Muhammad Ahmed TajammulWhen the helpless cries for mercy echo through the weary walls of a public school in Mansehra, when Haider Ali’s bruised body and broken arm portray a story of brutality, when Behram Khan’s wounded face questions the reason for his condition, when Waseem is thrashed by his teacher for petty, incomprehensible reasons, the question rises that, is accidentally breaking a flower pot an offence so serious to be treated this way? Does a student speaking in the middle of a lecture need his head to be smashed on a table to be set right? Is not turning up for school due to high grade fever a mistake so heinous to justify this brutality? No!A school, is a sacred place, a place where a child is fostered, a place where he is groomed, where his personality is polished to make him a responsible citizen of this country, where he learns how to read, write, understand how this world works, how he must fulfill his responsibilities, and demand his rights, a place where he learns how to live in society.Children are the future of this nation. It is the children of this nation who will determine where Pakistan will stand as a country tomorrow, and from a crossroad on which we stand today, which direction we will take tomorrow, the direction of prosperity, or that of destruction, of well-being, or of ill-being, the direction of technological advancement, or of regress, of economic stability, or of financial crises, of guaranteed fundamental human rights, or of violations to the very sanctity of life; of peace or of disharmony.Dorothy Law Nolte writes:If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn if a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight if a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive if child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself if a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shyIf that very school becomes a place where a child is despised, where he is treated with hate and cruelty, where he is deliberately inflicted pain as retribution for an offence, where he is tortured for the so called purpose of disciplining, reforming, or deterring attitudes or behaviors deemed unacceptable, that child will not learn to become patient, rather he will learn to become aggressive, not confident, but shy; not appreciative, but belittling; not just, but ignorant; not friendly but offensive, neither loving nor caring, but cruel. If Pakistan is to prosper in this world, if it is to attain social, economic, and political stability and advancement, there needs to be an end to this social malaise, so that the children of Pakistan take up the initiative of learning and spreading knowledge with ever-increased vigor and enthusiasm, for:“If it were not for reading, what would be Pakistan’s meaning?”This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 18-Apr-2014 here.