Pakistan and the USA share the problem of terrorism, and Pakistan must increase its spending on education if it hopes to end it. This was said by Congressman Burgess during his address to Congress on Saturday. While the Congressman was right in pointing out both that Pakistan had a major problem in terrorism, and that it had a low level of spending on education, he was economical with the truth when it came to discussing why Pakistan suffered from such terrorism: the fact that Pakistan has been on the edge of a war for nearly a decade now. Longer, if one is to count the continuous tensions along the border on the eastern front since the country’s inception. The reason Pakistan spends a pittance on education and a gargantuan amount on defence, is that not just the Afghan border now, but the border with India, has been a constant source of concern. The common impression that Pakistan is “overestimating” the danger is what is even more worrying. Statements from India express no wish for peace, and it is a mystery as to why the international community ignores incendiary rhetoric from India and only rouses itself to shush Pakistan when it responds. Pakistan’s paranoia in terms of its security, is absolutely justified.
Meanwhile, terrorists from Afghanistan find easy crossings into Pakistan, unsupervised and unstopped by NATO forces, who are soon to withdraw and leave the border even more insecure, and the Afghan forces, who will soon be in the throes of controlling a likely civil war in the aftermath of NATO withdrawal. Pakistan’s army, spread thin on the east and the west, is a huge draw on state resources. And no attempt to scale back spending will find purchase unless the central issue of Kashmir is resolved, after which the region faces the best chance of security and stability. Pakistan is not a rich country. The congressman is right that we do need to spend more on education. The US can work with Pakistan to help find funding and economic programmes to achieve this. Much appreciated are organizations like DFID, which has done fine work, discreetly, and have helped in making an enormous difference in the quality of education now available through most of Punjab. The US will agree, that opportunities are needed for 180 million Pakistanis, who will only be pulled back from the brink of despair if they see possibilities of a better quality of life ahead.