Monday, May 04, 2009

Pakistan: Conflicting views of a deteriorating situation.

The news from Pakistan gets more worrisome by the day. Not only because the situation is obviously deteriorating but because the legitimating explanations for the situation there are so different, depending on which side of the information flow you are on. Today’s New York Times has two articles on the situation, one yesterday, all revealing how dangerous is the long term trend. Compare those with an article by Iqbal Jafar in Dawn today.

The NYTimes article by Sabrina Tavernise [“Pakistan’s Islamic Schools Fill Void, but Fuel Militancy”], for instance, describes the conditions under which the madrasas of Pakistan have grown in number. The government and the wealthy class have no interest in funding a viable educational system for the country, madrasas are a source of income for those whose only training has been in the memorization of the Koran, and anyway education beyond learning to recite the Koran is not prized among the poor. The trend in Pakistan seems to be toward the continuance if not the expansion of Islamic schools. Such schools are not necessarily radical or Islamist but some of them can be an early stage in the radicalization of some young people. [For this article go to:]

Consider how different is the view presented in Dawn today, “The roots of fanaticism,” by Iqbal Jafar. His point is that the advance of other religious groups into “Muslim lands” is the cause of the advance of Islamic insurgency. His concluding sentence captures it all: “Hence, so long as Muslim lands remain under the occupation of others [Jews, Christians, Hindus], militants will be seen as freedom fighters and liberals as collaborators of the West. The West should not, therefore, expect to eliminate the militants while it remains in possession of Muslim lands. . . . As for the liberals, they will be lucky if they merely cease to be relevant.” [For this article go to:]

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