Addressing a prize distribution ceremony, for position holders of Matric and Intermediate students, the Chief Minister of Punjab told the audience that “Terrorism, insurgency and extremism can only be defeated through education”, while their real commitment with education can well be seen with allocation of funds in respective budgets. One wonders if that was some kind of black humour, given the budget that his brother’s government has just announced. Despite the fact that education, since the 18th Amendment has been made a provincial subject, in itself a questionable decision, even the federal contribution to education is dismal as the budget for the Higher Education Commission shows clearly.

How does this government intend to achieve its high-flying goals? While Shahbaz Sharif might be able to and be willing to do more, we will have to see this. Provinces like KPK, Sindh and Baluchistan will probably even outdo the federal government in neglecting education. When will we understand that education needs a sustained attention and investment, well above 4.5 % of GDP over decades! But the ruling feudal lords in Punjab and the then Education Minister are on record, having said that we cannot afford the luxury of education and that mind set is prevailing till now. Look at countries like Malaysia, where education was made a priority over the years and with what good results, when educationists were chosen to lead the nation!

Pakistan is trying to cut corners, but this is fatally wrong and given the rightly stated connection between education and extremism there is hardly any hope for the future. We have to undo this curse of status-quo, laden on our backs by our autocratic rulers or perish.

ALI ASHRAF KHAN,

Karachi, June 15.