We sleep while our girls’ schools are blown up

It is about time we began fixing things that are broken, we need to do this by adopting a bipartisan approach.

Marvi Memon November 23, 2010

Whilst traveling from Islamabad to Karachi for an event commemorating literacy graduates in Thatta, I came across a news item on a school being blown up in Landi Kotal. Addressing students, I mentioned the blowing up of a school in Fata. This was not the first time such an incident took place — in fact this November alone, nine schools have been blown up!

I will mention each one of them individually so that they are not a mere statistic. On November 22, a girls’ school in Landi Kotal was hit. On November 15 and November 11, militants blew up two government schools in Mohmand Agency. A day before, two primary schools for girls in the same agency were blown up. On November 6, a high school at Sulemankhel Budh bher was blown up. And on November 5, a government girls’ school was blown up in the settled district of Bannu. Two days earlier, two more girls’ schools were blown up – again in Mohmand.

The question arises as to what the rest of Pakistan is doing about the matter. There have been no significant protests which have managed to protect these schools. In fact, ironically, 800 employees of the education department in Fata have been suspended and terminated by political agents under the Frontier Crimes Regulations for not protecting government schools against militants. Over 100 female staff members are among the punished employees.

Research on this subject motivated me to make a call to my alma mater, St Joseph's Convent High School. I wanted to drop by to discuss the possibilities of brainstorming for solutions on how to protect girls’ schools. I happened to be at my old school on a very important day. It was the first death anniversary of Ms Shafiqa Fikree, an institution unto herself. As I sat and listened to all that was wholesome about her, and thus our upbringing at such a prestigious institution, I kept thinking of the girls in Mohmand. Later over tea, in a discussion with my teachers, I realised it was education which taught women like myself a sense of fighting for justice. And people like myself who are able to attend such schools were the lucky ones since not all children are fortunate enough to receive this kind of education.

All schools across Pakistan must be invited to participate in brainstorming a solution so that there is ownership of the problem from a wide spectrum of schools. As one of my favourite teachers from school pointed out, a start could be a silent protest in all schools; a few minutes of silence on a chosen day everywhere in Pakistan marking our condemnation of the targeting of girls’ schools.

It was about time we began fixing things that are broken. And we need to do this by adopting a bipartisan approach, by jointly raising our voices against injustices and by trying to solve these problems by joint action. Of course, hurdles will be put in our way and there will be vilification campaigns by those who do not want us to succeed. But leadership and sincerity to our Pakistaniat demand that we ignore these and march on.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2010.


Anoop | 11 years ago | Reply @Talat, I am not saying corruption is rooted out. But, I am saying now the right economic policies are being followed. Corruption is more of a structural issue than economic. India has to restructure its bureaucracy and how its various arms function. If you have a PM who is one of the highly rated economic it certainly helps. This decade India has grown double the speed of Pakistan. Obama himself has said during the G20 forum when Dr.Singh talks about World Economy other leaders listen. Show me one leader in Pakistan who is half as educated and half as honest as PM Singh. "I can't believe muslims voted for BJP. May be the BJP has done some good work there or that they are treated more badly by congress." --> Ofcourse they have. Gujrat of Narendra Modi is THE most developed state in India. And, before he first arrived my state, Karnataka.again a BJP ruled state, was ahead of Gujrat. Now, look at it. It is also the fastest growing state in India. Economics dont recognize Religion, bro. If Gujrat flourishes the Muslims of Gujrat too flourish. Same with Bihar, which is again the 2nd fastest growing in India. It grew at a mind-boggling 16% 2 years ago. 16%! My Goodness. Everybody expected BJP-JDU to win and win they did. Even the Muslims recognized that their best bet is the present government. http://www.indiaelections.co.in/ They have wont 4 times the seats as their nearest rivals.
Talat | 11 years ago | Reply "Democracy works on symbolism. But, that doesn’t mean her choice is not the right one. He was finance minister in 1991 and he is given the credit for reforms which started then. He has more degrees on his Resume than most leaders in India’s neighbours put together. He is an ideal choice." Well, one does not have to be a phd to be a good politician. Politicians need to have common sense, academic qualifications are a secondary thing. Since you have mentioned economic reforms, please read the following article to share your views. http://www.dawn.com/2010/11/22/india-s-cozy-ties-between-corruption-and-corporate-fascism.html "You say Sikh population was embarrassed. Look at the 2009 parliamentary elections in Punjab, which is a majority Sikh state in India. Congress, if your theory is correct Congress should not have won a single seat or atleast should have not won many. http://www.travelindia-guide.com/elections-indian-lok-sabha/election-results/punjab/ It won 8 out of 13 seats there. You are wrong in this count, brother. It's good know that sikhs don't let past occurrences influence their decision on voting. It can not be denied that secularism has helped India avoid many problems. However, it is also true that a significant proportion of Hindu population are intolerant toward Muslims and other minorities. Well, for one India, a country of 80% Hindus, re-elected a Sikh Prime Minister based on performance alone. That indicates Religion does not play a major part in politics anymore. Read about the Bihar election results announced yesterday. BJP-JDU combine got most of the Muslim votes. Who would think Muslims will vote for BJP! There is a huge misconception in Pakistan about most things Indian." I can't believe muslims voted for BJP. May be the BJP has done some good work there or that they are treated more badly by congress. Besides, tell me one country where there aren’t right-wing forces? Europe which is considered an example of Secularism, elected majority right-wing parties recently. Probably, the Right-wingers will come to power in US next time. In UK the BNP(I hope I have the correct initials) got a significant number of seats. Conservative parties get their chances. The law and the Constitutions in all the above countries make sure equal,yet limited space is giving to all, even the Right-Wingers. It is what makes all these countries so successful in Democracy.
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