Extremist Islamists dominate Pakistan’s political problems. Prior to 1970s Pakistan was considered a moderate state. After the Dictator Ziaul Haq institutionalized the Islamization process in the last 40 years the politically Pakistan has tilted away from moderate to an extremist state dominated by extremist Islamists known as reactionary fundamentalist Muslims (RFM). Madrassahs teach reactionary fundamentalist theology and serves as fodder for jihadi recruits guided by college educated Islamists.
The number of RFM in Pakistan was less than 20% prior to 1970. After 1970 RFM are now called the Zia’s children and in last 40 years the Zia’s children have come of age and they account for more than 50% of Pakistanis. Pakistani army has employed Zia’s children in jihad not only in Afghanistan and India but also let it spread to the West and US. Pakistani army and Zia’s children have eliminated iconic civilian leaders – Bhutto family, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and the minority’s Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian among many more. The army is also responsible for dismemberment of Pakistan and for aggravating ethnic subnationalism, regional tensions and inequalities. Starting with Dictator Musharraf (2001 – 08) if America leaves Afghanistan the alarmed army grudgingly, in calibrated actions, is eliminating some Islamist leaders to deliver strategic value to it. Zia’s children are delivering dividends for the army in more than one way.
The leaders of Islamists are from well-established families. The notorious Pakistani accused of masterminding the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, is an engineer. The man accused of killing Daniel Pearl in Karachi, Omar Sheikh, studied at the prestigious London School of Economics. The madressah students who do become violent extremists are used as cannon fodder to serve objectives set by the university graduated Islamist leaders.
Many Pakistani op-ed generators possibly as paid PR agents of the government do not independently cross-check information provided by their handlers to learn facts about the state of education in Pakistan. It may be for the reasons that according to A. Cowasjee, Pakistanis do not delve into … archives because rather than searching for the truth, they prefer to live in a make-believe world.
In the age of internet connectivity conducting Google searches for fact check is not time consuming. It is much faster and not tedious time consuming tasks as is the researching of achieves.
Another observation is that many Pakistani op-ed writers fail to draw logical conclusion from data based on direct observations possibly as they fail to do the correct math. In this blog I provide a correct calculation method to estimate number of reactionary fundamentalist Muslims (RFM) in Pakistan.
Education is a foundation for moderation or as ex-dictator Musharraf may say of enlightened moderation. Over 8-years (2000-08) Musharraf’s attempts for madrassahs to register with the government failed and it is not difficult to figure out why?
Simply put Pakistani government does not spend as much as it should on the education of an estimated 100+ million youth, age below 25. Lacking personal resources millions of the youth end up in Saudi and Arab donors supported madrassahs that teach Islam to promote radical fundamental theology.
Simple math [formula: Number of RFM = (number of years)*(number of students graduating per year per school)*(number of schools and madrassahs)] shows that given information of number (40,000+) of active madrassahs and an average number (20 to 35+) of students graduating each year from each school, an estimated 32 to 60+ million youth are now RFM. RFM by any reasonable definition of moderation are mostly semi-literate or illiterate.
Taken in totality in 2011 the population of RFM is estimated to be much more than 25 million calculated using very conservative number (20) of students graduating per school. The average number of students per madrassah is 250+ and assuming that they receive education for 7 years each school graduates an average of 35+ students per year, not 20 as estimated. With the revision the number of RFM in Pakistan jumps up to 56+ million or about 33+% of Pakistani population. Chances are the correct number is in a range of 25 to 60 million (about 15% to 33+% of Pakistani population) is reactionary fundamentalist Muslims.
According to the Maajid Nawaz the vast majority of madressahs pose more of a socio-economic problem than they do a political problem. He correctly suggested that almost all leaders of the political Islamists are university educated and socially mobile. Punjab University and many more such schools are no madressah and they are well-known hotbeds of Islamists.
A segment of Pakistanis that maintain Pakistan is a moderate state are in denial. The culture of denial reinforces Islamism as murders of many civilian authorities continues unabated. Many Islamists politically motivated clerics and military officers thrive in Pakistan as they spout paranoid bigotry in the name of Islam, etc. The moderate’s failure to challenge Islamism ends up serving the Islamist cause. It is a self-defeating strategy if Pakistan is to return to its moderate Muslim state status.
References and notes:
- A. Cowasjee, “A recap of Soviet-Pakistan relations,” http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/13/a-recap-of-soviet-pakistan-relations.html
- A report called Education Emergency Pakistan was used for several reports, http://www.defence.pk/forums/current-events-social-issues/97108-education-emergency-pakistan.html
- Irfan Husain (The high cost of ignorance, http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/12/the-high-cost-of-ignorance.html)
compared education in Sri Lanka vs Pakistan using the same information.
- “One in 10 of the world’s out-of-school children (a number equal to the population of Lahore) are Pakistani. As many as 30,000 school buildings are in dangerous condition, posing a threat to the well being of children; while 21,000 schools have no building whatsoever”, http://www.zoneasia-pk.com/ZoneAsia-Pk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3844:madressahs-do-not-serve-as-an-alternate-to-state-sponsored-education-in-pakistan&catid=45:publicissues&Itemid=68
- “only six percent of students attend Madressah, according to the ‘Education Emergency Pakistan Report’ released on Tuesday by the Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF) as part of its March for Education Campaign. http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/pakistan-news/Karachi/09-Mar-2011/Madressahs-do-not-serve-as-an-alternate-to-Statesponsored-education-in-Pakistan
- As far as the results of State-sponsored education are concerned, only 35 percent of school children in Pakistan, between the ages of six and 16, can read a story, while 50 percent cannot even read a sentence; their performance is only slightly better than that of out-of-school children, of whom 24 percent can read a story,”
- In 1947 there were only 189 madrassas in Pakistan. In 2002 the country had 10,000-13,000 unregistered madrassas with an estimated 1.7 to 1.9 million students. A 2008 estimate puts this figure at “over 40,000″, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrassas_in_Pakistan
- Madrassahs are not the only educational infrastructure inducing extremism in Pakistan. Maajid Nawaz, “A dangerous narrative,” http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/15/a-dangerous-narrative.html
- As per available statistics on the website of the federal education ministry, only 507 madressahs have been
registered since former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf started madressah reforms in 2002, http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/13/madrassah-reforms-maing-no-headway-2.html
- …..the government and ITMP, a representative body of five madressah boards which have over 20,000 seminaries, had yet to agree whether there should be a collective madressah regulatory authority and how could madressahs could be upgraded to the level of regular education system. The official blamed both the government and ITMP for lack of seriousness.
- “The ITMP wants acceptance of its Wafaqs on the lines of public sector examination boards with no government interference at all. They are happy with the status quo.”
- According to latest statistics, Wafaqul Madaris Al-Arabia, which belongs to the Deobandi school of thought, has over 12,000 religious schools with an enrolment of around three million students. Tanzeemul Madaris, which follows the Barelvi school of thought, has over 6,000 seminaries with over 130,000 students. Rabata-ul-Madaris Al-Islamia, which is run by the Jamaat-i-Islami, has about 700 madressahs and nearly 100,000 students. Wafaqul Madaris Ashia, which belongs to the Shia community, has over 500 madressahs and around 10,000 students.
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