As the new school year begins, education becomes a concern for all of us, if not directly then indirectly. I had planned write about the education sector today, especially aspects concerning private and government schools. But since other important events took place, I will only be able to write a bit about it at the end of the article, but I will continue next week.

First, I would like to congratulate all Pakistanis and friends of Pakistan, on the 72nd Independence Day yesterday, and Kashmir Solidarity Day. I would also like to express happiness about the peaceful way that Eid-ul-Azha was celebrated.

In Norway, my home country, there was a sad violent attack on the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Bærum outside Oslo at Zuhr prayer time the day before Eid. One person was injured when a young ethnic Norwegian, Philip Manshaus (21), opened fire. However, he was overpowered by Mohamed Rafiq (65), a retired serviceman from Pakistan Air Force, who attended the prayer. Abid Raja, who is member of the Norwegian Parliament, and other Norwegians including the police have praised Mohamed Rafiq for his courage and resolute response, avoiding the violent attack resulting in deaths and injuries.

Sadly, the perpetrator shot and killed his stepsister, Johanna Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen (17) at their home, before he went to the mosque armed with two hunting guns. It is likely that Johanna, adopted from China as a baby, tried to stop her brother from leaving the house, or that he suspected she would call the police.

The perpetrator had become radicalised in the recent year or two, having expressed Nazi sympathies on social media and praising the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand. Earlier, it is said that he was an ordinary teenager; teachers at the private ‘Rudolf Steiner School’, where he did his upper secondary education, say he did well at school and was a friendly and polite young man. However, at last year’s folk high school course he attended at Fosen in Mid-Norway, fellow students at the boarding school become worried about his more and more extreme opinions, which included being anti-gender equality, anti-immigration and against the mixing of races. His interest in Bible studies went beyond what was considered healthy. We will in the course of the further police investigation learn more about what it was that led an ordinary and intelligent young man, from well-to-do backgrounds in a good semi-urban residential area outside Norway’s capital, to commit the crimes he is charged with.

The tragic case raises questions about why the community and the police, also having been alerted earlier, did not take seriously enough the signs of the young man drifting into unhealthy extremism and possibly mental illness. It raises questions about the roles of the schools he attended. It raises broader questions about how good Western communities, especially wealthy neighbourhoods, actually are for youth to grow up in, and how loners can drift into their own unreal worlds without being noticed. It is also sad that the young man’s divorced parents are said not to have spoken to their son after the event.

The other serious topic I would like to discuss in my article today is the recent events in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), which now has been annexed by India, similar to the way Crimea was annexed by Russia a few years ago. The international community, especially the West, has voiced strong opposition to that; a similar response would be expected to India’s annexation of Kashmir. Pakistan has already asked for an emergency meeting at the United Nations Security Council. Pakistan rightly dedicated its Independence Day yesterday to be Kashmir Solidarity Day.

Last winter, the former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, managed to travel inside IOK as one of very few foreigners. He helped place the Kashmir issue higher on the international agenda, especially the terrible prison and overall human rights situation. I am certain Bondevik will continue being engaged in the just struggle of the Kashmir people. Today, there is a Kashmir solidarity manifestation outside the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo – on the Indian Independence Day.

I am proud of other Norwegian countrymen’s engagement in the Kashmir issue, including Peace Professor Johan Galtung (91), who has visited Pakistan several times in recent years. In an email to me a few days ago, he said that prayers may be important to many, adding: “I believe in cooperative projects, in Western ability to learn sharing and closeness from Islam; and Islam to learn freedom and innovation from the West. Cooperative togetherness spells strong [in the] Occident, division spells civil war”.

And then a few words about the education sector in Pakistan, especially the dual system of private and government schools. I will only be able to write a bit about it today, instead continuing next week. Education is one of Pakistan’s most important sectors, and my field of expertise, too. Besides, considering the two above topics, the importance of education, indeed moral education, values and character building, must always be given emphasis, in homes, communities and schools. Let me stress that we must never give first priority to knowledge and skills, always to the moral foundation.

Next week, I shall discuss further issues related to private and government schools – and what good education really is. In Pakistan, few things are as important as getting every child enrolled, and given a rounded education to all, helping the next generation to become self-confident and optimistic. That is what they deserve, and that is the duty of us adults to give them – in the spirit of Eid-ul-Azha, Pakistan Independence Day, and Kashmir Solidarity Day.