We don't need a school like Jamia Hafsa
Jamia Hafsa, the Lal Masjid burqa brigade school, has been granted permission to rebuild in Sector H-11 - why?
The Islamabad administration has given the city a much needed gift on the eve of the new year. With education already in a hole and extremism showing no signs of fading, city bosses, under the guidance of our beloved fruit-alchemist interior minister, have decided to grant Jamia Hafsa, the Lal Masjid burqa brigade school, permission to rebuild in Sector H-11.
While the Supreme Court ruling on the matter called for an equivalent area of land to be turned over in compensation, the esteemed city authorities went one better by granting the land-grabbing, hate speech-espousing Abdul Aziz, a part-time religious leader, some 20 kanals of land to build on. The original Jamia Hafsa legally controlled less than half a kanal, which strangely enough, remains under Lal Masjid’s control.
Why can’t I get a property deal like this?
Why the question of Jamia Hafsa’s status as a school hasn’t risen remains a mystery. According to a BBC piece written prior to Operation Sunrise, the seminary taught subjects including geography, math and computers. Except they were not tested on anything except Islam. The administration claimed that the students did not need any other education or testing. That’s the equivalent of showing a cadet a picture of a gun and counting that as enough military training to go fight the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Jamia Hafsa did store a cache of weapons and explosives to help train the male seminary students in the fine arts of extortion and terrorism. Curiously, although the two fields are completely un-Islamic, the mosque administration conducted practical tests and exams in both.
Computer class was conducted using five systems for 6,000 students with no internet access, and according to a teacher, consisted of “how to shut down the computer, and how to start it. Basic IT.” It’s amazing that the entire student body wasn’t hired by Microsoft or Google.
Jamia Hafsa is just the kind of “educational institute” we don’t need more of. The kind that, at best, churns out unqualified, functionally illiterate youngsters living under the illusion that they have a Master’s equivalent degree and wondering why they can’t get jobs.
I wonder if that qualifies me as an Aalim.
Back to the point, it is more likely that they are taught the same hate-fuelled interpretation of faith that is espoused in seminaries along the Afghan border, where graduate programmes in becoming a human firework are given special prestige.
Before you take offence to this, remember the soldiers who embraced martyrdom during the siege. They died doing God’s work. They died protecting us from the results of Ziaul Haq’s folly, just like many of their brothers in arms have died to protect Pakistan from the contents of the Pandora’s Box opened by the late dictator, and left open by the military policymakers that followed.
Abdul Aziz, the firebrand Lal Masjid cleric who in true chickenhawk fashion tried to escape from the mosque during the operation while wearing a burqa, is a free man. How a man responsible for ordering kidnapping, arson, assault and eventually, acts of treason (taking up arms against the state), can freely walk the streets is beyond me. How the prosecution failed to prove that the actions of the Lal Masjid brigade and the cleric himself constitute criminal guilt is beyond me. Rumour has it that anti-Musharraf sentiment was at play. Unfortunately, if true, it would be yet another example of those in power making decisions based on personal opinion rather than merit.
When General Musharraf tried to close this chapter, he was called an evil dictator by the same mullah politicos who refused to call a spade a spade, or suicide bombing an un-Islamic act. Giving credit where it is due, Musharraf, dictator or not, left wilfully, not at the barrel of a gun, and not via an exploding case of mangoes or after losing half the country. He tried to right one of the greatest wrongs committed by his predecessors, and with all due respect to the courts that he failed to manipulate, it was the same courts that stopped him from doing Islamabad and the rest of the country a huge favour.