population is literate and what few government schools do exist either don’t have buildings or books or in the case of nearly three quarters of them, no electricity. Parents without means who want to improve their children’s prospects have no choice but to place them in the madrassa system. The children might end up with a rigidly traditional education but at least it is something.

Pakistan Protection Ordinance is of no real essence as far as the national security is concern. Pakistan cannot become a protected state until and unless a strong and stern policy is applied towards these madrassas. The budget for education should be increased and an education policy should be framed while keeping in view all the necessities. Hard and inflexible approach is needed to stop the overflowing of the extremists who are causing severe damage to the society, economy and culture of Pakistan.

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