Monday, November 24, 2008

In Pakistan next week

I'm planning on going to Pakistan next week for a short visit. I'm going there after about a year and a half - and it seems that things have...hmm...worsened a bit over there. But it will be good to have some feel for how people are viewing the current situation in the tribal areas. I am spending most of my time in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, but I will be in Karachi on Dec 4-5th. If you are in Pakistan and interested in a talk on science and religion, I will be giving a talk at the physics department of Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad on Dec 2nd. The title is Science, Religion and the Search for our Origins. I will also be giving this talk in Karachi on December 4th at The Second Floor at 7pm.

On the current situation in Pakistan, yesterday's NYT had an excellent op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristoff about education efforts in Pakistan's tribal areas. Here is his video report (it gives a nice idea of the schools) and here is the part of the column that focuses on education:

Fourth, let’s focus on education. One reason the country is such a mess today is that half of all Pakistanis are illiterate.

In the southern Punjab a couple of days ago, I dropped in on a rural elementary school where only one teacher had bothered to show up that day. He was teaching the entire student body under a tree, in part because the school doesn’t have desks for the first three grades.

One happy note: I visited a school run by a California-based aid group, Developments in Literacy, which represents a successful American effort to fight extremism. DIL is financed largely by Pakistani-Americans trying to “give back,” and it runs 150 schools in rural Pakistan, teaching girls in particular.

Tauseef Hyat, the Islamabad-based executive director of DIL, notes that originally the plan was to operate just primary schools, but then a group of 11-year-old girls threatened to go on hunger strike unless DIL helped them continue their education in high school. Ms. Hyat caved, and some of those girls are now studying to become doctors.

Mr. Obama should make his first presidential trip to Pakistan — and stop at a DIL school to remind Pakistan’s army and elites that their greatest enemy isn’t India but illiteracy.
What an excellent effort by DIL. Read the full article here and here is the website of DIL.


Ali Kazim Gardezi said...

hey its great to learn that u'll be pakistan and speaking abt the topics of our interest. just wondering would it be possible for u to get ur lectures captured and share it on youtube or somethimg.

I've spoken to sabeen of t2f about the same earlier. I wish i could attend but it will not be possible.

I remember u delivered a lecture for KSS Pakisatn when u visited Pakistan last time. wonder if we can find the video, somewhere :)

Salman Hameed said...

I actually don't know about the setup at T2F - so can't say anything about that. I don't know about the status of the KSS video either - they did record the lecture - as far as I remember.

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