Education and Ignorance By Syed Kaswar Gardezi

It is an orchard which bears fruit for generations to come
Despite jubilation and triumph continuing into its second week over Imran Khan’s victory, a painful and harsh reality surfaced. The backward, intolerant and illiterate society crept up its ugly head when 12 girl’s schools were torched in the northern areas of Pakistan; the epitome of a misogynistic mindset prevalent in the country.
As expected, condemnations were received from all over the nation, however, the very fact that such elements exist breeds an air of uncertainty. Not long ago, the people of Swat witnessed similar occurrences in the shape of Mullah Fazalullah, the firebrand militant who was stringently against education being provided to girls.
Though Fazalullah is long gone and the people of Swat valley live in peace, it is agonising to see isolated pockets of the same mindset persisting. The torching of girls schools in Gilgit-Baltistan is nothing but a revival of Mullah Radio’s memory. The fiery speeches are absent but the practical steps to ensure eradication of girls have been taken. These steps may not hinder our resolve to fight against terrorism and shall certainly not preclude us from according education to girls. However, it does stigmatise the nation and highlight societal defects present within.
The war may have largely been won yet the actual fight against ill mindsets is far from being won. Apparently, those responsible for burning the schools were locals and not some brainwashed foreign militants. It would have been easier to accept these events had they been undertaken at the behest of non-state actors or other foreign militants. But the fact that the accused are from the same area is traumatising and worrisome. It means an intolerant mentality rules certain people to the extent of making them undertake events, the likes of which were displayed a few days back.
Decisive action against the culprits of GB coupled with the construction of two dozen schools as a replacement to the 12 burned is urgently required
In spite of the war being fought on the national level by the armed forces of Pakistan, a significant breakthrough which is everlasting is still needed. The army has done it job by practically fighting out the militants. However, a proper rehabilitation and awareness in regards to these aspects has to be provided by the government. The road to education and knowledge has to be cleared from all the hurdles present. Without proper education, the hopes of a progressive Pakistan will blow away with the wind without actually materialising.
Those poor souls who wish to seek education and rise along with other people of the society are deprived of their basic fundamental right. Sometimes even the legal experts sitting on TV screens fail to point out that the laws of Pakistan do apply to other far flung areas as well. This amounts to infringement of constitutional rights in the same sense as it would in Islamabad or Karachi.
A ray of hope is prevalent in the hearts of the millions who voted PTI into power. Those inked thumbs will be put to waste amidst shattered dreams if Khan fails. There is no room for failure. Because this isn’t about his own political survival or his party’s achievements. But rather, the educated class has put faith in him to secure the future of the incoming generations. At the moment, he seems to be the only one who isn’t pondering over construction of roads or the provision of subsidised public transport. On the contrary, he has promised to divert his energy in ensuring provision of basic education and healthcare.
Education is an orchard which bears fruit for generations to come. As time progresses, the fruit turns sweeter. Imran Khan would do a great service to this nation if he is successful in planting this orchard in the country. More importantly, the education of women needs to be prioritised. As mothers, these women pass on their knowledge to the children early on in their lives. Educated mothers bring about a better class of children as opposed to poor women made to remain illiterate. We have to teach the future generations how to think, not what to think.
The ability to decide right and wrong will create its own way provided the right direction is given at the outside. None of these highways or metros is going to help the country achieve success. It is only education that kindles the flame of advancement. Only education can help win the war against intolerance and illiteracy. Not only would it help in progression but a tolerant society can be brought to shape. Minorities can be protected in spirit due to an educated class of people surrounding them.
Eradication of misogyny can only be undertaken under the guise of education. It shall serve as the key to unlock the doors of freedom. Freedom from the ignorant society that is hell bent upon clutching the dreams of young children effectively turning them into nightmares.
Decisive action against the culprits of GB coupled with the construction of two dozen schools as a replacement to the 12 burned is urgently required. Let’s hope that our country moves from darkness towards the light, guided by the flame of education.
Albert Einstein persuasively, and rightly so, stated:
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of minds to think”.

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