Reli­gious ed­u­ca­tion

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - Dr A Q Khan

ON Oc­to­ber 22, I wrote a col­umn en­ti­tled “Ed­u­ca­tion and man­ners,” in which I ex­am­ined the influence of ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing on man­ners. Among the many pos­i­tive re­ac­tions there was one from a gen­tle­man who had reser­va­tions about my com­ment that some re­form to the cur­ricu­lum of reli­gious schools could do won­ders. By “won­ders” I did not mean “mir­a­cles” (that is the priv­i­lege of Almighty Al­lah alone), but sim­ply a pos­i­tive out­come.

My idea was that students com­ing out of these schools would then not only have reli­gious knowl­edge (Qu­ran, Seerat-unNabi, Ahadees, etc.) but also knowl­edge of Urdu, math­e­mat­ics, sci­ence, his­tory, ge­og­ra­phy, etc. This would en­able them to be­come bet­ter, more in­formed, cit­i­zens. I had a com­pre­hen­sive plan worked out to deal with this mat­ter, about which I will elab­o­rate later.

As we all know by now, Gen Mushar­raf did not come from a highly ed­u­cated back­ground. In his deal­ings with me, he al­ways showed an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex. I never un­der­stood why he seemed to feel threat­ened. Af­ter his il­le­gal coup on Oc­to­ber 12, 1999, I met him on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions and ev­ery time he tried to in­tim­i­date me. He seemed to for­get that when he was still a ma­jor, click­ing his heels and sa­lut­ing me, I al­ready had gen­er­als as col­leagues work­ing with me as part of my team.

Nat­u­rally I couldn’t ac­cept his at­ti­tude and in one of these meet­ings I told him that, since I had done the job I came to do, I would like to re­tire and de­vote my en­er­gies to ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. This has been recorded by Gen Khalid A Kid­wai and a copy of the min­utes sent to me.

Af­ter a few days I was of­fered the post of min­is­ter of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy by Gen Aziz (CGS) and Gen Kid­wai on be­half of Gen Mushar­raf, which I po­litely re­fused on per­sonal grounds. When asked to rec­om­mend some­one else, I named my good friend, Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rah­man, who was sub­se­quently ap­pointed to the post. Upon my re­tire­ment on March 31, 2001, I was of­fered the post of ad­vi­sor (fed­eral min­is­ter) for strate­gic projects and KRL Af­fairs. I was not at all keen to ac­cept and did not re­spond im­me­di­ately.

I only ac­cepted the of­fer af­ter some se­nior army of­fi­cers and civil­ian friends pressed me to do so, say­ing that I could use this po­si­tion to fa­cil­i­tate my ed­u­ca­tional and so­cial work. My con­sent was given with the spe­cific con­di­tion that I would not at­tend cab­i­net meet­ings. Later, af­ter that thor­ough gen­tle­man Mir Za­farul­lah Khan Ja­mali be­came prime min­is­ter, I did in fact at­tend a lim­ited num­ber of meet­ings at his spe­cific re­quest.

I was, at that time, quite wor­ried about the dis­mal state of ed­u­ca­tion in gen­eral, and specif­i­cally reli­gious schools, es­pe­cially in the tribal ar­eas. Be­ing keen to ad­dress the prob­lem, my com­pe­tent col­league, Mr Mo­hammed Fahim (a Grade 22 of­fi­cer from the min­istry of fi­nance and a for­mer Mem­ber Fi­nance at KRL) and my­self pre­pared a com­pre­hen­sive plan. I pre­pared a re­port in which I sug­gested I be put in charge of a pro­gramme for set­ting up schools where reli­gious and other sub­jects were to be taught.

Pre­lim­i­nary ed­u­ca­tion would be fol­lowed by three years of tech­ni­cal (vo­ca­tional) train­ing to arm students with the tech­ni­cal skills re­quired to earn a re­spectable liv­ing and to sup­port a fam­ily. Hos­tels were to be at­tached with these schools. This sys­tem would not only have made them use­ful mem­bers of so­ci­ety but also stopped them from be­ing used as can­non fod­der for ex­trem­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions.

I was con­vinced I could have put it into prac­tice in about three years. There were many re­tired of­fi­cers from KRL, good friends and other well-wish­ers who were will­ing to help with the task. At that time Pak­istan was re­ceiv­ing sub­stan­tial aid from the US, the UK, Ja­pan, China, Ger­many, France, Hol­land and the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries for lit­er­acy pro­grammes. The re­quire­ments for this pro­gramme could have eas­ily been met from those funds, but in­stead the funds landed in the pock­ets of the cor­rupt and then into for­eign ac­counts.

Had that project ma­te­ri­alised, I feel sure there would have been fewer ter­ror­ists, sui­cide bombers, tar­get killers, beg­gars, etc. Many of those who were chil­dren then, would have be­come re­spectable cit­i­zens by now.

Some of you might be aware that I was the project di­rec­tor of the G I K In­sti­tute in Swabi. I had done the de­sign­ing, plan­ning and su­per­vi­sion of the con­struc­tion of the whole com­plex, and ar­ranged for the in­take of for­eign aca­demic staff. Within two years it was listed as one of the top ten best In­sti­tutes in Asia.

I have also been closely in­volved in the build­ing and set­ting up of a Tech­ni­cal In­sti­tute at Mian­wali in 2000, where 1,500 students are now en­rolled for DAE de­grees in var­i­ous sub­jects. The set­ting up of a state- of- the- art In­sti­tute of Biotech­nol­ogy and Ge­netic Engi­neer­ing was also un­der my su­per­vi­sion. This In­sti­tute was later do­nated to the Univer­sity of Karachi and students work there for MPhil and PhD de­grees.

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