September 21st is celebrated each year as International Day of Peace. The theme of the current year peace day is “Education for Peace”. Both peace and education are important and interconnected, education for peace viz-a-viz peace for education. In conflict zones the condition of education is very poor, children work as soldiers or supporting the armed groups and militias or act as a moving bomb. There are also growing trends of attacks on education globally, and increasing day by day.
This article will try to discuss the wide spread issues of peace and real education, globally and locally. Frankly speaking our education system is unable to highlight these issues; similarly our society is not considering seriously both Peace and Education. When talking about peace, it’s related to an individual, it’s related to a family, a village, a province, country and also worldwide, it has affected on each other’s and inter connected. It has strong relations with the justice system, the governance, politics, economy, social, psychological, unjustified division of resources and greed for the resources.
Peace education is not only the need of the children, but more important for the adults as well. By educating both children and adults, they will play their due role in bringing peace. Now the matter is, to educate on what? There are many issues to educate on, and help them to practice these, like what is peace, harmony, freedom of expression, gender, justice, equality, equity, communication, rights, tolerance, non-violence, mutual respect, democracy, promote diversity and pluralism. More importantly, to educate people on the unbiased history and allow them to question anything, the additional need for the adult’s peace education is to know the political economy, imperialism and belief on people’s struggle, belief on processes and avoiding shortcuts etc.
From the last couple of decades the peace situation is deteriorating day by day specially in Pakistan and in the region it is situated. Most of us are badly affected from this situation. Pakistan has sacrificed the lives of more than 60 thousand people in this ongoing so-called “war on terror” in this decade. According to the Global Peace Index (GPI) 2013 report, Pakistan is ranked on 157 out of 162 countries on the list. Still there is a debate, and we continuously hear to conduct peace dialogues, disengagement from the war on terror; this is not our war and so on. The recent targeted attack on the high level military officials on the Pak Afghan border area has proved that this is a very complex situation and needs unbiased analysis and decision making. The involvement of the global and regional imperial powers in this war has extremely divided our Pakistani society, bureaucracy, media, military and political parties into two camps, one is pro-Taliban and other is against. Both have their own arguments. The common man is very confused on this issue. The suicide bombers and Taliban are killing people on the name of Islam and loudly shouting Allah O Akbar ‘Allah is great’ while attacking, and the victims and forces are also accepting that they are sacrificing for their religion and Allah is great. Both claim, their martyrdom. Such division is not only here in the case of Pakistan. It is happening in the whole region. The so-called Arab spring has explained the imperialist designs for the world and particularly for this region. There is another replica of the Afghan Jihad, where jihadist and private militias have been engaged by these regional and global imperial powers, equipped and sponsored by the petro dollars for the ‘regime change’. All this is also similar to the Barnard Lewis’s maps on the Middle East to break the countries on the ethnic and sectarian basis like creating Kurdistan and Baluchistan, expanding Israel, Shiites, Sunnis division of Iraq, Syria, Iran, which are rich in energy resources.
The global arms trade and militarization also needs unbiased analysis. Interestingly most of the arms trade is in hands of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Between the years 2004 and 2011 according to the US Congressional Research Services Report, during this period, United States sold arms of 220.6 billion dollars, Russian 83.3 billion dollar, France 41.96 billion dollars, UK 27 billion dollars, China 17 billion dollar and Germany 22 billion dollars. In year 2004 the arms sale agreements were made for 51 billion dollars, which increased to 85.27 billion dollar per year in 2011. On other hand most of the developing countries are purchasing the arms from these developed countries. Between year 2004 to 2011 Saudi Arabia made agreements for buying arms worth of 75.5 billion dollars, India 46.6 billion dollars, UAE 20.3 billion dollars, Egypt 14.3 billion dollars and Pakistan 13.2 billion dollars. Such increasing militarization of this region is very much dangerous especially for the two neighboring nuclear powers, Pakistan and India. Similarly, in the first instance, it is difficult to understand the Saudi Arabia and UAE involvement in arms race. Saudi Arabian monarchy is indicating to become a regional imperial power.
The European Parliament in its recent report on the tile “Involvement of Salfism/ Wahabism in the support and supply of arms rebel groups around the world” has given a historic commentary focusing on Afghanistan Jihad being a breeding space for exporting the Salfi/ Wahabi ideology and its involvement from Indonesia to Morocco and Philippine to Mali. Report has detailed the Saudi and Qatari involvement in flourishing these petro dollar sponsored movements. Pakistan is also being one of the primary victims of this entire outbreak. There are millions of petro dollars invested in Pakistan in the shape of promoting religious seminaries/ maddaris and construction of mosques. Now Saudi government has announced that the Imams of the two holy mosques in the Kingdom will visit Pakistan twice a year for strengthening the links and relationships. Saudi’s and the other’s influence on Pakistani society are gradual and unfelt. Also our culture is badly affected by Arabian cultural invasion. Some of the simple indications are growing trends of children Arabic names, increase in madrassas specially for female, cell phone’s ‘Islamic’ ring tones and tunes, increased use in Arabic Burqa/Abaya and its imposition in schools, colleges and universities. Most recently the move of the government to incorporate the Jihad related verses and instructions in the state run school’s curriculum. The mushroom growth of jihadi organizations, its welfare and charity fronts are getting its roots strengthened in our society. They use the welfare and charity fronts for attracting local and expats philanthropy.
The purpose of giving the above detailed commentary is to explain the need of initiating a debate among the common masses, intellectuals and media personnel’s to discuss either, it’s our or someone else war?. Now it’s time to start educating our adults and decide how to counter this situation. During the past more than a decade, our state and its institutions are near to collapse.
We are facing energy crises; millions have lost jobs, poverty and foreign debts are increasing, we have increased influence of Britton Wood institutions, regional and imperial powers. We still have not eradicated the illiteracy, polio and measles. Still millions of children of the school going age are out of school. Our military spending is increasing each year. Our currency is devaluing day by day; millions of citizens live in IDPs camps due to conflicts and other natural disasters. Sadly above all our global peace index ranking decreases each year, but as nation we have not yet strategized how to counter all these.