Monday, May 04, 2009

Madrasas in Punjab and the recruitment of suicide bombers

The pace is frightening. How quickly has the focus of discussion shifted from North and South Waziristan to Swat and now to Punjab. In Pakistan we have been guilty of woefully ignoring education - and it seems now that Pakistanis may have to pay a very heavy price for that. Here is an article about madrasas in Punjab. Please also see this slide-show - it gives you a glimpse of the conditions of madrasas and the faces therein.

The concentration of madrasas here in southern Punjab has become an urgent concern in the face of Pakistan’s expanding insurgency. The schools offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.

In an analysis of the profiles of suicide bombers who have struck in Punjab, the Punjab police said more than two-thirds had attended madrasas.

This impoverished expanse of rural southern Punjab, where the Taliban have begun making inroads with the help of local militant groups, has one of the highest concentrations of madrasas in the country.

Of the more than 12,000 madrasas registered in Pakistan, about half are in Punjab. Experts estimate the numbers are higher: when the state tried to count them in 2005, a fifth of the areas in this province refused to register.

Though madrasas make up only about 7 percent of primary schools in Pakistan, their influence is amplified by the inadequacy of public education and the innate religiosity of the countryside, where two-thirds of people live.

The public elementary school for boys in this village is the very picture of the generations of neglect that have left many poor Pakistanis feeling abandoned by their government.
But how bad has education been in Pakistan? Well...what more is there to say when girl's enrollment in Pakistan is behind that of Ethiopia.
But even today, only about half of Pakistanis can read and write, far below the proportion in countries with similar per-capita income, like Vietnam. One in three school-age Pakistani children does not attend school, and of those who do, a third drop out by fifth grade, according to Unesco. Girls’ enrollment is among the lowest in the world, lagging behind Ethiopia and Yemen.
Read the full article here. Also read an earlier post: Education and Pakistan's drift towards theocracy.

Also, you should check out this Frontline video Children of the Taliban with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (it is quite amazing that she has been able to go to all these areas!). In the first segment, you can see bombed out schools about 6 minutes into the video. A few minutes later, we hear the sound of a mortar - along with an unrelated regular call for prayers. What more is there to comment? Here is the first segment [Aug 6: Video removed at the request of the film-maker]:

In case you have been sleeping fine, check out the last segment of the video about a madrassa in Karachi (yes, this madrasa is in Karachi!) and see the assembly line of possible suicide bombers. Some of these pictures reminded me of the use of child soldiers in many of the civil wars in Africa. Below is the last segment of Children of the Taliban [Aug 6: Video removed at the request of the film-maker]


Anonymous said...

How much sallary do FREEMASON provides for you to write these type of article?

Salman Hameed said...

Oh wait a minute. I could have been paid by the Freemasons?? Oh well. Now that I know, let me also get comparative rates from the Knight Templars and the Knight Riders.

Butters said...

Hey, thanks for putting this up. I blogrolled you, if that's okay.

Salman Hameed said...




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