Can Gordon Brown inspire Pakistan?

Yes, we shall in response to the call given by the former British prime minister Gordon Brown stand with Malala Yousafzai on November 10 in solidarity with our 32 million more daughters who, across the world, are denied of education. They do not go to schools and are denied of their fundamental right to learning.

And that is why the United Nations has declared on November 10 as "global day of action for Malala and 32 million girls more.- Brown, now UN Special Envoy for Global Education, will travel on the day will travel to Pakistan; deliver to its President, Asif Ali Zardari, "(one) million-plus petition to make education a reality for all Pakistani children.-

The attack on Malala has evidently woken the United Nations up from its stony slumber to "let the world know that we (UN) will no longer accept keeping girls out of school.- An adorable initiative indeed though long over due. Yet, doubt persists on how much will this encourage Pakistan in ensuring education for a few million girls of the country who are out of schools because its society in general views girls' education as a serious breach of norms and social codes.

In Pakistan, female literacy rate remains abysmally low at only thirty six per cent. It is a country where extra constitutional power centres like Taleban dares to ban education for girls in Swat region and has been blowing up schools for girls and even boys. In 2012 alone the militants have blown up 155 schools in Swat in a bid to keep the posterity illiterate, dogmatic and morally blind. They shot to kill Malala because she defied the messengers of primeval believes and was inspiring many more girls.

Gordon says that when he would handover the petition to Zardari he "will ask the President to lead governmental changes in policy to ensure the delivery of girls' education in Pakistan. I will also submit our petition to the United Nations to galvanize international support for the right of every child to go to school.- Gordon Brown, we are sure, will do his due diligence but to what extent shall the Pakistani government reciprocate remains to be seen.

Dr Akmal Hussain, a distinguished professor of Economics at Forman Christian College University and Beaconhouse National University, has minced little words in making it sure that not much can be expected of the Pakistan government.

In an incisive and hard hitting opinion article, he writes: "The clarity and courage of the schoolgirls of Swat is in sharp contrast to the confused and weak-kneed response of the state and mainstream political parties to the Taleban-Al Qaeda attack on Pakistan and its way of life. The military awaits an order from the government to enforce the law of the land in areas where the state has lost its writ. But the government dithers: it sought a consensus resolution from the National Assembly to do something 'practical' about those who had claimed responsibility for the targeted attack on Malala. The opposition parties significantly blocked the motion and the government meekly withdrew.-

The scenario is chilling and Gordon Brown's efforts, we are afraid, will only be an exercise in futility. We can only echo the anguish expressed by Dr. Hussain in asking, who will then stand up for the rule of law and the values that underpin a civilised society? The government and the political parties evidently cower in confusion and fear.

In Pakistan, as we have said earlier, the society is not inching but racing fast backward towards Stone Age. And to a large extent the government cannot avoid or deny its culpability. "In spite of the monstrous nature of the Taleban enterprise, they have been allowed, and for a time, encouraged to spread ignorance, intolerance and violence in significant sections of Pakistan's society.

They have also achieved influence over a number of political parties as well as sections of the media. At the same time, they have penetrated Pakistan's armed forces and demonstrated their ability to launch successful guerrilla attacks against key military installations in recent years. The declared objective of the Taleban is to capture the state of Pakistan. If they succeed in this, then they will establish control over our society through a reign of terror.-

With impunity these dark forces, teleported directly from the medieval ages into Pakistan in twenty first century, have publicly flogged and stoned to death several young girls, shot Malala only because she wanted to learn and know, beheaded innumerable Pakistani soldiers because they fought the just war to prevent their society from a spreading bane and assassinated politicians who refused to cower before their ghastly diktats.

Dr. Hussain is bang on target in diagnosing Pakistan's affliction. It is noteworthy that the successful penetration of society by the Taleban occurred because of the ambiguity of the state apparatus, which, for many years, nurtured some of the most dangerous Taleban groups as 'strategic assets'.

It is not surprising, therefore, that when these groups began to attack Pakistan, the political and military capacity to defend the country was weakened by path dependence: the inertia and resistance to redefining the principal national security threat.

How much can Zardari and his government comply to Gordon's appeal, therefore, remain uncertain. In Pakistan, where more than 1,000 women and girls are murdered in "honour killings- every year and where girls and women are made subservient to an archaic patriarchal society, can we expect a change overnight or somewhere in near future.


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