A few weeks ago, a lot of ink was spilled in various newspapers against the directive of the Higher Education Commission, which ‘reminded’ universities to prevent anything against the ‘ideology’ of Pakistan from taking place on their campuses. While the efforts of my colleagues in decrying this rather absurd directive is to be lauded, the truth is that the ‘ideology’ of Pakistan — whatever that really is — is in fact being stringently preserved in the universities, and clearly etched in the minds of our students. The ideologues need not fear.
A few days ago, I was passing by Mall Road in Lahore and glanced across the Punjab University Old Campus to see the statue of Dr Alfred Woolner, an eminent Sanskrit scholar and former vice-chancellor of the University of the Punjab (Dr Woolner’s statue is the only remaining public statue in Lahore and survived the ravages of the 1950s and 1970s when Lahore lost most of its public history). What I saw shocked me in the least. While the statue itself had weathered the times, some well-meaning person had added a line to his name and years of worldly life. The addition reads: Israel’s Mother’s Friend (the real meaning is lost in translation, but I hope most of you can figure it out). Of course, the reason for adding this extra line — and it has been there for months to the great oblivion of the scholars of the University of the Punjab — was to ensure that people get to know the real loyalty of Dr Woolner, who while working and dying in Lahore, trying to educate the people of Punjab, and strengthening the only university Pakistan later inherited, was actually working for Israel — a country which did not exist at the time of his death, and was against Pakistan — which also did not exist and nor was even the Muslim League committed to its establishment till four years after the death of Dr Woolner.
But then these are minor details. Just as setting up an Israel stall at the Model United Nations (UN) programme (Israel is a full member of the UN) is a great threat to the ideology of Pakistan, Dr Woolner’s educational work in Lahore was also an Israeli scheme. I was about to note that Dr Woolner’s scholarship on Sanskrit might have exhibited that he was an Israeli agent, but then Dr Leitner’s scholarship on Islamic law and promotion of the study of Arabic and Persian is also not acceptable in Pakistan since he was a Hungarian Jew. Government College’s proposal to rename Kutchery Road in Dr Leitner’s honour was shot down on this premise. People like these are always foreign agents, no matter what their contribution to life and scholarship in this region.
Therefore, I am very happy to note that the ‘ideology of Pakistan’ is very safe on our campuses and nearly every day, concerted efforts are made to preserve and promote it. For example, poor revisionists try and teach our students lies about Pakistan’s history, but little do they know that even after a full semester of trying to teach such objectionable material, our students — who even perspire ideology — will equate all Indians with Hindus, will have a visceral hatred of Hindus and disdain towards their religion (one vice-chancellor has even publicly ridiculed the religion and its people), and despise everything related to Israel — without knowing anything about the country. With such good students, the scandalous attacks on their good ideological education by people who write on these pages — and other such miscreants — will have no effect. These revisionists might try, but in the end, will only win one or two per cent converts to their reprehensible ideas. The Higher Education Commission should rest assured.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2014.