The Aga Khan falls victim too

No thanks for the do-gooder

That Pakistan’s madrassas are breeding grounds for jihadi terrorists is quite well known. Musharraf’s failure to reform the madrassa system is the most obvious evidence of his inability or unwillingness to curb the sinister vein of Islamic militancy that runs through the Pakistani body fabric.

Less well known is Pakistan’s failure to reform even its mainstream educational system – and purge the syllabus off its sectarian and religious hatred. Perhaps inspired by Musharraf’s public pronouncements, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) – an international Islamic ‘non-denominational development agency’ – tried to introduce changes into the syllabus. The results were spectacular – the Islamic fundamentalist ‘opposition’ led by the Jamaat-i-Islami incited mobs that damaged or destroyed institutions run by the Aga Khan Foundation.

The Islamist parties are resisting every move to cleanse Pakistan’s education system of its fundamentalist blot. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami writes that the syllabus changes are a conspiracy hatched by western powers with the connivance of the Ismaili community – a religious minority sect of Shia Islam of which the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader.

The Jamaat-i-Islami feels that the AKF was unknowingly or deliberately used by the colonial powers to implement their agenda of scrapping Islamic ideology and principles from the minds of the new generations under the cover of liberty and development.

The party is of the view that organizations like the AKF, which believe in homework and research, could not have overlooked the real agenda of western donors behind their prompt and over-generous aid to Pakistan.

The Jamaat-i-Islami has no objection if the AKF runs schools as it has been doing, but controlling educational boards will allow it powers that interfere with the syllabi and to make arbitrary changes in this, which is wrong in principle.

Why a religious minority should not control the education system in a country founded on religious ideology is because education is important for the mental orientation of young generations, and the preservation or degeneration of ideology in the minds of children depends mainly on the kind of education they receive. [Dawn]