Tag Archives: schools

Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

KARACHI: The Sindh education department on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese education department of Sichuan province of China for their cooperation in teaching the Chinese language in schools of Sindh.

The ceremony was held in the committee room of the Sindh Assembly and the MoU was signed by Sindh Education Secretary Dr Fazalullah Pechucho and Liu Dong, vice director general of the education department of China. Sindh Senior Minister for Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Consul General of China Ma Yaou and other officials also attended the ceremony.

According to the MoU, the teaching of Chinese would be made compulsory from class six onwards in all schools of Sindh within three years. Students learning the language will get extra marks, scholarships and foreign visit opportunities for education and skills training in China for those students who would pass Chinese as a subject till matriculation and higher classes.

Take a look: Sindh to teach Chinese language in schools from 2013

Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said that making the teaching of Chinese compulsory was aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture in Pakistan as “we have over the years maintained long-lasting culture and economic relations in China”.

Continue reading Accord signed to teach Chinese in Sindh schools

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Peel schools lower flags in support of people killed at Pakistan school

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TORONTO – Flags will fly at half-mast outside of Peel District School board schools in support of those killed at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. The flags outside of the schools will fly at half-mast until the end of day Friday, Dec. 19.

“We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events that transpired at Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, today. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and we acknowledge the bravery of everyone who reacted immediately to protect the children and staff,” a press release from the school board read. A spokesperson for the Pakistani military said Tuesday that 132 children were among the 141 people killed when the school was attacked by Taliban fighters.

Read more » Global News
Learn more » http://globalnews.ca/news/1729686/peel-schools-lower-flags-in-support-of-people-killed-at-pakistan-school/

USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

Olson, Qaim launch basic education programme

Karachi: US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G Olson, joined by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, broke ground in the Korro village of Khairpur on Monday on the first of 120 schools to be built by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its $155 million Sindh Basic Education Programme.

US Consul General Michael Dodman, US Agency for International Development Mission Director Greg Gottlieb, Sindh Senior Minister of Education Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Education Secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho and other officials from Sindh’s education department, as well as teachers, students and members of the community, also attended the ceremony.

“We are committed to supporting education in Pakistan, which is the key to a brighter future for Pakistan’s children,” said Ambassador Olson.

Working together, the US and the Sindh government will improve the quality of and access to education for the children of Sindh.”

In the coming five years, USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools affected by the catastrophic 2010 floods and will support the Sindh government’s policy of consolidating, merging and upgrading schools throughout the province.

According to a statement released by the US consulate general, the programme will develop greater partnerships with local communities to improve school management and increase enrollment for girls, with a goal of improving the reading skills of 750,000 children in target areas of Sindh.

Continue reading USAID’s Sindh Basic Education Programme will provide support for the construction of 120 schools in Sindh

Corruption limits educational opportunities for Sindhi Children

Reopening ghost schools a lucrative business in Thar

By Prem Shivani

MITHI: The number of schools in the most-underdeveloped district in Sindh is roughly twice the number of total villages.

According to education department records, there are 4,153 operational schools in 2,484 villages of Tharparkar district.

The schools are ‘operating’ on paper only and are not even remotely related to providing education to children living in these villages. Such schools are used only to embezzle government funds received for their management, Dawn reliably learnt. A couple of years ago, more than 50 per cent ghost schools in the district were got reopened by local influential persons in connivance with officials of the education department.

The schools regularly receive funds, ration for students, stipends and scholarships which the bogus schools management committees — comprising the supposed supervisor, teacher and at times the education district officer and additional district officer — distribute among themselves, according to sources in the education department.

According to regulations of the education department, a primary school has to be opened after every two kilometres. However, since the education officers have a stake in schools funds they have been more than generous in opening as many as 60 bogus schools in a single village, said the sources.

These officials have evaded notice by maintaining fake records for students’ enrolment and semis code.

A school with a semis code receives Rs22,500 per year as school management committee fund, a stipend of Rs250 for every girl student enrolled and the person who opens the school in his locality or village gets the job of a lower staff or a naib qasid. Moreover, funds and wheat, oil and ghee are also given by the World Food Programme and Tawana Pakistan Project for these schools.

According to education department records, there are 61 primary schools for boys and girls and one high school in Vaouridora village in Chhachhro taluka which has a total population of 6,580 people.

Around 3,950 boys and girls — 60 per cent of the population — have been shown enrolled in these schools, also having 182 students who have even studied up to matric. Out of these 62 schools 42 do not even have a building but have been allotted a semi code by education officials.

Meanwhile, 27, 22 and 17 schools have been supposedly functioning in Chhachhro, Diplo and Islamkot towns respectively.

A greater number of schools are operating in several villages of Tharparkar district having a population of less than 5,000 people.

Moreover, 24 schools have been opened in Chelhar, 23 in Karuro, 23 in Charnore, 22 in Thardos, 21 in Kitar, 19 in Kitari, 19 in Sakrio, 17 in Kantio,16 in Udani, 15 in Janjhi,14 in Danbhario,14 in Ranpario, 13 in Jetrar, 12 in Khimejopar, 11 in Pabuhar, 11 in Bhorilo, 10 in Dhaklo, 10 in Jese jo Par,10 in Kaloi, and 9 in Aranro village, state official bogus records.

A senior teacher who worked with the Tawana Pakistan Project confirmed that many schools in Thar maintained bogus records of students’ enrolment.“Wheat and oil obtained for these schools is openly sold in the market of these villages and towns,” he said.

An education official who wished not to be named shed some light on ‘the rationale behind opening several schools in a single village’.

He said that influential persons of various communities used their clout to get as many schools opened as possible because for each school opened in a village, bogus teachers gave a cut of their loot to the school superviser and the influential person who had got the school opened. If a teacher paid Rs1,000 a month to the supervisor then more schools meant more teachers and more money, he explained.

Tharparkar district education officer Abdul Majid Hur said that the matter was being probed thoroughly. He said that he would not hesitate to take a stern decision for putting the educational system in Thar on a sound footing and ensuring that quality education was imparted in schools.

For about two years now, people working in such bogus schools in connivance with the education department have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of stakeholders who are funding these schools.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://www.dawn.com/news/1023302/reopening-ghost-schools-a-lucrative-business-in-thar

‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

ISLAMABAD, June 20: At the moment, over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and the literacy rate is less than 60 percent. It requires us to declare an educational emergency in the country.

This was said by the state minister for education, Engineer Baligh-ur-Rehman, during the launching ceremony of a report, Pakistan District Education Rankings, by Alif Ailaan and Sustainable Development Policy Institute at a local hotel on Thursday.

He said the literacy rate could not be improved without political will. During the past five years, 45,000 teachers had been appointed in Punjab and most were placed near their villages to assure maximum attendance.“We have decided to establish the National Curriculum Council to introduce a syllabus with a minimum standard for all provinces,” he said, adding that schools would be increased from 10,000 to 40,000 in the first year of the current government’s tenure.

The ranking report showed the huge variation in education standards across Pakistan. One of the goals of the report was to serve as a benchmark against which the performance of politicians and administrators could be assessed.

Continue reading ‘Education emergency should be declared in Pakistan’

Language in Sindh schools

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE language dilemma in education remains unresolved in Pakistan because educationists fail to understand how basic language is to the child’s learning process, as also to the psyche of the speakers.

Those who ignore this fundamental truth can undermine national integrity. If they are running schools they cannot maximise the learning advantage of their students. Language has a political dimension as well. When our leaders fail to understand that imposing a language on a people amounts to linguistic imperialism, the consequences can be grave. We know what happened in 1971.

In this context, Sindh should be the last province to pose a problem. It has speakers of mainly two languages — Sindhi and Urdu. Geographically they are broadly divided between the rural and urban areas. Public-sector education follows this demographic feature in the medium of instruction policy. Unsurprisingly, from ASER 2012 (the annual report on the status of education) to be released in January it emerges that 90 per cent of the parents in Sindh want their children to be taught in Sindhi (presuming that is the language of their choice when they said no to Urdu and English and opted for “other” in a survey conducted there).

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The changing sociology of rural Sindh

By Arif Hasan

The media, print and electronic, are full of very important news and its analysis. Pakistan-US relations, the judiciary-executive conflict, the Karachi killings, sectarian strife, the Balochistan “insurgency”, and similar issues are regularly written about and/or discussed by well-informed experts. …….. …….

…….  From the early 70s to the late 90s, I have worked in rural Sindh and documented and published on the processes of change taking place in different areas of the province. After a lapse of 10 years, I visited a large number of rural areas with which I was previously acquainted. These visits were made between 2010 and 2012 and involved meetings with village communities, transporters, arhatis, real estate agents and local NGO staff and Community Based Organisation activists.

The change that I have observed and which has been articulated by the groups I interacted with, is enormous and that too in 10 years. The most visible and important change is the presence of women in development and political discourse. They are employed in NGO offices, they manage development programmes, they are social activists and the majority of them are from the rural areas. In some of the remote villages I visited, there were private schools and beauty parlours run by young village women. Blocking of roads to protest against the “high handedness” of the local landlords, bureaucratic inaction, and/or law and order situations, has become common. Women participate in these demonstrations and in some cases these blockages have been carried out exclusively by them.

Discussions with groups on the issue of free-will marriages were also held. The vast majority of individuals were in favour of such marriages even if they violated caste divisions. However, they felt that it is the parents that have to change so as to make such marriages conflict free. The non-availability of middle schools for girls was also discussed. Surprisingly, the village communities had no problem with the girls studying with the boys in the male middle schools. In addition, discussions with the Sindh Rural Support Organisation’s (SRSO) women groups, which consist of the poorest women in a village, revealed that about 20 per cent of them had mobile phones and almost all of them watched television although around 30 per cent households actually own a TV.

Continue reading The changing sociology of rural Sindh

Sindh succeeds in wooing US aid for schools, flood victims

SINDH – KARACHI – The hard work of the Sindh government to rehabilitate flood-affected schools has reaped benefits. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has agreed to provide an additional funding of $4 million to the province for further enhancement of flood damaged schools.

USAID was providing the Sindh government with a total of $155 million to support the education sector in Sindh under the Sindh Basic Education Programme.

Under the said programme, the flood-affected schools would be reconstructed in various districts including Khairpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Kambar-Shahdadkot, Sukkur, Larkana, Kashmore-Kandhkot, and Karachi.

The Sindh Education Programme will also support in enhancing reading literacy in schools, alleviating malnourishment in children and provide technical assistance to departments in order to increase their capacity. The total funding for this venture is $155 million, sources told Pakistan Today.

The goal of the Sindh Basic Education programme is to increase and sustain student enrolment in primary, middle and secondary schools in targeted geographical location in Sindh…..

Read more » Pakistan Today

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2012/07/07/city/karachi/sindh-succeeds-in-wooing-us-aid-for-schools-flood-victims/

Imran Khan says beheadings in Swat are Pakistani propaganda

Courtesy: Dr. Danish with Imran Khan + Pakistani Tv channels + YouTube

Via – Twitter

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Read more » Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers

More on beheadings of Pakistani soldiers » BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2012/06/120627_taleban_dir_video.shtml

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Pakistani Taliban release video of beheaded Pakistani soldiers. Warning: The content of this video is extremely graphic. The video shows the aftermath of the beheadings of 17 Pakistani soldiers.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2012/06/pakistani_taliban_re_3.php#ixzz1zDYyQEZH

Absenteeism in Sindh schools worries World Bank and European Union

Absenteeism at schools worries WB, EU officials

By Azizullah Sharif

SINDH – KARACHI, Oct 28: Officials of the World Bank and the European Union on Friday voiced their concern over the existence of `ghost` and closed schools in different districts of Sindh and absenteeism of teachers from schools.

This and other issues figured at a meeting held between Sindh Minister for Education Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq and a joint delegation of the World Bank and European Union comprising Vishant Raju, Peter Poiter and Ms Louis.

Sindh Education Secretary Siddik Memon and Resource Support Unit`s programme managers Pervaiz Ahmed and Raeesa Ali were also present.

The issues concerning the closure of schools and long absence of teachers from schools were raised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and EU officials when the minister informed them that more funds were required to repair and renovate a large number of schools, which had been damaged in the recent floods.

The minister said that the Sindh government by appointing teachers in two phases had already made a number of schools functional. He added that many other schools lying closed would be reopened with the hiring of more teachers in a third phase ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Pak society is “effectively cannibalizing itself” due to dehumanization of Ahmadis

Ahmadis: The lightning rod that attracts the most hatred

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.– Illutration by Faraz Aamer Khan

By Zofeen T. Ebrahim, DAWN.COM

A month after ten Ahmadi students were expelled from two schools in the village of Dharinwala, in Faisalabad district, all have been put back to school, not in there old ones, but in two schools in Hafizabad, thanks to Khalil Ahmad, father and grandfather of four students who were among those expelled.

“I managed to get all of them enrolled in two schools in the nearby city of Hafizabad,” he said talking to Dawn.com over phone from his village.

But it’s not been easy. Most parents of the expelled children are too poor, so Ahmed volunteered to pay for their admissions, their books and stationery. And that is not all. He, with the help of his two sons, makes sure they drop and pick all of them on a motorbike, doing turns.

In one school, the principal knows he has given admission to Ahmadi students but the educator believes faith should not come in the way of those seeking education. “In the other the principal has not been told,” Ahmed revealed.

Sadly, all during this episode, the government has remained a quiet bystander, as always.

It is not the first time that students have been expelled from an educational institution in Punjab because of their religious affiliations, remarked Bushra Gohar, a parliamentarian belonging to the secular Awami National Party.  According to Gohar, her party members had condemned the expulsion of students belonging to the Ahmadiyya community each time on the floor of the house. “However, a protest or condemnation from the parties leading in the Punjab has not been forthcoming,” she said.

For far too long, Pakistani students belonging to this minority community have been facing various forms of discrimination based on their faith.

“This tidal wave against the Ahmadiyya education shows no sign of ebbing,” Saleemuddin, the spokesperson of the Ahmaddiya Jammat, told Dawn.com.

He said after 1984, when the government promulgated the anti Ahmadiyya ordinance, both the government and the clerics have been trying their utmost to punish them in various ways.

“Ahmadi lecturers were posted away to distant locations and some were not allowed to teach. Ahmadi principals and headmasters were replaced. Ahmadi students were deprived admission in professional colleges. They were refused accommodation in attached hostels. They suffered attacks by extremist elements on campuses.”

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Islami Jamiat Talaba, the student wing of the Islami Jamiat has been tasked to cleanse the educational institutions, including universities and professional colleges of Ahmadi students.

Hasan Ahmed, who was among the 23 students who were expelled from Punjab Medical College, in Faisalabad, back in 2008, can never forget the stressful event and how “night after night, for over a month” he kept stressing over the events that turned his settled student life all topsy-turvy.

“I knew it happened to others, so was not completely caught unawares,” Hasan acknowledged. He is at present completing his house job in Lahore, keeping an “ultra busy schedule”.

Eventually all were re-instated in some college or another. “After months of waiting, just before exam, my friend was sent to Bahawalpur while I went off to a distant place of Rahimyar Khan in a college of lower merit,” narrated Hasan.

After a gargantuan effort, he was finally allowed to appear in exams from Lahore and then got admitted to Allama Iqbal Medical College, in Lahore.

“To be in a state of flux was the worst part of this episode specially since exams were approaching and I didn’t know which place I was to appear from,” said Hasan.

He expressed that till the identity of an Ahmadi remains undisclosed “he remains safe”.

But that is sadly not the case if you are living in Pakistan. People are culturally nosy and want to know your cast and sect. “Eventually they end up finding that you are an Ahmadi. Once they know, you can feel a change of attitude and it just takes a mischief maker to exploit others’ feelings against you,” said Hasan.

Till Hina Akram’s faith remained unknown to her teacher in Faislabad’s National Textile University, she was considered a star student. But after it became known she belonged to the Ahmadiyya community, she faced so much faith-based harassment that she had to quit studies.

“I was told to convert to Islam,” said Hina, who was studying in the sixth semester of her BSc.

“I was handed some anti-Ahmadiyya literature to read, offered a refuge in Muslim home. But when she told the teacher she was an Ahmadi by choice he called her an infidel and warned her of severe consequences.

“You will face such a fire of animosity in the campus that not even the vice chancellor will be able to help you,” he threatened her.

True to his word, a hate campaign was initiated and a social boycott began. Out of college, she is desperately trying to go abroad. Her fate remains in balance.

But it’s not just the education aspect where the anti-Ahmadiyya lobby is hitting, said Saleemuddin. Since 1984, some 208 faith-based killings have taken place. The persecution against the community has surged following the May 28, 2010 massacre of 94 members of the community in Lahore.

After the four million Ahmadis were officially declared non-Muslims in 1984 by the state, they cannot call themselves Muslims or go to mosques. They cannot be overheard praising Prophet Mohammad. To add insult to injury, every Pakistani who claims to be a Muslim and owns a passport has declared that he or she considers them to be non-Muslims and their leader an imposter prophet.

Pakistani Ahmadis today live in constant fear and humiliation. So much so, the hatred has permeated into each and every slice of society and the oppressors have become more vocal and aggressive.

“The extremist elements are getting more and more powerful because of Saudi-US influence and the government’s policy of appeasement,” said I.A. Rehman, General Secretary Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

“The Ahmadis are already the worst persecuted minority in our country – and things for them appear to be growing worse as hatred and intolerance spread,” Kamila Hyat, a journalist and a rights activist echoed the same sentiments. “The lack of enforcement of laws to prevent the preaching of hatred adds to the problem,” she added.

Saleemuddin said by allowing the extremist clerics to hold anti-Ahmadiyya rallies and conferences, the government is adding fuel to this venom. “People are openly instigated to kill us in the name of Islam,” he said.

“Violence and the advance of bigotry, prejudice and hate against minorities have never really been met with the resolve needed to remove impunity from the social equation in Pakistan,” Sherry Rehman, a legislator belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, agreed.
Instead, she told Dawn.com what is seen is an “expansion in the space for religious and sectarian apartheids, which has led now to heinous acts of brutality and exclusion of many, particularly Ahmadis.”

She warned: “This is a dangerous trend that conflates national identity with religion.”

Perhaps that is one reason why Pervez Hoodbhoy expresses: “Today, when religion has become so central in matters of the state, they [Ahmadis] do not stand a chance in Pakistan of getting rights, respect, and dignity. The overdose of religion given to young Pakistanis in their schools and homes means that nothing matters more than which religion and sect you belong to. Ahmadis are the lightning rod that attracts more hatred than any other sect.”

For its part rights groups like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) say they have “repeatedly” raised the issue of “state tolerated persecution”.

“We are urging authorities to intervene in each case,” said Rehman. “But the situation is getting worse day by day.

Terming it “abhorrent and self defeating” when society allows “for the dehumanization of Ahmadis or Christians or the Shia for that matter, it is effectively cannibalizing itself,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director of HRW.

“The federal government expresses regret at incidents but has made clear its unwillingness to repeal or amend discriminatory laws,” said HRW spokesperson.

Given the current intolerance, the fate of the new generation of Pakistani Ahmadis looks “quite bleak” said Rehman.

Even Hoodbhoy said: “For years, Ahmadis, Hindus, and Christians have been desperately seeking to flee Pakistan. They would be foolish to want to stay,” said Hoodbhoy.

This fails to dampen young Hasan’s spirits. He thinks the future looks “brighter than ever before”.

“Even if the situation is made worse in Pakistan, this does not mean the future is not bright. It’s a matter of time before we start getting equal rights in this country.

Often when they get together, the young Ahmadis discuss the “bitter realities” they have to face as Pakistanis.

“But we don’t want to leave our country at the juncture that it is at,” said a patriotic Hasan. This is because the contribution of the Ahmadi community towards building of Pakistan has been immense,” he said with conviction.

He said recently their leader urged all Ahmadis of the world to “fast once a week and pray” especially for the prosperity of Pakistan.”

Zofeen T. Ebrahim is a freelance journalist.

Courtesy » DAWN.COM

Sindh to teach Chinese language in schools

SINDH – KARACHI: The government of Sindh on Sunday decided to launch compulsory teaching of Chinese language from grade six in 2013. The decision took place in a meeting led by the Chief Minister of Sindh Qaim Ali Shah. It was also decided that students learning Chinese will gain extra marks, scholarships and foreign visit opportunities. Shah also ordered the authorities to finalise the method, rules and instruction materials for the teaching process. It was also decided in the meeting that learning Chinese will be made compulsory in Cadet College Pitaro, grade six onwards as well. …

Read more → ARY News Tv

via → Siasat.pk

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More details → (BBC) Schools in Sindh to teach Chinese

Gangs using children as sex workers, says NGO

By Saleem Shahid

Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of physical and mental torture in schools, religious seminaries and homes: SPARC

QUETTA: Organised criminal gangs are using thousands of children as sex workers across the country, a workshop on children’s rights organised by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) was informed on Friday.

Muhammad Hanif Panezai, the chief of SPARC’s Balochistan chapter, said a survey had revealed that thousands of children were being used as sex workers at bus and truck stands and railway stations.

“Internet cafes and videogames’ shops are also being used for the purpose,” he said, adding that men belonging to several criminal networks remain present at these places to trap children and later use them as sex workers,” Mr Panezai said.

The Programme Manager of SPARC’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, Mr Imran Khan Takkar, said a survey had revealed that 80 per cent of 1.5 million street children in Pakistan were victims of sexual abuse.

He said that organised criminal networks were using children to make pornographic material and later blackmailing them to commit heinous crimes, including suicide bombings. ….

Read more: DAWN

SINDH: Schools, colleges to remain open in June

By: Syed Jafar Askari

KARACHI – The Sindh Education Department has decided that summer vacations will be observed in two months from July to August instead of June to July.

It is also decided that the female students will be awarded scholarships to enhance literacy rate among women segment of the society. These decisions were taken in a meeting of Steering Committee of Sindh Education Department, held on Saturday. Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar ul Haq presided over the meeting ….

Read more : The Nation

Britain: Royal wedding exposes deep class divisions

by Alan Woods

On Friday 29 April the people of Britain will be invited to participate in the joyful celebration of the marriage of Mr. William Windsor and Ms. Katherine Middleton. At the same time that the government is cutting billions from unnecessary extravagances such as hospitals, schools, teachers, nurses, the old and the sick, the unemployed and single parents, the Coalition has had the good sense to spend a lot of money on something as essential to the Public Good as the nuptials of Willy and Kate.

One can see many advantages in this. At a time of falling living standards for everyone who is not either a member of the royal family or a banker, it can take the minds of the British public off unpleasant thoughts of unpaid debts and unemployment. It might even make them forget the recent mass demonstration that brought half a million of them onto the streets of London to protest the vicious cuts being implemented by the ruling Conservative-Lib-Dem Coalition. …

Read more : Marxist.com

Pakistan has been playing us all for suckers

Britain is spending millions bolstering Pakistan, but it is a nation in thrall to radical Islam and is using its instability to blackmail the West

by Christina Lamb

When David Cameron announced £650m in education aid for Pakistan last week, I guess the same thought occurred to many British people as it did to me: why are we doing this?

While we are slashing our social services and making our children pay hefty university fees, why should we be giving all this money to a country that has reduced its education budget to 1.5% of GDP while spending several times as much on defence? A country where only 1.7m of a population of 180m pay tax? A country that is stepping up its production of nuclear weapons so much that its arsenal will soon outnumber Britain’s? A country so corrupt that when its embassy in Washington held an auction to raise money for flood victims, and a phone rang, one Pakistani said loudly: “That’s the president calling for his cut”? A country which has so alienated powerful friends in America that they now want to abandon it?

As someone who has spent almost as much time in Pakistan as in Britain over the past 24 years, I feel particularly conflicted, as I have long argued we should be investing more in education there.

That there is a crisis in Pakistan’s education system is beyond doubt. A report out last month by the Pakistan education taskforce, a non-partisan body, shows that at least 7m children are not in school. Indeed, one-tenth of the world’s children not in school are in Pakistan. The first time I went to Pakistan in 1987 I was astonished to see that while billions of pounds’ worth of weapons from the West were going to Pakistan’s intelligence service to distribute to the Afghan mujaheddin, there was nothing for schools.

The Saudis filled the gap by opening religious schools, some of which became breeding grounds for militants and trained the Taliban. Cameron hopes that investing in secular education will provide Pakistan’s children with an alternative to radicalism and reduce the flow of young men who want to come and bomb the West.

“I would struggle to find a country that it is more in Britain’s interests to see progress and succeed than Pakistan,” he said. “If Pakistan is a success, we will have a good friend to trade with and deal with in the future … If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration and extremism that we don’t want to see.”

As the sixth most populous country, with an arsenal of between 100 and 120 nuclear weapons, as the base of both Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban leadership, and as homeland to a large population in Britain, Pakistan is far more important to our security than Afghanistan. But after spending two weeks travelling in Pakistan last month, I feel the situation has gone far beyond anything that a long-term strategy of building schools and training teachers can hope to restrain.

The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington — its paymaster to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 10 years — is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman from California who sits on the House foreign affairs committee and has been dealing with Pakistan since working in the Reagan White House, says he now realises “they were playing us for suckers all along”.

“I used to be Pakistan’s best friend on the Hill but I now consider Pakistan to be an unfriendly country to the US,” he said. “Pakistan has literally been getting away with murder and when you tie that with the realisation that they went ahead and used their scarce resources to build nuclear weapons, it is perhaps the most frightening of all the things that have been going on over the last few years.

“We were snookered. For a long time we bought into this vision that Pakistan’s military was a moderate force and we were supporting moderates by supporting the military. In fact the military is in alliance with radical militants. Just because they shave their beards and look western they fooled a lot of people.”

Christine Fair, assistant professor at the centre for peace and security studies at Georgetown University in Washington, is equally scathing. “Pakistan’s development strategy is to rent out its strategic scariness and not pay taxes itself,” she said. “We should let them fail.”The Pakistani crisis has reached the point where Washington is being urged to tear up the strategic alliance underpinning the war in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousuf Gilani, comes from one of Punjab’s largest land-owning families. Watching Cameron sign over the £650m, he said: “I think the root cause of terrorism and extremism is illiteracy. Therefore we are giving a lot of importance to education.”

If that were the case one might expect Lahore University of Management Sciences, one of the most elite universities in the country, to be a bastion of liberalism. Yet in the physics department Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of nuclear physics, sits with his head in his hands staring out at a sea of burqas. “People used to imagine there was only a lunatic fringe in Pakistan society of these ultra-religious people,” he said. “Now we’re learning that this is not a fringe but a majority.”

What brought this home to him was the murder earlier this year of Salman Taseer, the half-British governor of Punjab who had called for the pardoning of a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. The woman, Aasia Bibi, had been convicted after a mullah had accused her of impugning Islam when she shouted at two girls who refused to drink water after she had touched it because they said it was unclean.

Taseer had been a key figure in Pakistan’s politics for decades and had suffered prison and torture, yet when he said the Aasia case showed the law needed reforming, he was vilified by the mullahs and the media. In January he was shot 27 times by one of his own guards. His murderer, Mumtaz Qadri, became a hero, showered with rose petals by lawyers when he appeared in public.

After the killing, Hoodbhoy was asked to take part in a televised debate at the Islamabad Press Club in front of students. His fellow panellists were Farid Piracha, spokesman for the country’s biggest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, and Maulana Sialvi, a supposed moderate mullah from the Barelvi sect. Both began by saying that the governor brought the killing on himself, as “he who blasphemes his prophet shall be killed”. The students clapped.

Hoodbhoy then took the microphone. “Even as the mullahs frothed and screamed I managed to say that the culture of religious extremism was resulting in a bloodbath in which the majority of victims were Muslims; that non-Muslims were fleeing Pakistan. I said I’m not an Islamic scholar but I know there are Muslim countries that don’t think the Koran says blasphemy carries the death sentence, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.

“I didn’t get a single clap. When I directly addressed Sialvi and said you have Salman Taseer’s blood on your hands, he looked at them and exclaimed: how I wish I had done it! He got thunderous applause.”

Afterwards, “I came back and wanted to dig a hole in the ground,” he said. “I can’t figure out why this country has gone so mad. I’ve seen my department change and change and change. There wasn’t one burqa-clad woman in the 1980s but today the non-hijabi, non-burqa student is an exception. As for the male students, they all come in turbans and beards with these fierce looks on their faces.”

Yet, he points out, these students are the super-elite, paying high fees to attend the university: “It’s nothing to do with causes normally associated with radicalism; it’s that the mullah is allowed complete freedom to spread the message of hate and liberals are bunkering down. Those who speak out are gone and the government has abdicated its responsibility and doesn’t even pretend to protect life and property.”

Raza Rumi, a young development worker and artist who blogs regularly, agrees. As we sat in a lively coffee bar in Lahore that could have been in the West until the lights went off in one of the frequent power cuts, he said: “Radicalism in Pakistan isn’t equated with poverty and backwardness — we’re seeing more radicalisation of the urban middle and upper class. I look at my own extended family. When I was growing up, maybe one or two people had a beard. Last time I went to a family wedding I was shell-shocked. All these uncles and aunts who were regular Pakistanis watching cricket and Indian movies now all have beards or are in hijabs.

“I think we’re in an existential crisis. The moderate political parties have taken a back seat and chickened out as they just want to protect their positions. What is Pakistan’s identity? Is it an Islamist identity as defined by Salman Taseer’s murder, ISI [the intelligence service], the jihadists? Is that really what we want to be?”

He does not know how much longer he will write about such things. “I’ve been getting repeated emails that I should leave the country or shut up,” he said.

When I left the cafe I was followed for the rest of the day by a small yellow car.

Courtesy: thesundaytimes.co.uk

Sindh saves the day

by Nadeem F. Paracha

Plans are afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh.

The main purpose of the institution would be to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle extremism in the country.

Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has beengoing through in the last many years. …

Read more : blog.Dawn

As Pakistan battles extremism, it needs allies’ patience and help

By Asif Ali Zardari, The writer is president of Pakistan.

Just days before her assassination, my wife, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, wrote presciently of the war within Islam and the potential for a clash between Islam and the West: “There is an internal tension within Muslim society. The failure to resolve that tension peacefully and rationally threatens to degenerate into a collision course of values spilling into a clash between Islam and the West. It is finding a solution to this internal debate within Islam – about democracy, about human rights, about the role of women in society, about respect for other religions and cultures, about technology and modernity – that shall shape future relations between Islam and the West.”

Two months ago my friend Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was cut down for standing up against religious intolerance and against those who would use debate about our laws to divide our people. On Tuesday, another leading member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister for minority affairs and the only Christian in our cabinet, was murdered by extremists tied to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

These assassinations painfully reinforce my wife’s words and serve as a warning that the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan affects the success of the civilized world’s confrontation with the terrorist menace.

A small but increasingly belligerent minority is intent on undoing the very principles of tolerance upon which our nation was founded in 1947; principles by which Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, lived and died; and principles that are repeated over and over in the Koran. The extremists who murdered my wife and friends are the same who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and who have blown up girls’ schools in the Swat Valley.

We will not be intimidated, nor will we retreat. Such acts will not deter the government from our calibrated and consistent efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism. It is not only the future of Pakistan that is at stake but peace in our region and possibly the world.

Read more : The Washington Post

Shame of Britain’s Muslim schools: Secret filming shows pupils being beaten

Shame of Britain’s Muslim schools: Secret filming shows pupils being beaten and ‘taught Hindus drink cow p***’

By Tazeen Ahmad

-Undercover footage shows pupils being taught religious apartheid, -Muslims who adopt Western ways will be ‘tortured in afterlife’ -Unprovoked beatings captured on camera in Yorkshire madrassa, -Boy threatened with bench by senior student left in charge of class

It is an assembly hall of the sort found in any ordinary school. Boys aged 11 and upwards sit cross-legged on the floor in straight rows. They face the front of the room and listen carefully. But this is no ordinary assembly. Holding the children’s attention is a man in Islamic dress wearing a skullcap and stroking his long dark beard as he talks. …

Read more: Mail Online

Blasphemy, theirs and ours

by Adnan Farooq

In last ten years, beards have desecrated— in the literal and violent sense— 53 places considered holy by believers of different faith in Pakistan. They have bombed and raided mosques, churches, holy processions, seminaries, shrines, Imambargahs, missionary schools even hospitals. These acts of confessional desecration have claimed 1152 lives and maimed another 2780 innocent people, mostly co-religionists. Not a single incident has provoked any mullah, Media Mujahid or any media house to cry blasphemy. A committed Karachi-based activist and a fellow Viewpoint contributor, Muhammad Nafees, keeps compiling scary figures in his bid to wake a self-indulgent Pakistan up. The mainstream media almost never take note of his efforts. Undeterred, he keeps e-mailing his findings on e-mail lists. Look at the terrifying data, illustrating the breadth and depth of violent puritan blasphemies, he has dispatched:

Read more : ViewPoint

Ghost Schools In Sindh : Childern of Sindh have no luck

The documentary shows several ghost village schools in Mirpur Mathelo, Dadu, Obaro, and Badin, where the school buildings that are serving other purposes and for education. It is said there are now 5,000 such ghost schools. These schools exist on paper only as supposedly all teachers and other staff are receiving their salaries; the repair budget is being regularly spent in maintaining buildings; and students are being shown to be receiving education. But, in fact, no student is receiving any education at such schools.

The irony is that some of the schools reviewed in documentary are said to be in the villages where once families of many current and past ministers lived. The documentary mentions a school in the village of Pir Illahi Bux, who is the grandfather of current Sindh education Minister that has been closed for last nine yeas. A school village in the village of former Minister converted to a warehouse, and yet another school in the arae is in personal use of a wadera (feudal).

We have just become helpless bystanders watching this tragedy that unfolds in front of our eyes. Something has to be done, something must be done before generations of Sindhi boys and girls go without education. – (Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia)

Courtesy: GEO

Source – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCmREbwNN6s&feature=player_embedded

via – http://www.siasat.pk/forum/showthread.php?35015-Ghost-Schools-In-Sindh

29,035 schools in Sindh without power

by Prof. Gul Agha

It is great to see the govt. of Sindh focusing on these problems. Wish them luck to do what they can in whatever little time they have these ministries for, and with the meager resources that they can control.. the only hope is that a lot of international resources have been pouring in, particularly for education of Sindh but they have been mismanaged and lost to corruption…

Jun 25, 2008