By Gulrukh Tausif
Recently, I was in a conversation with a friend of mine who is settled in US. Our conversation turned to education and she was full of criticism for Pakistan’s education system, its curriculum and teachers. Though I listened to her diatribe patiently, I could not help feel sad about her prejudice. Both she and her husband have prestigious jobs in US but they both completed their education from Pakistan before going abroad. The strength of any building lies in its foundation and no matter how much a person progresses; I feel the initial schooling lays the foundation of any successful career.
I know that education sector in Pakistan faces a host of problems. This sector, like any other public sector, has been woefully ignored in the past and we are reaping the bitter harvest of this criminal negligence. Problems of access to educational institutes, quality of education being imparted in schools, lack of proper teachers, teacher and student absenteeism, lack of basic infrastructure, political interference, poor examination system and inequality of opportunity remain endemic. But in spite of these problems, our children have always made a name for themselves whenever given an opportunity on national and international level.
But the problem here is not of what is lacking in our education system. It is of our mindset. When we criticize Pakistan, we forget that WE ARE Pakistan. Each one of us makes up this beautiful country. Pakistan is not dishonest or intolerant or dirty or corrupt. We are, when we shun honesty, tolerance, cleanliness and ethics. Pakistan does not display political acrimony, provincial disharmony or religious bigotry. We do, when we spew hatred and prejudice on TV, social media and during our private conversations against each other on the basis of religious beliefs and political and provincial affiliations.
How many times do we say, “There is no security here”, “Children do not have a future here”, or “Every system in Pakistan is rotten to its core.” Yes, we face lots of problems but aren’t we ones who have to correct our own values and ethics?
Any Pakistani who goes abroad instantly becomes a model of civic sense as soon as he sets foot on foreign soil but most disregard all laws and regulations on their native soil with impunity. And how many of us are willing to give up the “greener pastures” and comforts of foreign countries to come back and dedicate our skills, talents and life for the sake of this country?
How easily do we extricate ourselves from the whole when we wish to criticize Pakistan and prove that other countries are models of perfection? But what makes these countries “great”? Is it the mountains or the rivers, the trees or the plains or the very air? If that is the case, then aren’t we blessed with greenest of plains, the highest of mountains, the most spectacular deserts and rivers and ports? But if it is the people who make a country great then we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and see what we lack instead of criticizing Pakistan on every forum.
We are the drops that make this ocean, the words that tell the story, the threads that weave this cloth. Pakistan was always great. Let’s make ourselves worthy of this great country. After all in words of this beautiful milli naghma:
Main Bhi Pakistan Hoon, Tu bhi Pakistan hai.
Tu to meri jaan hai, tu to meri aan hai, tu mera iman hai
Kehti hai yeh raah-e-amal, aao hum sab sath chalain.
Mushkil ho ya aasani, hath mein dalay hath chalain.