It was not a very happy Eid-ul-Fitr this year. With so many innocent lives lost just on the eve of Eid the nation could hardly be expected to be in a celebrity mood to enjoy the happy occasion in the conventional manner.
The senseless killings in Quetta and Parachinar is attributed to the on-going religion-related and sectarian driven terrorism that the country has been suffering since the advent of what has been misleadingly called jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the late 1970s. This enigma needs one more thorough attempt to find the reasons that continues to fuel this terror madness.
Meanwhile, the oil-tanker accident near Bhawalpur that has cost as many as 190 lives was less an accident and more of a criminal negligence of responsibility committed by the owners of the oil-tanker.
If one has to treat the bloody incident as a poverty and ignorance driven catastrophe following an unavoidable accident then all those oil-tankers that carry fuel from Karachi port to the up North would need to be treated as death on wheels disemboweling fatalities anytime and anywhere before reaching their final destination on the highway.
It is a general understanding that the oil-tankers are sealed tightly enough to withstand such accidents. These tankers are supposed to be made up of reinforced un-breakable steel withstanding come hell or high water. They are not expected to burst open like card-board boxes on such falls. Of course, these tankers have aging process as well. It is the responsibility of the oil tanker owners to know exactly when a tanker has served its natural tenure and needed to be put it to bed, that is sold as scrap.
That perhaps was the state of the tanker that turned over because of tyre burst (?) near Bhawalpur.
So the owners of the tanker had not only put on road an accident prone, unsafe tanker the road but it had also failed to do a simple check of the tyres on which the tanker was to run. Or maybe they did check the tyres as well as the state of the oil-tanker, found both unworthy of road but still took the risk of putting the two on the road out of total greed—to save a few rupees that they would have lost out of their profit margin had they scrapped them at that point.
So, in fact it was the greed of the oil-tanker owners that is responsible for the death of so many innocent people near Bhawalpur and not the poverty of the people of the area. Ignorance, of course did play a crucial part in this mayhem, but the real culprit is the criminal negligence of the owners of the oil-tanker in question. One hopes that a complete overhaul is conducted of all the oil-tankers in use in the country by competent personnel and the fitness tests of their tyres and other equipment of these road runners are conducted before issuing certificates of health to these tankers. And meanwhile, those responsible for the criminal negligence are brought to book and made accountable for such huge loss of innocent lives.
Now let us turn to the terror incidents of Quetta and Parachinar. While the number of such incidents have come down drastically since the launch of Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 and its continuation in the form of Ruddul Fasaad since late last year, the degree of intensity and the extent of devastation of each one has remained too tragic for words.
It appears as if the terror gangs are finding it increasingly difficult to penetrate the defensive cover built by the law enforcement agencies. However, since they keep looking for vulnerable spots at times they do succeed in finding a target. What however is intriguing is their success in finding increasing numbers of sectarian targets. It is time our law enforcement agencies mount increase vigilance at such targets, especially the Hazaras of Quetta and the Shias of Parachinar.
One certainly cannot rule out the overflow into Pakistan of Shia-Sunni confrontation in the Middle East. Most probably, it could be petro-dollars that is driving our sectarian fanatics to commit such bloody incidents at regular frequency.
There is another possibility, no matter how remote. The Indian RAW has been known to have started avenging what is happening in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) by committing terror incidents inside Pakistan using disgruntled Baloch nationalists and other terror groups on rent offer.
While it is imperative that the law enforcement agencies should increase their vigilance against threat of violence against sectarian minorities as at the same time effectively cutting the financial flows from oil rich Sunni Middle East countries as well as from an India gone mad due to its never ending bloody problems in the IOK, the country needs to do something urgent against the extremism that has taken over the psyche of the nation and which actually provides the breeding ground for terror organizations.
In this regard the first step to be taken is reforming the education sector. Any measure aimed at reforming education should help achieving knowledge-based society. Only then can individuals be made more immune to the monolithic messaging of militants.
Pakistan’s education system is deeply flawed. The country’s multi-directional education system itself deepens the social divides. There are public schools, some capable to offer courses in English, others relying on Urdu mostly; private schools, aligning with the financial status of the parents of the students; madrassas, registered with one sect-based board, among other types of schools.
A student of one school grows with a world-view completely dissonant with that of another. When they grow up, their interests and fear completely diverge, sometimes, in contestation to each other.
Even though radicalization these days is cross-cutting phenomenon, the role of students varies from school to school. Worst of all, all these students are inter-connected with one another too, thereby exchanging positive as well as negative experiences.
Providing education is state’s duty. If the state is serious in addressing extremism, the state shall put all its efforts in revamping education system. It is a right duly acknowledged in Article 25-A, but this constitutional obligation, of providing free education to children, is not duly met. We need to hold state responsible for this weakness and demand from reforming of the sector to attain a modicum of uniformity in the system.
There is a need to reform curriculum to produce enlightened minds. The education-extremism link does not come out from those who are uneducated, that the illiterate ones fall for exclusive messages. Far from it. In Pakistan’s case the link comes from the way the prevailing curriculum have radicalized students. Today, they are uncomfortable with condemning militant acts, which they thought were the right acts.
Several studies have found intellectual and moral flaws in the content of Islamic and Pakistan studies for a diverse country like Pakistan: non-Muslims are made to read the subjects too; the subjects interpret some historical events in purely religious languages; historical events are selectively presented, without offering the viewpoint of the other side; all the role models are warriors, war itself is eulogized.
In short the worldview presented in subjects like these are not dissimilar to the extremists’. It is therefore unsurprising that students from mainstream educational institutions are unable to shield against the incursion of militant ideology.