Deadly education

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  • Two tragic examples of uncurbed extremist trends

They were seemingly a couple of isolated incidents occurring widely apart in Karachi and Khyber-Paktunkwa educational institutes, but were actually the natural corollary of an underlying malaise in our society: bigotry, intolerance and sadistic violence. There was, too, a method in the madness of the two murderers, in the case of the second year college student of a Charsadda private college who shot dead his principal and took refuge under the blasphemy umbrella, and the crazed cleric who in a fit of savagery, beat his errant eight year old madrassa student to death (despite prohibition of corporal punishment in Sindh by legislation passed in February 2017), perhaps in the hope of being forgiven by powerless poverty-stricken parents. The obsolete Victorian-era saying, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ was taken too literally by this tyrant, who might still go scot-free due to the Qisas and Diyat law. These two are now well-traversed paths of cold-blooded murderers, even when settling personal vendettas, or for killing in a fit of fury over some false rumours, imagined slight or injured ego.

The college student was incensed that the principal, himself a Masters in Islamic Studies and a Hafiz-e-Quran, scolded and turned him out of the classroom for unauthorised absence, and participating instead in the Faizabad sit-in of a religious party. As is usual in such cases, he reportedly remained defiant, showing no signs of remorse or repentance for taking his teachers’ life in this heartless manner. This is the frightening part, the elated feeling of still being on the right side of religion, despite taking a fellow human being’s life, and if it comes to court, possibly of the law, and that colleges and universities should have turned into breeding swamps of extremist tendencies. The police have registered FIRs in both cases, which should be pursued to their logical ends, irrespective of external pressures. The positive aspect is that the Charsadda colleges’ faculty, students and local people staged protests, demanding maximum punishment, while the Karachi police remanded the killer cleric despite the deceased child’s parents exonerating him. Pakistan is already under the nervous shadow of a UN Human Rights Watch List.