Mr Prime Minister, Sir you uttered the words, only an educated nation can survive in a fiercely competitive world - therefore, development of the education sector is a government priority - in front of countless witnesses, made this observation during the 27th Medal and Prize Distribution Ceremony 2011 at the Prime Ministers Secretariat recently after handing out gold medals and cash awards to those students, who had gained top positions in the Annual Exams 2010 of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Islamabad. Yes Sir, you did and the press made much of the event during which you also proudly posed for group photographs with the students so honoured and who, if they keep abreast of the news, must surely be wondering if they can ever believe political speak again. Sir, your government has backtracked on the promised construction of approximately 1,000 primary schools in the strife-torn Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where education is the need of the hour. While it is true to say that the federal government made this blatantly erroneous about turn after the devolution of the Education Department to the provincial governments concerned, this is still no excuse for breaking a predated agreement as detailed in the 'Cash Programme for Establishment of One Thousand Primary Schools in the federal governments 'Public Sector Development Programme for the fiscal year 2009-2010. This essential primary school programme was also part of the 'Mid-Term Development Framework, as drawn up to improve access to education throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a province in which, thanks to a dire lack of educational facilities in the rural areas, militancy continues to spread like wildfire. Discarding federal government promises like so much used tissue paper at the drop of a hat has also rebounded on the, for once innocent, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial government, which is now left with a huge helping of egg on its face as ministers had repeatedly assured the people that these schools would materialise and the people themselves, also for once and for a change, believed them and now.absolutely zilch as the provincial government does not have the financial wherewithal to go it alone. Primary schools have never been in excess throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and their comparatively small numbers were badly decreased in the massive earthquake of October 2005, by last years flooding in the region and, for a number of years now, by raving militants burning, bombing and otherwise demolishing any school, primary and otherwise, they could get their dirty, largely illiterate, hands on and it was in these very militant 'struck area that the building of new schools had been given priority in order, it was claimed, to reduce the number of potential next generation militants by offering them education as a way out of the morass of poverty and ignorance in which they continually struggle to survive. These 'peace saving schools were to have been constructed in Swat, Buner, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Bannu, Charsadda, Dera Ismail Khan, Karak, Kohat, Battagram, Mansehra, Hangu and Shangla to name but a few of the places which have become household names due to militant active and would surely have lessened the number of students being forced to into madrassah education for lack of an alternative option. Now, however, with empty governmental promises ringing in their ears, the people, betrayed as usual, are highly unlikely to pay the slightest attention to whatever it is any government official even thinks of promising them next and the next generation, along with the ones to follow, will, if they listen to their elders as is both their inclination and their wont, also take governmental proclamations with the proverbial pinch of salt and continue, instead, to 'soldier on as they best they can in their own forthright way. One has to wonder if this seemingly 'selective educational let down could be because the federal government fears a renewal of militant activities throughout the length and breadth of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and is fearful of throwing good money after bad, or if it is apprehensive of a future minus the battalions of illiterate Pathan chawkidars, drivers, cooks and other general labourers on which so much of the country actively depends and without which so many households, especially those of the so-called 'elite, would grind to a halt. Whatever the reason for this despicable and short-sighted refusal to honour an agreement it is, when all factors are given their due consideration, a completely ridiculous way of trying, as the government so often and so publicly claims, to stem militancy on the one hand, while giving the people most affected by this plague and whose children are liable to be exposed to, even swept up in, future militant recruitment drives, such a vicious slap in the face; a face they could now turn in the 'wrong direction and, when the chips are down.who could blame them? The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Womans War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban. Email: