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Sunday, 20 March, 2011

the review

Goodbye, Raymond! The release of the CIA spy who killed two Pakistanis reveals the truth of the idiom: ‘beggars cannot be choosers’ By Hashim bin Rashid


The site’s imagining Raymond’s fate: The families themselves, overtly, had led the call for Raymond’s head. Faheem and Faizan’s families had themselves also seemingly marginalised the third deceased, Obaid-ur-Rehman’s family during their claims. The reports coming from the families were contradictory. On numerous forums, they appeared to be voicing concerns that they were under pressure from religious and political parties. The greatest show of force appearing to come from the Pakistan Tehreek i Insaf, who continued to find kind allies amongst the parties of the religious right (i.e. the JI and the JUI-F), there appeared to be other factors in play too. There was also the tussle between the CIA and ISI interplaying over the incident – overtly it manifested in the form of a diplomatic struggle where the US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Senator John Kerry in a face off with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and ex-Foriegn Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi . Behind the scenes, the CIA director and the ISI chief were also working out their differences. In the same context, a complex political facade was operating with ministers of

Our hypernationalism: The answer is to be found in the specific form of hyper-nationalism that is constructed in Pakistan. Media, albeit free media operates in cahoots with a set of interest-articulating bodies that shape the imaginations of what constitutes public interest. Rather dormant, we let them control our imagination. The control is exhibited to the extent that we were enthused by Raymond Davis’s purported niswaar addiction more than wanting to uncover what it was that he actually was tasked to do in Pakistan. And thus amongst this obsession with his niswaar addiction even major English newspapers were able to feed us articles silly enough to suggest that Raymond had been recruiting individuals for the Lashkar i Tayyaba (LeT). The truth was perhaps closer to the reverse: Raymond was likely attempting to infiltrate the LeT. I t must be remembered that the LeT is what the US and India accuse the ISI of controlling. The prior suggestion, popularised under the rhetoric of the admittedly notorious Blackwater, was found articulated amongst numerous reasonably learned individuals. And here is the point: we lose all sense of history, context – and therefore the truth of an event when we begin to look at it under the gaze of our hyper-nationalism. And that is indeed why while we continued to deliberate over what his ‘illegal’ activities in Pakistan were – and his diplomatic status – Raymond was whisked away through backchannel politics.  

Religious edicts against themselves: With respect to these backchannel politics, Raymond’s release was secured through a lingering Zia ul Haq legacy: the

qisas/diyat laws. Such liberty is not available within the web of colonial legal paradigms that still continue to be the fundamental tenants of the dayto-day of legal process in Pakistan. In this process, the status of Raymond’s diplomatic immunity would have been central. The tenant on which the case swinging was on whom Raymond’s offence was against: the State or the victims’ families? Frankly, as a public, we are yet to resolve that question. And, well, now the question itself has become out of bounds (i.e. it is no longer relevant). This is not the first time that the US resorted to the qisas/diyat law in Pakistan. An earlier report in this very paper suggested that it had been done at least twice before – to secure release of US diplomats in Pakistan after hit and run accidents. That the qisas/diyat law was used brings us to two reflections. First, on Pakistan’s legal system. This is the realisation that the Pakistani legal system runs at least two parallel systems (if not more) – a codification and separation that is colonial in its root (the construction of Muslim Personal Law). These parallel systems interlock to produce numerous contradictory outcomes. Second, on the ensuing condemnations. It is interesting to think about what our condemnations constitute. Rather more interesting will be the response of the religious organisations that had previously been asking for Raymond’s head. Will they take out a protest against their own law is the question being asked. It also makes us realise that by bringing the Islamic laws, the legacy of General Zia’s ghost has continued to be benign to the Americans.

Respecting the ‘real’ victim: This is a short, rather very short reflection. What exactly was it that the families of those killed in connection with the Raymond Davis wanted? We never really let them speak. In a conversation with the family (abstracts from which are also available to you), they articulated their concern about their own future and how, if they accepted compensation, they would be unable to live in Pakistan. Did the families not have a right to choose – unconstrained by public pressure? When we judge the families, we do not think of what we would have done in such a case. The boys who died were a source of income for their families. Despite public promises by a number of political parties, none had financially assisted them in private. A life lost is now lost.

We all have serious problems with the American influence in Pakistan. But – why use the shoulders of grieving families to shoot our gun? T h i s is not to suggest that the families of Faheem and Faizan did not exploit public sentiment. In fact, they appeared masters of exploiting public sentiment – till right before they went missing. But it is put to question: why were we looking for a catharsis for all that America On page 2-3 ‘Everyone is firing from our shoulders’ Excerpts from an interview with Faheem’s family

2 ‘Everyone is firing from our shoulders’ 4 Change we need

oof! He’s gone. Raymond Davis entertained us when we discovered he had shot two of our own. He had hurt something within us. What something? Ah, yes, you say it right. He hurt nationalist sentiment. So he left us after he hurt us. And we do not believe in the form of love where the beloved leaves us hurt (and this is despite the heavy doses of Ghalib and Faiz we all received in our adolescent years). What a pity? A beloved who hurts one has many things to teach. If only one lets him. But we were hurt. We have bad habits. And have yet to mature as lovers. On the evening of March 16 in a courtroom set up in the Kot Lakpat jail the families of the two men whom Raymond shot forgave him under what is speculated to be qisas. The lawyer of the families claimed he was unable to meet the families before they accepted qisas. The families themselves were also evacuated from Pakistan and given asylum at a yet to be discovered location (the US and Dubai are speculated).

state contradicting each other. A similarly complex battle was being orchestrated in the courts – who were trying to balance public sentiment, political pressure and legal formalism. To add to the emotion constructed around the event was Faheem’s wife, Shumaila’s purported suicide. Amongst all of this the question to ask is: why were we, ordinary and disconnected actors, hurt?

the review

‘Everyone is firing

from our shoul

Transcripts from an interview with Faheem’s family shows them concealing facts while it felt it was being used

Shumaila, the wife of Faheem commited suicide

Faheem’s brother Waseem Shamshad

By Hashim bin Rashid

A: The answer would be in the postmortem.

mond. But we will spill the beans after Raymond is taken to task.


Q: Do you have the postmortem? A: We have not been given the postmortem. When we pursued it the officials in charge would say it has been transferred. First, from Faisalabad to Lahore, and then Lahore to Islamabad; we do not understand this.

Q: Why not let the details out? A: If we do then the main case may weaken.

Q: What happened with Shumaila? A: Shumaila was disheartened and took wheat poison pills. She fainted while she was reading the Quran. She was taken to Allied Hospital in Faisalabad. Her stomach was washed. Doctors told us twice. At 330 she was fine and gave two interviews. At 4pm, she had died. Doctors kept her breathing on life-support. Finally they told us at 2am that she had died. But she had been dead since 4pm. Q: Do you think she died of the pills she took?

Q: What’s your view? A: We know it was not caused by the pills. She gave two interviews. Doctors kept us from seeing her after 4pm. Q: Why do you not speak about it? A: We will speak at the right time. We think it would hurt the case against Ray-

Q: But both are different cases? A: No. We have assessed and we think pursuing it will do so. Waseem, Faheem’s brother


Q: Has anyone contacted you? Is there any pressure on you? A: No one from either the PML-N or the PPP has contacted us. Imran Khan and the religious parties have come. We re-

ceived two calls from the Americans. The first was the day after Faheem’s murder. The second was the day when John Kerry came. We told them we were not ready to meet them. We wanted justice to be done – and so thought it pointless to meet. Q: Who do you think is sincere? A: The PML-N. We were told that Raymond was called by the federal government and a police officer was taking him to Islamabad when the Punjab government ordered him back. Q: Are you sincere when you say there is no pressure? [FATHER] Everyone is firing bullets from our shoulders. We do not retain the power to make our own choice.

Poetry that promotes tolerance

Illustrated & Designed by Babur Saghir

02 - 03

Sunday, 20 March, 2011


n a society divided by various linguistic, cultural and caste differences the importance of tolerance and restraint cannot be over-emphasized. No society or nation can sustain its existence in a volatile region without fostering the tolerance and forbearance in the society. The poets, writers and journalists of our country have been playing their most important part to promote these virtues in every phase of history. Conversely, the intelligentsia of a nation is a more effective source of inspiration than the politicians. It is high time that the poets and men of letters realised the need to fill the void with their inspiring views. The mystic poets of the sub-continent had played crucial rule in fostering harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst followers of a diverse variety of religions and faiths. These people spent their lives among the common people and gave expression to the sorrows and troubles of the common man. Being deeply associated with the have-nots, their message worked as a source of inspiration to all and sundry, penetrating the various layers of society.

Poets and writers are that section of society which has always been striving for the promotion of harmony and tolerance in every phase of history. For this noble purpose we have gathered here today to express our commitment with tolerance and non-violence. These views were expressed by Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui, an Urdu and English poet and Editor English, Pakistan Academy of Letters while conducting the National Mushaira organized by national NGO Bradasht in the hall of Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad. Award-winning Urdu poetess Noreen Talat Urooba jointly conducted the Mushaira. With prominent poets form the all over the country reciting their poems on tolerance, the veteran poet from Karachi, Prof. Sehar Ansari presided over the Mushaira and read his popular ghazals. The Chairperson Bardasht, Senator Nilofer Bukhtiar was the chief guest. She thanked all the poets who came from other cities and from the twin cities to express their solidarity against intolerance. She expressed her deep grief over the death of

ex-federal minister Shahbaz Bhatti. The poets along with reading poetry on tolerance read their gazals and nazms about love and friendship. The hall was bustling with crowd and people from all sections of society including students and journalists attended the Mushaira. The poets who recited their works include Prof. Sehar Ansari, Iftikhar Arif, Tauseef Tabassum, Amjad Islam Amjad,

Fahmida Riaz, Anwar Feroze, Sarmed Sehbai, Zafar Akbar Abadi, Hassan Abbas Raza,Abida Taqi, Durre Shahwar, Tauseef Tabassum, Nawabzada Khurshid, Dr. Sughra Sadaf, Tabasssum Akhlaq, Mehmooda Ghazia, Manzar Naqvi, Ghazanfer Hashmi, Shahida Dilawar Shah, Ali Yasir, Akhter Raza Saleemi, Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui, Ali Akber Natiq and Tanzeela Mazhar. Senator Nilofer Bukhtiar presented bouquets to all the poets.



A trio of new Urdu verse collections Poets are not mere versifiers, they are ‘seers’ too

P By Syed Afsar Sajid

Shumaila’s uncle tortured by unidentified armed men [WASEEM] (Interjects) But we want what they want. We want Raymond hanged.


Q: What about the offer of blood money? A: [WASEEM] We will not change our stance. But those who back us only back us through words – not actual support. If we accept the blood money we will be bashed by those who claim to support us. We have not been offered blood money. Where is the Friday Times based? [‘It is Pakistani’] Is it a daily? [‘No, weekly’] They claimed we had been offered blood money and we had accepted. We may contemplate legal action against them. [FATHER] No one would let us live here if we accepted the blood money. A newsre-

port citing we had accepted it was printed yesterday. People I met at the chai stall called me without honour. We cannot take our own decision. We are too weak to pursue the case on our own.


Q: What if Raymond is let go? A: If Raymond is let go, our trust is with the people and the courts. The government has planned to present false papers certifying Raymond’s diplomatic immunity. They asked them for a 3 week period. If they had the papers, why would they have asked for time.

Following illustrious tradition MaeN SaNs Torta Hua (Nazm) Author: Iqtedar Javed Al-Asr Publications, Urdu Bazar, Lahore Pages: 144; Price: Rs.500/-

(The interview was conducted at Faheem’s now abandoned house on February 22, 2010)

From Page 1

Goodbye, Raymond! had wronged us on their shoulders? The fact is that, due to public pressure, the voice of those directly affected was silenced. It was the rest of us speaking. They were only mimicking us – till they got their money. But can we really blame them? We did not show them respect either.

Still being anti-imperialist:

Despite this article putting to question a number of oft-held notions about the matter, we still maintain that the US has wronged. There is no question about it. In terms of the history of diplomacy, this event shall be unique and remain a matter of international discord. And it must. The United States of America’s record on human rights and justice has been legitimately queried again. The New York Times should have headlined: American murderer’s release secured. But it did not. It went with: ‘CIA contractor’s release secured from Pakistan.’ It did not even mention the murders he committed. The American media has revealed its complicity once with human rights abuses again. But this time it is more blatant: it is in

the name of nothing. But by a strange irony we can summarise the Raymond Davis affair into five short sentences. He came. He spied. He killed. He paid. He left. With Raymond gone, I suppose it is time that we thanked Raymond for showing us many things about ourselves. He showed us our sentiments are easy to fool. He showed us we sell easy. He showed us might is right. He showed us, ultimately, that beggars cannot be choosers. So as we say goodbye, we pass one final message to Raymond: “This meeting of friends was not long enough, Raymond. But thank you, Raymond, for being a mirror to us. We dedicate a couplet from Ghalib to the unattainability of our love for you: Yaar Se Chedh Chali Jaye ‘Asad’ Gar Nahin Vasl To Hasrat Hi Sahi Teasing the beloved cannot leave Ghalib If there be no union then the desire is enough Goodbye, Raymond! It was a pleasure being your hosts at the Kot Lakpat Jail!”

ublication of verse collections by poets seeking recognition in the literary world has now become a vogue. For a common reader it might be difficult to perceive or evaluate the merit of such books on a casual or cursory reading but a discerning reader would find the task easier. Poets are not mere versifiers, they are ‘seers’ too. To carve a distinct niche for one self in the camaraderie of poets therefore, one has to go through a creative ordeal akin to child bearing. Luckily in a growing crowd of such people, we have quite a good number of genuine practitioners of the art justifying their practice in terms of both quantity and quality. Iqtedar Javed, a banker by vocation, is a recognized nazmgo  of Urdu.  MaeN  SaNs Torta Hua  is a collection of forty-three poems flapped with introductory remarks by Sajjad Naqvi, Salim Agha Qizilbash and Zafar Iqbal.

NeeNd ki Note Book (Ghazal) Author: Mansoor Afaq Asateer, Mozang Road, Lahore Pages: 256; Price: Rs.250/-

As a seminal literary genre in Urdu, Nazm  does not enjoy the same popularity with poets as does  ghazal  owing probably to its innate cerebral texture. Iqbal, Hali, Nazeer Akbarabadi, Meeraji, Majaz, Faiz, Sahir Ludhianvi, Noon Meem Rashed, Majeed Amjad, Akhtarul-Eiman, Mustafa Zaidi, Ali Sardar Jafrey, Akhtar Hussain Jafrey, Wazir Agha, Fehmida Riaz, Amjad Islam Amjad, Satya Pal Anand, Nasir Ahmad Nasir et al  have����������� at different junctures groomed and transformed it into a thing of beauty in form and content alike. The  nazm  of Iqtedar Javed partakes of this illustrious tradition. It is an artistic blend of thought, feeling and experience in a quasimetaphysical strain reflecting the zeitgeist. The surrealistic character of his verse derives its vigour from symbolism, myth and introspection. It is ������������������������������ a poetry of protest and rebellion arising from the infructuous dreams of an idealist (and poets are idealists!). The grief and dismay of a sensitive urban dweller could be distinctly ‘heard’ amid the variegated undertones of these poems. Thus this book is sure to earn its author an enviable place in the rank of the writers of modern nazm in Urdu.

Modernistic fabric

MaeN aur Tum (Nazm & Ghazal) Author: Roobi Jafrey Dunya-e-Adab, Sadar, Karachi Pages: 195; Rs.150/-

Mansoor Afaq is a Pakistani expatriate living in the UK. His verse collection NeeNd ki Note Book first saw the light of the day    in    the year 2004. It is a composition of his  ghazals  numbering 106. The flaps of the book have been authored by Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Yasmin Habib whereas Syed Naseer Shah has written its exhaustive preface. The book opens with an interesting but illuminating ‘introduction’ as to its genesis by the author. He has narrated Saqi Farooqi’s reaction to its manuscript that he sent him for his comments. Saqi Farooqi

is an eminent poet and literary critic whose judgements though sometimes harsh, do carry substance and weight. In his close scrutiny of the script, Saqi generally appreciated Mansoor’s diction and style as also the freshness of his content. But he evinced little mercy in editing the ghazals. Most of his objections related to the structures and aesthetics of the verse. In fact this introduction is meant to vindicate the poet’s justification of his poetics vis-à-vis Saqi’s objections. Mansoor’s accent in ghazal is a bit loud but it is counter-balanced by the thematic overtones of his compositions. The protagonist here is embittered by the pain and penury rife in his environs regardless of their native topography. The use of the ‘topical’ idiom in Mansoor’s poetry serves to enhance its validity besides creating an intimate rapport between the poet and his reader. One would not disagree with Syed Naseer Shah’s adept appraisal of Mansoor’s  ghazal  when he says that the latter’s verse has a modernistic fabric with no trace of a ‘mystic passivity’ in it. Knowledge, innovation, energy and movement are its vital ingredients.

Poetess of feelings

Roobi Jafrey is a Karachi based poetess. Coming of a conservative family and living in relative seclusion, she was able to publish her verse collection MaenN aur Tum in the year 2004 when her ‘literary age’ was only four years. The book contains a Hamd, thirty-two nazms, two lyrics and eighty-five  ghazals. Four editions of the book have appeared in a row since then.  Roobi seems to be a poet of feelings. Her poem titled I’tiraf betrays the propensity. The canvas of her poems (nazm  and  ghazal) is limited. She talks of love and its concomitant sensations such as separation, loneliness, suffering, disillusionment, wistfulness and the like. The following lines from one of her ghazals speak for her poetic skill and maturity:

Yeh barg-e-naey say tapakta hua luhu kya hai Bureeda shakh may bhi khwahish-e-namu kya hai Tray wasaal ki mohlat yeh chand saNsaiN haiN Sawal kya hai, talab kya hai, arzoo kya hai UthaiN jo sooay falak ungliaN jhulas jaaeN Nisab-e-khak-o-khata tujh ko justuju kya hai Sada bagosh hai paiham sareer-ebaad-e-saba Mashaam-e-jaaN say guzarti yeh khooey boo kya hai Bus aik nuqtay say raushan hai mushaf-e-idraak Faseel-e-jaaN may yeh tarseel-eaab-e-joo kya hai

Sunday, 20 March, 2011

By Anum Yousuf


he “Education Emergency” has been trending t re m e n d o u s l y in the past few days and the chattering surrounding the issue has awoken the English-speaking and reading public from their proverbial slumbering. To state that Pakistan has an education emergency is stating the obviously obvious. According to the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, we have an astounding 7.3 million children out of school, the secondlargest in the world and our budget spending on education is all set to go down from 2.8 per cent in 2009 to 1.5 per cent of our GDP. So, we need to educate all these jaahils, right? Because this is how they will become better citizens and voters, non? Well, not because of this elitist logic. Because it will make Pakistan’s economy grow and give Pakistan human capital? Well, not because of this materialistic logic either. We should provide it just because. Period. An ill-in-itself, a lack of education is indeed one of the biggest obstacles in social and economic mobility and it is one of the basic problems sustaining the sorry state of inegalitarianism and fragmentation in this country. And according to Article 25A of the 18th Amendment, education is now a basic right of every child through the ages of 5-16. So, it’s now official. Moreover, the lack of provision of education was first a moral failure at the part of the government but now it constitutes a legal failure as well. There is no disagreement on whether there should be education. Nobody in their right mind will say that there shouldn’t be education. This is something the common man and the not-so-common man agree on. All political parties have expressed some kind of commitment to education in their manifestoes. But the success of a reform agenda is a totally different thing. One needs to look into why the Pakistani state has repeatedly failed to reform education and if its policy is to succeed, what troubles need to be addressed.

Why has the state failed? There is no denying the state has failed at reform. And how. And how many times. There have been a total of 10 education policies that have been drafted and then promulgated. Yet, we have an education emergency at our hands still. The specificities of failure are evident. Saying Pakistan is a country beset by troubles is an understatement and these troubles (security situation, collapsing economy, failure of good governance, corruption inter alia) are what have created the current context for our failure to reform education. But in addition to these particularities, there is a larger more general context for the failure of policies and policy-making in Pakistan.

As stated above, there is universal consensus on the fact that there should be education reform. But what shape and form this reform agenda will take is a policy matter and policymaking in Pakistan in general (not just educational policy) has historically been removed from the socio-political ground realities of the country. This fissure between policy and reality has not only led to an inexorable crisis of implementation but

in that direction and that step is the devolution of the education portfolio in the 18th Amendment.

has also meant that policymaking has been burdened by an amorphous discourse of platitudes and trite trash. No policy has ever concretised a realistic reform agenda. Plus, Pakistan’s administrative setup is shoddy beyond imagination. They are murky waters and murky to an extent that one does not indeed know that which policy is to be implemented by which administrative tier. The confusing overlap between federal, provincial and district administrations has generally meant that Pakistan’s administrative structure has been unresponsive to grass-root needs and has generally exacerbated the crisis of implementation. But these are long-standing problems that have been caused by constant interruption of the political process. Just because that the state has failed in this regard does not mean that it is going to. The solution to the reform of education has to be a political one. There is no two-ways about it. It is only the democratic process that will give Pakistan the education reform it wants and needs as the military elite of Pakistan has a stake in promoting centrist and anti-revisionist education reform. Converting the ‘should’ of education reform into a concrete and effective policy agenda will need a long and onerous political process. The encouraging thing is that the first step has been taken

further to the district level. The contingencies of education reform vary from province to province. For example, the problems of reform in KP where girl schools are blown up regularly by the Taliban are different from say Punjab where the issues are different. The problems of Balochistan where the deepening discontent leads people to distrust the state and thus not send their children to school are so very different from the other provinces. These are just illustrative points to highlight that the context for education reform is variegated in (and within) each province. Each province has its own myriad of problems to deal with (differences in infrastructure, differences in budget, different demographics, different levels of urbanisation and the list goes on and on) and even the rural and urban areas need different policies. A provincial policy for reform will be much more effective than a national policy which might not be specific enough. There must be national direction set by impetus coming from a committed political leadership but the focus needs to be more localised to improve the reform’s efficacy and responsiveness.

Taking it down: Education and Devolution What needs to be understood is that education is a national problem with local dimensions. Even though devolving it to the provinces is a step in the right direction, it can be taken even

What next? So devolution was the first step. But what would a successful reform policy look like and how would

it operate. Firstly, a leadership committed to education needs to evolve. It means leadership at every tier from the PM, the CM and the Education Secretary to the Headmaster Saab in the school. Here it must be reiterated why the reform process can only be political and not technocratic. Because this is the only way to create leadership that sees education as a political issue that needs to be urgently addressed. Unless there is political will and ownership regarding the

issue, there will be no longterm efforts in this regard. Public will needs to be transmuted into political will and the process is long but it will ensure that the leadership will then know that the issue matters and must be dealt with. Given the current state of affairs in Pakistan, any reform policy would show signs of improvement in more than two or three years and the problem’s solution would span decades. This means that it will be beyond the tenure of a single government. Hence, continuity is the key to success. So by turning the issue into a real political issue rather than just a filler slot on the manifesto will mean that it will be entrenched into the political discourse meaningfully ensuring long-term attention to press the issue. Continuity of policy also needs multi-party consensus and that can only be ensured through the political process. Though not above politicking and venality, our politicians have demonstrated that they can indeed evolve a consensus on issues that matter. At least on some of them. Educational policy needs that. Consensus and continuity, deals with the will behind the policy. But a real successful policy needs to be responsive and needs

to rise above myths and clichés that have plagued public discourse surrounding the system. For example, a policy that is predicated on the fact that we need more money to fix our problems is setting itself up to fail because there is a scarcity of resources available and that is not going to change anytime soon. The funds are inevitably going to decrease. According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011, Pakistan spends seven times as

money is a proximate determinant of success but where this money goes is a bigger determinant. It must be emphasised that any successful reform policy wouldn’t just deal with infrastructure issues such as building schools and training teachers, it would also zero in on curricular reform. Our antirevisionist curriculum loaded with doctrinaire discourse and heavy centrist and statist tendencies is a cause of many of the problems this state has seen and a force of

much on arms than on schools. Cutting military spending by a mere 15% would be enough to finance universal primary education. Obviously, we would love 15 per cent of that pie but our military isn’t going to give us anything so education will have to deal with the 1.5 per cent GDP that it does get. So a reform policy needs to spend smarter by appropriating the resources it does have efficiently and prioritising. Again, it needs to address ground realities to spend the money smartly. Is teacher training more important than other things? Are pay-scales enough? Is it better to build new buildings or to refurbish the old ones? Is it better to spend on decreasing student dropout ratios or teacher absenteeism? So, money matters matter a lot. How much

oppression in the smaller provinces. If we continue to dispense this curriculum, this education emergency will turn into an emergency of another kind. This is a very thorny issue and one with a lot of ideological underpinnings but devolution should make it a little easier to deal with. Education reform must also deal with regulating and/or monitoring the non-public actors that have taken up the provision of education in the face of the public state failure to do so. These include private sector schools, madrassahs and NGOs. While not a bad thing in and of itself, an entirely unregulated private sector with no monitoring of quality or standardisation is not a good thing either. This is also an issue that reform policy needs to address. All these issues of policy (especially that of curriculum reform and the regulation of nonstate actors) merit separate and much more detailed discussion: a luxury that this space does not afford. There needs to be more meaningful discourse generated around the issue, so that when the public sector is reformed and pushed to deal with this crisis, it does so in the right way. It shouldn’t be a passing trend but a sustained conversation that can affect policy change. I hope against hope that the chattering of nowadays can amount to that.

The Review - 20th March, 2011 - Pakistan Today  

The Review, Pakistan Today's current affairs magazine, speaks of the issues most relevant to us. Come to The Review for a lively discussion...

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