The recent decision of the Government enhancing security of educational institutions at no cost to the government brings testifies to government failure and its abdication of responsibility to protect life and property of the citizen. In its zeal to win the battle the government has alreadthe war. Y lost the war and played into the hands of the enemy. The Taliban decision to target secular schools is not a new one but the government diktat to enhance security of these schools at their own cost makes it impossible for many schools including government schools to operate and there is no back up plan to accommodate the students in the new security proof schools that the government would establish after the present vulnerable ones are closed down. Ironically the sword of Damocles hangs over the principals and head teaches rather than owners and administrative heads holding the purse. These principals and head teachers may well resign rather than embroil themselves in costly and cumbersome litigation for no fault of their own.
It appears that the government is on a suicidal course perhaps taking a leaf out of Taliban strategy. Taliban suicide attack may have damaged few schools but the recent government decision has the potential to demolish the entire system. With friends like these we do not need enemies. What the Taliban wanted has been handed over to them on a silver platter and in a big way. For us Chitralis instead of rewarding us for maintaining peace in these troubled times we have been punished forcing us to feel scared and develop symptoms of psychological disorder and economic helplessness to sustain our education institutions that we had built up on self-help basis to make up for the government inadequacy. Young students have already felt the pinch and become curious as to why gun wielding uniformed men are manning their gates. Thus unwittingly they are being introduced to gun culture with possibility to try to use them. The proponent of this strategy should explain the logic behind appointing four security guards in a school which has one or two teachers to educate the students. Parents would have been happy to guard these schools around the clock if the government had instead appointed two more teachers rather than security guards to improve the quality of education in these schools.
One can wonder if the government is hand in glove with terrorists or suffers from mental bankruptcy? How are we going to win this long drawn out war with this mindset? We all know that Taliban are the enemy of modern education. They cannot tolerate any education system except their own brand. It is here that our war should have begun and ended. What the government is doing is just the opposite. It is not laying hands on jehadi madrassas but instead targeting those very schools that the Taliban want to hit. Government strategy simply helps the Taliban cause. The people of Pakistan know that there is no quick fix to defeat terrorism which has become a big business and complex one too. They are prepared for a long drawn war not just winning a battle. Then how come their elected government can cave in before the terrorists. We do not want victory at the cost of our sanity. We know that the worst thing to fear is fear itself and that is what the government is creating. We do not want to live in constant fear. We want to take into the war with stride and normality. We know Italian Red Brigade took a century to defeat but Italians did not panic. On the one hand the government invites investment but on the other hand raises the cost of security by projecting a very insecure Pakistan to its citizens and foreigners. There are more insecure areas in the world but they are not so panicky as we are. If at all the government is in possession of information that the people do not know then at least it should be discrete in its action rather than panicky.
Government functionaries who are in their right mind should prevail over those who have stake in panic and revisit the strategy. It is an open secret that like terror, anti-terror is also a big business and it has been supporting the world’s largest economy. Since the announcement of enhanced security protocol, prices of security gadgets have registered 100 % rise. No school can afford not to shift the burden on to parents as the impact runs into millions besides the recurring cost of security staff. The government could at least have kept the gadget prices in check except perhaps had it not been for its collusion or incompetence. It is unfortunate that even our collective decision making forums cannot rise to the level of statesmanship and wisdom to project an inclusive long term vision for the country to fight terrorism in the right way. At least exceptions should have been made for peaceful areas like Chitral where well knit community feeling is a formidable bulwark against mischief. We feel let down by our elected representatives. Community based schools charging affordable fee are hard pressed to maintain their comfort level for their client communities. A very volatile situation has been created. Let us hope sanity will prevail and another situation is not created in the education sector as the government has quite a few on its plate already.