Education is the last defence

Published: March 15, 2011
The writer is a freelance print and broadcast journalist

The writer is a freelance print and broadcast journalist

The Pakistan Educational Task Force has missed a trick. For those unaware, the Pakistan Educational Task Force is a national initiative mandated by the prime minister of Pakistan in October 2009, and supported by the UK government, to support the implementation of a new National Education Policy for Pakistan. Its members include the federal and provincial secretaries of education, leading non-government and private sector representatives, international experts and representatives of major donor agencies. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you’ve probably been alerted to their ‘March for Education’ campaign.

As media campaigns go, this has been extremely effective in highlighting the sorry plight of education in Pakistan. Not that it was too difficult. The compelling and grim statistics are powerful enough in telling their own story. One in 10 of the world’s children not in primary school live in Pakistan. There are 26 poorer countries than Pakistan that send more children to primary school. One-third of all Pakistani children of primary school-going age, a larger proportion of girls than boys, are not in school at all. One could go on. But this campaign has missed an opportunity. Firstly, it has primarily appealed to you and I — the Facebook wallahs, the bleeding-heart liberals and the twittering English-speaking elite. Secondly, and the very reason it appealed to us, it focused primarily on the economic and social problems that such an education deficit causes within Pakistan. Meanwhile, the rest of Pakistan yawns and continues to ignore the problems.

Perhaps, instead, the campaign should have focused more on a different audience — the military, right-wing populist TV anchors, and the middle classes. How does one attract such groups to seriously consider education policy? Fear. Appeal to their base instincts — their nationalism, their xenophobia and their paranoia. Couch the terms of the debate in the form of a security problem, rather than an economic or social one. There’s nothing like fear to galvanise a lethargic audience. And when it comes to the plight of education in Pakistan, there is a lot to be fearful about.

For the property-owning, business-running middle class, forewarn them of the dire consequence to their own assets if education levels remain at the status quo. With a population set to rise to 340 million by the middle of this century, from 180 million today, what will an uneducated, unskilled, unemployed youth be like for their economic interests? You cannot compete and remain relevant in a globalised world with an unskilled workforce. More importantly, we’ll see the emergence of class warfare. When the revolution comes, and it will come if education remains at current levels, it will be the middle class that risks losing the most at the hands of an angry and frustrated youth. Bloody revolutions are never good for the bourgeoisie. Have I got your attention yet?

For the rabid hyper-nationalists, we should be waxing lyrical on how a robust education policy will restore Muslim pre-eminence and power in the world. Historian Niall Ferguson has persuasively argued in his latest book that the emergence of a dominant West and a declining Islamic East was due to the divergent paths these two civilisations took towards knowledge in the 16th and 17th centuries. Western rulers embraced education and the age of science. Power was taken away from the priests and the clergy and the secular state emerged. Scientific advancements ultimately led to breakthroughs in weaponry, further cementing the West’s advantage. Meanwhile, Muslim scholars, once the most pioneering scientists in the world, were denied access to this free flow of ideas emerging in the West. Clericism curtailed the spread of knowledge in the Islamic world. In 1515, an Ottoman decree threatened anyone with death if they were caught involved in printing. Reading of printed books was banned, whilst calligraphy and the Ottoman script was deemed sacred. This view did not change until the 18th century, and by then it was too late. The Islamic East had been left behind; the failure to reconcile Islam and science had proved fatal for the Ottoman Empire.

If that little history lesson doesn’t get their chauvinistic blood pumping, we should be screaming about India. India is kicking our backsides in education. India is on track to meet its educational millennium goals, whilst we have zero chance of meeting ours. Hindustan is reducing the numbers of its young children that are out of school at 10 times the rate that Pakistan is. This educational superiority is already leading to growing scientific advancement and economic clout. And we know from our history lesson above what growing scientific advances and economic clout lead to — yep, greater military power. This should be hammered home again and again in Rawalpindi.

But we have the ultimate weapon, you may say? Yes, we have the nuclear bomb. But the other nations with the bomb also have the soft power — technological and economic influence — to underpin their military threat. We are a skinny, stupid kid with a big stick compared to the likes of Israel, India, the US, the UK, and China. They are the far bigger, smarter kids with exactly the same stick. Which side wins?

But will the generals really believe that an enlarged educational budget, perhaps at the detriment of their own defence budget, will provide greater internal and external security for Pakistan in the long term? It remains to be seen. But General Kayani should perhaps heed Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s prophetic warning from 1947, “education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan. The world is progressing so rapidly that without the requisite advance in education, not only shall we be left behind others, but we may be wiped out altogether.” With Pakistan’s approaching demographic time bomb, coupled with its current chronic failure in education policy, Mr Jinnah may be proved right sooner than even he imagined. You have been warned.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (75)

  • wahab
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:12PM

    Super likeRecommend

  • shay
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:19PM

    i thought you were gone for good.Recommend

  • Mango Man
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:24PM

    George!! i just want to say “Good to see you again, we love you”. Keep writing for Pakistan :)Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:29PM

    Well said, George. Keep it coming. The forces against the illumination of the human mind are cloaking their opposition through the military-mullah axis. Eventually, perhaps late, the power of the pen will prevail over the power of the gun..Recommend

  • IZ
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:37PM

    And exactly what kind of education will the rabid hyper-nationalists etc etc be pumping into the minds of our kids? Doesn’t quality count or should our focus only be on quantity?
    Also, please do try and quote a historian with some kind of credibility next time. Niall Ferguson? Puh-leeze!Recommend

  • Mastishhk
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:48PM

    @George……I thought u left !!!Recommend

  • ani
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:48PM

    Well said. Now who has the courage to change what they teach in Pakistan? You can only see the world through the “Islamic” lens for so long. But Pakistani leaders seem fully committed to their path of total Islamic embrace no matter what the facts and costs are. Recommend

  • SI
    Mar 15, 2011 - 11:50PM

    Right on George!!!!!!!!!!! Agree with you 100%. As always you have hit the nail on the head. Pakistan’s problem is mismanagement and corruption. If these could be tackled ; things would start to fall into place.Recommend

  • MH
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:07AM


    Thanks for writing this. I hate the fact that you’re leaving Pakistan, but at least you’ve gotten through to some very thick skulls around here. Great piece. Stay safe and happy. Recommend

  • XX
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:27AM

    Hm.. this is surely all the fault of the generals. If Zardari and the democratic gang had it their way, Pakistan would already by a fully educated country. Just look at the figures – I mean, look at what happened to education during General Musharraf’s time, and how education is increasing today under ‘democracy’.
    (Yes, sarcasm intended.)
    George, just stop trying man.Recommend

  • Sajid I. Barcha
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:37AM

    Realistic and a pragmatic piece of writing.Recommend

  • Mar 16, 2011 - 12:41AM

    General saabs children are safely tucked away in private schools and foreign institutions. Right wing tv pundits kids are safely tucked away in private schools and foreign institutions. Middle class property owning parents send their kids to private schools and foreign institutions.

    As long as we attach our national pride to PIA and Pakistan Steel, as if there continuing loss making functioning somehow enhances a Pakistanis prestige and is more worthy than educating our children – little will change on the ground.

    Those who wanted to feed intolerance into our young, recognized the value of mis-education from the 1980s when the Saudi funded wahabi Madrassas started popping up. That we dont give as must or even more importance to education to counter their threat just shows that where or priorities lie. Recommend

  • Raza
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:44AM

    I do not agree with you. Having been born and educated in London, and now living in Lahore, I think the standard of education is far higher here, than in the UK.

    LUMS is better than King’s College London (where I went), LSE, UCL etc. My niece is an undergraduate at LUMS, and she got 5 A Grades at A Level. In fact, most of her class mates got the same grades.

    Similarly, whether its Aga Khan, GIK, King Edward Medical College,UET – the standard is incredibly high. That is why students from there, have no problem getting jobs abroad.

    Children in Pakistan are more hard working, brighter, and much more ambitious than similar aged children from the UK.

    Their counterparts in England are lazy, ill mannered yobs, most of whom can’t spell or even communicate properly.Recommend

  • Talha
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:16AM

    Haven’t you left George?

    The problem is that you can take yourself out of Pakistan but you cannot take Pakistan out of yourself.

    Welcome back, hope you have a good time.Recommend

  • Talha
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:17AM

    You can shape this nation by preaching to its people.

    Once things are better, you should run for President.Recommend

  • Mahmood
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:19AM

    Pakistan has progressed towards her downfall way faster than we or anyone else would have expected.We have to admit the fact that the person who is running our education board is not at all interested in improving the education system.All they want is,in their language,”Daalar($)”.But yeah I believe that with this,the growing corruption in Pakistan,we have to realize that we,as being the citizens of Pakistan,aren’t doing anything to save our country.We would proudly send our kids abroad for their education,we would die for dual nationality the “Amreekan” or “Canadian” green card but none of us would consider the fact that why are we sending our kids abroad,why don’t we feel safe in making our children acquire their education from their own country?No for this question people would come up with answers like this-Have you seen the economic turmoil in our country,have you seen the condition of our country referring to the bomb blasts and an endless chain of answers supporting their decision but no one would encourage their children to do something to change this country.We certainly don’t have any Jinnah or Benjamin Franklin here but yeah we can at least try to create someone like them.Can’t we?Why can’t the bigger schools in our country provide a full scholarship to only one deserving student(Students who belong to the poor class)?We,no doubt,have Government schools but have you seen people except those belonging to the poor class,sending their children to government schools?No and this is absolutely correct.Why would they send their children to a school which doesn’t offer a good educational system.Why would they?Do they offer anything good?Would they secure their future by going to these schools?Would they acquire true knowledge other than the “RATTA” stuff?No they won’t.Have you seen anyone from a government school in Pakistan going to a foreign university on a scholarship on the basis of his/her school performance in Pakistan?But we find many Indian students who,without following the British educational system(O and A Levels)and without using American high school system,are there in foreign universities on scholarships?Why?Do they have something special?Are they the blessed ones?Have you seen anyone willingly coming back to his/her country after acquiring their education from foreign countries to be more precise after learning their-GORAS-expertise like the Chinese people do?No,we send our children to England to make them Chartered Accountants,We send our children to America to become Doctors.Would they(Parents)ever encourage them to come back to their motherland after completing their MD program in America and start practicing in Pakistan?Never,why would they encourage them to leave dollars for a few Pakistani rupees?That’s actually logical.I can bet that more than 50% of our officials in educational system are not even Matriculates.We find our educational system condemning the British educational system but actually they should be thankful to them for providing this system here because they have truly given our students a world recognition.Students in Pakistan do go to foreign universities on the basis of their O and A level performances and that is a blessing but here we see our educational system trying to take this blessing away from our country.We have talent in our country,why not unite and do something to nourish this talent?Why can’t we be selfless and do something for our country?If not for our country then can we do something for humanity?It’s not a matter of you and me,it’s a matter of one whole generation,are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for our Mother(Pakistan)?Are we ready to bring a change,if not then we should get ready before it gets too late to save our country.Recommend

  • sceptic ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:22AM

    While at it, I wish my compatriots, particularly the intellectual types, would revisit Pakistan’s pre-Islamic history and share it with the nation. Before the advent of Islam, Pakistan housed universities like, Taxila, where students from far flung places like China, Tibet, Eastern India, and even some Arab kingdoms, came to learn subjects like, philosophy, theology, and mathematics.
    We have to much to be proud of about our ancestors, who were to not just “kaafirs” defeated by the Arabs, but a multi faceted people, living in highly complex societies whose knowledge was plagiarized by the conquering people who, to their credit, preserved it, and in some instances even improved upon it before sharing it the west.
    By embracing our pre-Islamic history, inshallah, we might be able to solve the question whose answer has been eluding us since 1947 -i.e., Pakistan’s identity; which can only be solved by embracing the ruins of mohen-jo, daro/harrappa and the knowledge developed over centuries by OUR ancestors in places like Taxila and Swat valley, not distant Arabia.Recommend

  • Blunt
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:29AM

    You haven’t already left? Run for your life man! Go Out of this country.Recommend

  • Blithe
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:45AM

    I couldn’t agree more with your arguments on education
    and a youth buldge that is more a liability at this stage.
    BUT I take offense to the way you have interjected our
    nuclear assets into all this.

    George , the entire budget of Pakistan
    is about the same as India’s defense budget.
    We have a long standing issue on India’s
    illegal occupation of Kashmir. We need to have
    a minimum deterrence and you need to respect
    our needs on that front.

    If Nehru had not had that affair with Lady Mountbatten the way he did,
    India would have had a land route to Kashmir. And india could
    never have illegally occupy Kashmir. The English continue to look at the
    present issue in Kasmir as bystanders.
    No moral courage whatsoever!

    And here is another Englishman telling us : “you have been warned.”Recommend

  • sceptic ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:21AM

    Moderator – Why wasn’t my previous comment allowed to be posted? Recommend

  • sandy
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:29AM

    huh, u still around??Recommend

  • Nageen
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:43AM

    @Raza, Mr Fulton is bringing scarcity primary education in limelight and the deprived children.
    I hope Gen Kiyani gets to read this.Recommend

  • __FundaMental
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:36AM

    @ Raza,

    When will the apologists stop? No one is comparing the standard of education in Pakistan with that of UK (which is, in itself, a very ridiculous comparison considering that students who can afford higher education abroad don’t stick around in Pakistan). You talk about LUMS, GIK, LSE etc etc as if our masses go to these institutions. What percentage of Pakistanis can actually afford to send their children to these institutions? Here we are talking about ‘basic education’ starting from ‘primary’ level. By reading your comment, which reeks of ignorance, arrogance and self-deception, I can safely say that affluent Pakistanis live on fluffy clouds where everything is warm and pretty. Get out of your comfort zone, go to government schools where kids can’t spell or read simple sentences and then decide. It is easier to pass judgements like that with little or no information about the realities.

    This is the general opinion of many educated people in Pakistan. Sadly, it speaks volumes of the self-imposed distance between socio-economic classes. We don’t know about the plight of masses because we chose not to know it. What doesn’t affect us doesn’t exist for us. We glorify our ignorance by being vocal about it. Recommend

  • ihtisham khan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:39AM

    @ reza…true…but what about the rest of the country??… how many can study at LUMS or king edward…there are 180 can u compare pakistan education with UK??..fine ..the standard for entry is higher because thousands apply for limited seats…..ofcourse they will have more higher grades..of 180 million u are selecting a few hundreds…….Recommend

  • John
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:44AM

    A doctor for a comment I wrote on PAK military budget replied that people in Pakistan “will sacrifice their education and health” as a way of justifying their military excesses. If that is the mind set of educated elites, then the question now is :
    What kind of education will be implemented with the UK education aid to Pakistan?

    Best yard stick is to check on the girls school where you taught for a day.Recommend

  • Ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:48AM

    Yes, but how much of Paksitan attends institutes like LUMS?
    The UK has a population a third of our size but numerous great institutes. I disagree that LUMS is better than Kings College, Kings has a world class faculty in Maths, Engineering, their research is published widely; it once was home to James Clerk Maxwell and numerous great scientists. However leaving that aside they have numerous univerisities far better than Kings. LUMS comes close to being the best we have.Recommend

  • Mar 16, 2011 - 3:49AM

    @Raza: you are speaking of a very very small minority of children in Pakistan who are able to appear in O and A Level exams and attend LUMS. When a majority of Pakistani children have access to such institutions then it will be something to be proud off, putting England down is not going to place the millions of out of school children into schools. Recommend

  • Ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:52AM

    George, I like the way you think.
    However comapred to India we already run our military on shoe string budget. Our air force is under strength vis a vis India.
    What we need to do is raise extra money via taxation, this may require the help of the army and then plough every cent into education.
    Tax the elites till they scream.Recommend

  • Mar 16, 2011 - 4:01AM


    you have hit the right notes and chords

    but those who matter and can alleviate are tone deafRecommend

  • Singh
    Mar 16, 2011 - 4:35AM

    @ Raza,

    Read whole piece first, understand it then comment. Now you judge yourself of your education.
    Pity you.Recommend

  • rai hammad
    Mar 16, 2011 - 4:50AM

    surely, it is the basic problem of our nation……but,our bhottos and sharifs r building over head bridges and roads rather spending precious money on education………..pitty on themRecommend

  • Usama Zafar
    Mar 16, 2011 - 4:52AM

    Simply Awesome!!!Recommend

  • Riz
    Mar 16, 2011 - 5:26AM

    @Raza take off your 1% elite glasses and look at the poverty stricken, uneducated real Pakistan with alarmingly crazy problems. Putting your head in sand won’t help anymore.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 16, 2011 - 6:15AM

    Getting A grade and finding jobs overseas is not what George F is talking about. If that is what you get out his article, then your Kings College education is a colossal waste. For your benefit, let me summarize. He is talking about children who come to school but yet find no teachers, he is talking about the poor curricula that do not give them means to analyze and understand the world, and all alike. He cares less about those who attend LUMS and alike.

    He is talking about the back bone of Pakistan who one day will be serving in Pakistan military, run it’s bureaucracy, serve as elders in rural village, will become the father and mother of future generations of Pakistan people and elect it’s leaders.

    Investment in education takes 30 years to pay the dividend. Can you honestly say that the schools about which George is talking about are better today as compared to what they were ten years ago?

    Getting A grade is the easy part. On what subject you are getting A grade and how you apply them in life is the important part. Recommend

  • Truthseeker
    Mar 16, 2011 - 6:16AM

    Within next forty years( more than three years of an average Afghan age which is 36.5)Pakistan will turn into the most ‘dreadful’ nation on this planet, not because it will have more nuclear devices than Great Britain; but because its population will be more than 340,000,000.And certainly these are not those numbers which will make the holy prophet of Islam(pubh) ‘very proud’ on the Day of Judgement.

    “Bloody revolutions are not good for bourgeoisie”, but in Pakistan this segment of society is smugly exploiting the fatalistic aspect of religion for the upkeep of ‘status quo’. Military Officers, bureaucrats, politicians, landlords, industrialists, businessmen, money managers, stock holders and affluent people can be categorised as ‘Haves’ of the society. These ‘haves’ have cunningly devised ways and means to keep the financial/economic/monetary resources under their grip; and they are not willing to share them, with other significant portion of population belonging to the category of ‘have nots’ of Pakistan.

    Pakistan, a country having the ominous distinction of a nuclear power, whose GDP per capita is compatible with Nicaragua ( a country unknown to more than eighty percent of Pakistanis), is difficult to accede to a revolutionary change. George Fulton is not going to succeed to get the ears of the ‘have nots’, because the ‘haves’ are aware of the fact that George does not have access to the pulpit. The survival of the ‘haves’ lies in keeping the deprivation looming large for the ‘have nots’, by denying them the tree of education, which will bear the fruits of knowledge and wisdom for them. Once they have tasted this fruit, they will demand their share of resources, which was their right, but always denied to them.

    In medieval Europe, it was ‘elite class’ backed by clergy which had kept the West in the dark ages, to enjoy the luxuries of life, while denying basic necessities of life to the ‘masses’. In today’s Pakistan, the plight of common man is comparable with the common person of European dark ages. The survival prescription for today’s Pakistani is the same as it was for yesterday’s European. George Fulton discovered that prescription when he explained,’ Power was taken away from the priest and the clergy and Secular State emerged’. But alas, the winds of change which could usher in the clouds of modernity, education and knowledge, are absent on Pakistani horizon. The ruling party, the vocal claimant of modernity, secularism and equality has shame facedly taken the refuge of reconciliation, expediency and appeasement to remain in power. The rulers are trembling in their trousers in front of clergy, and are denying basic human rights to the minorities.

    Pakistan is not only devoid of satires like Voltaire’s and sentimental romances of Rousseau’s, which played a role in French revolution; but unlike middle class of France, Pakistani middle class is unwilling to share its fortunes with the masses, hence mass education will remain an illusory dream. The little vision of ‘Danish Schools’ may succeed in creating another ‘elite class’ of few thousands at the cost of tens of millions of uneducated, illiterate, unskilled and un employed.

    Religion has always been exploited for economic gains, and to keep monetary hegemony in the garb of religious piety. The major aim of the Crusades was the capture of trade routes to the East. And the failure of Crusades gave our world the crusaders of our time in the form of USA. When the West lost in the Crusades, it started looking for alternate trade routes to the East, and by accident hit her West and discovered the continent of America.

    Economic realities determine the political expediencies, religious bigotries and cultural norms. ’Demographic Time Bomb’ is more lethal and ruinous for Pakistan, than an accidental domestic nuclear explosion. There is one in million chance of an accidental nuclear catastrophe in Pakistan, but every day hundreds of thousands of (willingly, though) unwanted babies are born, which are future time bombs. Due to religious pressures, government is using half hearted motivational measures to ebb the ‘tsunami’ of babies. Once girls are educated, they will like to have fewer babies; but who will educate the girls, when every day girls schools are targeted by those whose slogan is that ‘ On the day of Judgement prophet of Islam(pbuh) will be proud of the majority(in) numbers of his ummah’.
    Education, population control and economic growth go hand in hand. Economic growth can easily be translated to add to military power; but never in the history of mankind a weak economic power has turned its fortunes, on the basis of military might alone. Soviet Union (with maximum nuclear devices) had weak economic foundations and melted into fifteen independent countries within seven decades.

    For centuries, after the fall of Roman Empire, medieval Europe was the backwater of the world, where literacy was minimal, and conflict was the order of the day ( comparable with Pakistan).Then, Islamic world had the largest library in Baghdad known as ‘House of Wisdom’ under the patronage of Abbasids. Muslims were expanding the frontiers of knowledge, for the benefit of the world. Omar Khayyam- the famous author of ‘Rubaiyat’- was an astronomer too, and without the luxury of today’s digital instruments, calculated the length of the solar year to eleven decimal points. The simple act of five daily Islamic prayers paved the way for accurate determination of time, date and directions which revolutionised the understanding of geographical, environmental and astronomical concepts.

    Economics has always played a major role in history, and the graduates of institutes of higher tactical and strategic education for military hierarchy are aware of this reality. Pakistani Generals should willingly sacrifice considerable portion of defence budget for the advancement of education. Education is not the memorisation of facts, tables, events, names and past history; but education paves the way for the individual who while earning his/her living, can contribute for the moral, mental, technical, social, scientific, economic and cultural upkeep of the nation as a whole. Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 6:41AM

    Which world are u in . Do you or we in India have any univ comparable to oxford or cambridge. How many scientists won Nobel prize working in Pakistan and INdia except one ie CV Raman. I dont mean Pakistanis or Indians, we are as good as any, But working in India or Pakistan, none has recvd any nobel prize except CV Raman. That is a long while ago. If we keep focussing on Mgmt, law and IT, We sure will be left behind. People from US move to Oxford or Cambridge for research work in pure science. We do have to invent new things in Science be it Mathematical/Physical/Biological to improve our health care and alternative sources for everything from energy to rare earths to oil. Once we invent, we can manage. Are we inventing ??????????? Recommend

  • Bilal Khan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 7:06AM

    Sorry but I can’t believe you went to King’s College and then saying ‘Their counterparts in England are lazy, ill mannered yobs, most of whom can’t spell or even communicate properly.’

    Get real … are you comparing our LUMS students with their uneducated ones ? how about a professor in an African country is more educated than a laborer in Pakistan

    How many children in Pakistan are hardworking exactly ? and how many have privilege of going to these private institutions ? IF our education system is that super perfect how come like of you goes to KCL ..

    We wouldn’t be in the state we are in if our education system was good enough and equalRecommend

  • krishna
    Mar 16, 2011 - 7:42AM

    George your articles I read today were spot on. Education is the key to reconstruct the country and what kind of education is important. Wahabi style madrasa’s were top of the range in the 10th century but not quite so sell equipped now. Have they noticed at all that nobody except the Arab world speaks Arabic let alone sees fundamentalism as a world view. It dislocates and isolates and thats not what Pakistan needs. It needs the opposite. Good on you for trying George. But to tell you the truth George I think the military elite for so long and their US backers think they know better. Now look at where the US is going! Think again guys. Bullying only get you so far.Recommend

  • Vin
    Mar 16, 2011 - 8:15AM

    Ha ha.. you are still here? have you become too much of a Pakistani to be accepted back home? Or I guess they think you are a muslim with a son named FAIZ … …Islamophobia Sucks:)… sadly Reality sucks…Recommend

  • Peace On Earth
    Mar 16, 2011 - 8:31AM

    There is a reason why politicians throughout Pakistan’s history paid no heed towards improving the quality of education in our country. Simply put, any educated and literate society posses a threat to political dynasties (e.g. Sharif’s, Bhutto’s, etc) because when the people understand and are able to comprehend what is going on around them, they will voice their concerns and demand or force change to occur.

    @ Raza: Your notion that British children are lazy and unwilling to work hard is a naive way of thinking. Do you really believe that Pakistani’s living abroad work harder than their counterparts?

    Come to places in America and parts of England where you will find “students” who are taking classes at local community college’s only to keep their legal status and not to further their education. These Pakistani’s have no shame in accepting welfare and are too busy partying and having a good time to care about their situation.

    On another note, the Islamic clerics will never want Pakistan to adopt a form of education that focuses on mathematics, writing, communication, and other necessary skills. The clerics want to publish books full of propaganda and hatred and for students to learn only their version of Islam instead of learning about different faiths, ethnic groups, and world history.

    These Islamic clerics will stop at nothing in order to prevent education reformers from retooling the current education model. So long as this group remains a powerful voice, public education for those who cannot afford a private one will remain dismal.Recommend

  • joy
    Mar 16, 2011 - 8:32AM


    u forgot just one point………its a hindu’/zionist/raw/mossad/cia conspiracyRecommend

  • Ahmed
    Mar 16, 2011 - 8:52AM


    You are either stupid. Or, nationalistic. I hope it is the latter, since the former is harder to cure.. If the Pakistani kids are brighter, how is it UK produces more scholars, more nobel laureates, more scientific discoveries, more entrepreneurs, more….you name it. This jingoistic self-delusion that we Pakistanis have is a big reason we always stay behind.Recommend

  • ashok sai
    Mar 16, 2011 - 9:40AM

    @ George

    Eventhough its a well writtened article, you miss a point that Pakistani’s hate to hear anything compared with India which they found to be in a inferior position. May be you can write an article to wipe this mindset.


  • saad
    Mar 16, 2011 - 10:31AM

    George I thought you have left the country. As they say if you can’t contribute to the system stop criticizing it. When you are no longer in the country just stop ‘caring’ for it after all its not your country I dont know why ‘shortcut’ aziz gave you Pakistani citizenship in the first place if you really wanted to integrate into our society then besides marrying a Pakistani lady you should have stood up for a cause of change. Using your initial popularity you could have given Pakistani public hope a hope for a better future. Why talk about internal matters of our country when you have revoked the right to be called a Pakistani.honestly I did not even read your article as I am least interested to hear views of a guy who chickened out….just another ‘gora’ for me. If you can’t bring a change then live like Caitlin Malik..her article here on ET really gives you an insight of how you could have lived in Pakistan without fear.

    George ka Khuda hi Hafiz.Recommend

  • Babar Ali
    Mar 16, 2011 - 11:41AM

    You echoed my sentiments in this article. Very well written.Recommend

  • Hafeez
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:22PM

    For God’s sake we are a far smaller country compared to India. Why is there a need to compare our military budget with India? Right about taxing, but lets do it sector wise, not classwise. I mean agrculture sector needs to be taxed. Recommend

  • Kamran
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:25PM

    Dear George, keep writing about Pakistan wherever you are. And keep visiting us off and on to remain in touch. God bless you.Recommend

  • Quraysh Khattak
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:37PM

    George, you are 100% right. We need to increase our budget for education. Only educated, secular and democratic people can save Pakistan from the looming disasterRecommend

  • Ammar
    Mar 16, 2011 - 12:40PM

    If we study and observe the down fall of Ottoman Empire, Pakistani society seems mirror immage of pre-first world war Turk society. We are following that history bit by bit. It is time for our so called civil society to wake up and prove its existence. Only education can ensure a dynamic civil society and sane viberant youth. In absence of genuine intelligentsia there can be no revolution, only anarchy!Recommend

  • Raj
    Mar 16, 2011 - 1:22PM

    Raza, you have missed the main content of the article!!! what propotion of population can afford to attend the institutions you have mentioned, and how does one achieve that without basic foundation of having primary education?
    Also in regards to the standards being higher than UK, ! well that’s debatable as i see enough young pakistanis seeking chance to study abroad given the opportunity.
    Once again the warning signs are there of the nation having a whole generation of young people without basic education, while the rest of the world is turning out graduates in all the areas. So how is pakistan going to develop its economy and industry ? perhaps via army’s spending power?
    :ast;y i soncerely hope the moderator, does not remove my comment, as they seem to have taken dislike to me!!Recommend

  • Copper
    Mar 16, 2011 - 2:27PM

    Now, hopefully you are out of reach of Pakistani agencies, you can write more liberally. Writing one such article cost you leaving the country, but you can spill out the facts now.
    good to see you back in actionRecommend

  • kinza
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:50PM

    People of Pakistan has nothing to do with education or educated manner . WE love shortcuts , don’t we ?

    No one to blame .WE all are criminals and criminal minded people. Take a look at our life and attitude.

    — traffic signal violation
    — false degrees
    — misuse/overuse of national resources e.g (send million Rs worth sms(worthless) daily while a majority of poor don’t have a bread and breakfast

    — fake medicines
    — women discrimination
    — price hike ( if Govt. increase 1 Rs on pertrol/ltr , We increase 5 Rs on all items )

    etc etc

    I don’t think Army Generals and President asked us to do all these things .

    Did they ?

    We have a special genes which needs to be fix . I think we all need a good doctor to fix this genetical defect , because I have seen most of the educated people do disgrace our nation and Islam. Recommend

  • kinza
    Mar 16, 2011 - 3:54PM

    See we need a moderator for press , who themselves chant slogans for “Freedom of Press and Freedom of Speech”.Recommend

  • vasan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 4:39PM

    Kinza: You have hit the nail on the head. All these malaise are in india also. You have missed out corruption. In India and in Pakistan, ministers are arrested for corruption. We may disagree on many things but are similar in all such criminal acts.Recommend

  • Youth
    Mar 16, 2011 - 5:08PM

    I am with you on this George. Better say the truth from a foreign land than accept the status quo sitting in here!Recommend

  • Tariq Mahmood
    Mar 16, 2011 - 5:08PM


    This ‘change’ in educational concept is very old. Question is the British help to our cause. The British have been trying to ‘help’ us since years, failing misreably. Excerpts from ‘God and Logic in Islam. The caliphate of reason by John Walbridge.’

    Hungarian dude (Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner) who was the first principal of GC Lahore. He defended the existing schooling system against proposed English changes back in 1882. According to his research there were seven educational systems functioning in Punjab before the British. Education was started in some classical text like Saadi’s Gulistan in Persian. The objective was to produce cultivated moral individuals who would become responsible members of their own communities. The new education system had produced a breach between generations. Whereas a boy coming home from school would have once discussed his Saadi with father, who had fond memories of his own study of the same classic, now the strange (very ordinary) English books set the boy apart from his
    father, uncles and friends. What was worse, everyone knew that the English education was undertaken with the ultimate goal of getting a government desk job, the former student could never return with dignity to his father’s store or workshop, as his father or grandfather would have done. These unemployed young men were quickly becoming a nuisance to all concerned. Finally, the arrival of the new system had effectively destroyed support for the old systems. In the past, a landlord might have hired a teacher for his son and allowed his tenants sons to attend classes, a local cleric would have taught Quran in his mosque, a wealthy merchant or aristocrat would have endowed a school to announce his status, but now the education was seen as the responsibility of the government, and anyway few families wanted the old education anymore. Now the landlords and the prosperous merchants sent their sons to Leitner’s college in Lahore, and the village mulla found that no one was interested in his Quran classes. Popular support for traditional eduction dried up, and the government was unable to fill the gap. In 1882, seven old and respected educational systems had been replaced by one failing system.

    We need to discover our own education for ourselves based for own society and culture. That is, if we ever find out what our culture is all about first……Recommend

  • bvindh
    Mar 16, 2011 - 5:21PM

    The recitation of the Holy Koran is sufficient for all the worldly and spiritual needs of a human being. “Modern” science and technology are insignificant background noise. I tell you ,even Faster Than Light drives can be simply built by following the clear, authoritative and final scientific principles of the Holy Koran. All that’s needed is a high powered committee of mullahs.Recommend

  • M Zeeshan Siddique
    Mar 16, 2011 - 7:07PM

    Yes !! George I have seen that show from “Historian Niall Ferguson” and it hit me as hard as smack down on flat rock-bed, we need to make drastic reforms in our current education policy and not double but three fold or quad fold current budget for education- but unfortunately it a sad tale to tell when you hear about Education Budget is being shrinking every year and is now in a state where the term “Budget” will be considered as a lavish remark for so called Educational funds.Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 7:49PM

    how is this dude still lecturing us? we dont need any lecturing. it was the muslims that gave the euruopeans their renaissance. the decline in knowledge is not linked to the stupid reasons this unacademic brit is telling us. there are far more nuanced reasons, and there is reason to believe that the growth of scientific knowledge in the muslims world is certainly not far off. pakistan is no different. we have to believe in ourselves, and not let other people call us ‘stupid, skinny kids’ with sticks. yes, the educational system is broken, but it can be fixed but we dont need the help of NGO’s and the british government. and the defence budget as a percentage of whole budget had been lower than that of the education and development budget during the last government (an army man!) and only when the PPP came into power (liberal socialist) did the development budget begin to fall due to poor economic management. george fulton, get lost. Recommend

  • Meerza
    Mar 16, 2011 - 8:37PM

    When it comes to education, why dont we expect from our leaders to put the tax-payers’ money into the education system, instead of using it all on their luxuries? (I am hoping we Pakistanis are aware of the lavish lifestyles they have). Dont we have any idea as to how everything in this country, including education, can improve tremendously, only if the corruption ends?

    How does everything boil down to the defense budget, which is meant to ensure our national security? Why do we think all our problems, including those related to education, can only be resolved with cuts in defense budget? How about simply introducing performance-based systems for faculties in our schools, colleges and universities? Will that require cuts in defense budget? How about passing a law which requires all the government officials to have their children educated in Pakistani institutes? Then improving the education system would create a win-win situation for everyone. Would that require cut in defense budget?

    Mr. George, this country is fighting war for its survival. You should keep your defense/military related suggestions to yourself. Cut in the defense budget is that last thing we need. Recommend

  • John
    Mar 16, 2011 - 9:35PM

    @Tariq Mahmood:
    Just look east of your border. Both were in the same boat. Not perfect yet, but you can see a farmer in Punjab India or in down south with agricultural degree. More women in college than men. Schools are in slums and curricula are not biased.

    Education is for knowledge and employment based on education is incidental.

    No one expects every one in PAK to have college degree or school diploma. But the access to knowledge should not be prevented by negligence or miseducation.

    No one spoiled the PAK education system. PAK had 60 years to find her suitable system. Recommend

  • Kan
    Mar 16, 2011 - 9:38PM

    Education will only breed more potent terrorists like Afia and Shahzads….. It is the very UNSECULAR nature of Islam that makes it easy for the subjects to tilt towards terrorism with such ease…I dont think the muslim society can ever be truly SECULAR unless the CORE teachings are debated….
    So if You want to tackle terror..tackle unsecular nature of Islam… (and please dont tell me that Koranic teachings are secular…. The kalma “La iIlla Illlala… Muhammad rasul..” itself is not a secular statement that is being asked to recite 5 times a day and which also hapens to be one of the 5 tenets of being a muslim)…..Recommend

  • Mahmood
    Mar 16, 2011 - 9:54PM

    Instead of pointing out a single guy here and repeatedly highlighting his errors,why don’t we unite and form our own government policies?I suppose that these articles are written for some sort of awakening among our people so it would be better to think for some solutions.
    Come up with new ideas,make forums because now time has arrived when the citizens have to take control of all this mess!Recommend

  • saa
    Mar 16, 2011 - 10:47PM

    UN millennia goals are big sham and they should not be applied for Islamic country like Pakistan. Its a Zionist agenda and we should instead open more madrasa for kuranic teachings as well normal educationRecommend

  • joy
    Mar 16, 2011 - 10:53PM

    respected Mr George

    my earlier comment was made in jest

    It seems that my pakistani neighbours listen to u a lot

    pls tell the ordinary pakistani to stand up and reclaim his/her country

    as an indian.i want a strong, stable and a prosperous neighbour….since I want to progress

    with at least a gdp growth of minimum 10 ( ten) percent for the next ten years coz i want

    the next generation to inherit an educated, healthy and a might India


  • John
    Mar 16, 2011 - 11:22PM

    Please educate the public where “PAK is fighting the war for it’s survival”. I see only domestic law and order issues, and no war. Recommend

    Mar 17, 2011 - 1:41AM

    Really a good article..its really dam serious to think about educational reforms if want to survive and prosper in a global village(world)..atom bombs,missiles not give you the strength and power to compete with countries,its your expertise,knowledge and man power what wars aare not fought with arms its mind wars and we are experiencing that how developed nations ruling on most of least developed countries through their technology and ideas.

    Its not only responsibility of governments to provide education., i think every literate specially the universities student must come in the field and provide the defense (education).

    our religion ISLAM has also insists us to seek knowledge and to think and find the secrets of the nature.Recommend

  • Alia Amir
    Mar 17, 2011 - 3:54AM

    Hey George, so it was not goodbye, it was “George ka khuda hafiz”!!! Welcome back!Recommend

  • Mawali
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:17AM

    March for Education’ media campaign is not alone in the misguided effort of promoting its campaign to the well fed, over educated (I jest), functional illiterates.
    Who does not acknowledge the virtues of education? Least, the teary eyed 10 year old who sees other bright eyed, bushy tailed attending school while he/she has to help the parent make a living. No siree George they want to get educated just like the kids of the rich and the misguided upper middle class wannabe elites. An emerging problem for Pakistan.
    In Pakistan’s case education in and of itself will only produce more educated terrorists who will use the latest technology to blow themselves up and others to shall we say kingdom come. What you need on an urgent basis is an economic uplift program that harnesses the raw, unskilled labor force by investing in basics such as agriculture, cottage and textile industries perhaps even the now dilapidated infrastructure.
    It has to be a concurrent concerted effort. Education in isolation will only produce more disgruntled over qualified underemployed youth in the next two decades. A perfect candidate for Alqaeda, Inc. Economic uplift supported by an education policy will produce qualified workforce ready to help with emerging technology. A workforce that may then be willing to shrug off its sleeve the shackles of religious bigotry and over zealousness for a future with hope. Recommend

  • Mawali
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:38AM

    @Truthseeker: Can you seek the truth a bit more succinctly. Peace be upon the brief! I am not speaking of the kind you wear although it won’t hurt!Recommend

  • Sardar Khan
    Mar 17, 2011 - 4:49AM

    @saad: Grow up baby! Recommend

  • Cherish Raj
    Mar 17, 2011 - 12:19PM

    @Tariq Mohammed

    Please take a look around yourself. All the great advancements we have made is due to the Western Renaissance. It is true that old civilizations like the Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Arab had played their part in contributing towards the knowledge base of mankind. But why is the Western system so enduring? Because of independent thinking. Free thought and experimentation is the key. The continuous and relentless pursuit of the linkage between natural phenomena and its theoretical explanation.Religion has boundary walls built around it and there are ‘theories’ that cannot be questioned which inherently weakens its explanatory power. For example, the theory of evolution cannot be taught in Muslim countries. If it cannot be taught then how can an individual living in a Muslim country challenge it even if he wants to. On the other hand, creationism can be researched in a secular country and be subjected to debate. Calculus, relativity, evolution, demand and supply, genes, kinetic theory of gases- almost all the tools developed by man to explain the world him was developed in the West. It is no longer the Western system, it is in the Western part of planet where man rediscovered himself. Recommend

  • Mohsin Mahmood
    Mar 17, 2011 - 2:53PM

    A really good article but how to convert this theoratical spearhead into a real game changer for Pakistan. Please guide us George talk and write further about this issue.Recommend

  • John
    Mar 18, 2011 - 6:03AM

    @Mahmood: @Mohsin Mahmood:
    For those who are wondering how to move from forum to reality:

    Twice a week in your poor neighborhood, go in the evening, teach them for 2 hours, for Rs.1 a student / month. Appoint an old elder, to keep them account of that money. The money will be a used for chalk and giving prize.

    Ask the local petty shop owner to pay for a child who can not afford it. Now the shop owner becomes the sponsor for that child. Before you know, you will have too many children, and you need additional persons, your sister, brother , your retired father etc.,

    In case you do not know which neighborhood to start, ask your maid, servant, help etc. They will take you to their neighborhood.

    Those interested, form a face book page, organize a committee, segregate neighborhood, assign a group. I guess you all get the point.

    These are not theoretical words. These suggestions come from experience.

    Remember these words? “Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country”

    Now George F. is asking you the same here in his article and you responded to it.

    Yes, there are schools, yes there Govt teachers, yes you have regular jobs. But can’t you spare 2 hrs / week for an year and see? Recommend

  • A Thinker
    Mar 18, 2011 - 6:40PM

    werd!! Pakistan is a lifelong affair George!!

    Good to see excellent points from you, even though I was irked by your farewell post.Recommend

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