THE ongoing school and college examinations across the country mark the advent of the cheating season. As expected, the national discourse is now focused on the malpractices of both candidates and examiners. Also under discussion are the incompetency and corruption of the examination boards which not only tolerate this ugly feature of our education system but actually facilitate it.
A HEFTY sum of over a trillion rupees has been earmarked for education collectively in the federal and provincial budgets for 2021-2022 that were announced in June. This amount has been growing over the years. But this massive financial investment in human resources has not produced the impact that could have rationally been expected on the learning outcomes of children in Pakistan. This has been confirmed year after year by Aser (Annual Status of Education Report).
IS PAKISTAN secure? Yes we have a nuclear deterrent; but we would have to be pushed to the very edge to employ it. This means outsiders seeking to push and control Pakistan’s direction for diverse purposes, can, to a sufficiently large extent, afford to ignore it: Except that Pakistan’s nuclear actualities make it a factor in the global power calculus. So how vulnerable is Pakistan to sundry pushes in any ‘preferred’ political direction?
IN media parlance what would the Bahria Town Karachi incident that took place on Sunday, June 6 be called? It was not fake news, considering that a large number of protesters and the police were involved and some violence also occurred that day on Super Highway. But the way the facts were twisted by a section of the media, both social and mainstream, one would certainly call it a case of misreporting.
The impression was sought to be created that the protesters — including various civil society groups and people who have been struggling to save their ancestral lands from the avarice of the land grabbers — resorted to violence and arson. But from the accounts of those present on the scene (I spoke to Sheema Kermani of Tehreek-i-Niswan and Khuda Dino Shah from the Indigenous Peoples) an altogether different picture emerges: it was clearly a false flag operation to vilify the protesters and spread dissension among the diverse ethnic groups that constitute Sindh’s population.
WHEN schools in many parts of the world have resumed education in varying degrees, why are our schools still shuttered? The irony is that this is the fate of institutions that cater to the needs of the poor who are already deprived. I feel the matter has not been given serious thought. Even in pre-Covid times public-sector education in Pakistan was rotting. Now it is about to hit rock-bottom.
Plaudits are due the revolving pageant of official Information bigwigs whose fatuity conceals the adroit competence of their ministry of information, no matter which of them is managing it. That institution has the varied segments of public opinion exactly as it would have them be: numbed and distracted with statements both highly-charged and conflicting; repetitive and inconsistent; contradictory and confirmative; denying and reaffirming; so that no one quite knows what the government and its minions and bogeymen are about. Reportage and news is a turbid flood of speculative analyses and patchy investigations of what could be reality or should be reality or may or may not have happened.
HOW many of Pakistan’s 225 million like to habitually connect with nature? Unsurprisingly, not many. Most of the urban population lives in man-made subhuman conditions while those in the villages lead a brutish life of want imposed on them by feudal leaders. Not being educated, people are unaware of their own rights, let alone the significance of the environment.
ONE aspect of I.A. Rehman’s priceless legacy was his restless spirit that drove him to champion the cause of freedom and human rights in Pakistan. The huge community of human rights activists in the country drew inspiration from his rational and encouraging leadership.
Many of us — his juniors — were constantly turning to him to draw from his limitless pool of knowledge and saw him as a pillar of strength. In the gloom that followed his death I felt comforted when I received a book of poetry that resonated with me. It touched the same causes Rehman Sahib had inspired us to espouse. Titled Eik Subh Aur Aaygi and containing 103 poems by Anis Haroon, the book is a powerful statement on the sad state of human rights in Pakistan that has brought the country to the brink of a catastrophe.
OUR politicians — whether in office or in the opposition or on the streets — have a bizarre mindset. They think of their personal and family’s concerns first rather than the country’s interests when it faces a grave problem.
Look at the issue of the census and the lurking crisis of population explosion which seems to worry no one. The census is mandated by the Constitution and is to be held every 10 years. Its results form the basis of the number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies and also how the federal divisible pool is distributed among the provinces.
RECENTLY I received a call from Ali Mohammad Goth (in Jahoo Tehsil, population 40,033) in Awaran, Balochistan. Jahoo Tehsil has only two high schools for girls. Scores of students from one of these schools had demanded books to read. This message was conveyed to me by their headmistress Ms Sabar-un-Nisa, courtesy Shabir Rakhshani, the education activist of Awaran. This made me jump up.