Climates of the Muslim World

I have nothing against military dictatorships if they happen to be installed in one of the most unstable and fragile flashpoint countries in the world such as Pakistan. During his tenure as President of Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf has done and said the right things. He has been very critical of the extremist elements in Pakistani society and seems intent on seeing a modern and tolerant Pakistan take root. He is fighting an uphill battle against the MMA, while he tackles education reform, closes madrassas, and tries to reign in boombastic imams. He has had to deal with secretarian violence and has survived two assassination attempts on his life. Today in Karachi, a car bomb exploded killing one person and injuring 25. While at the same time, a march in Peshawar was organised against the barbaric practice of “honor killings”

Pakistan is a nation of contradictions. Its stock market has out performed most exchanges this year. In cities like Lahore and Karachi, globalisation has arrived and one is hard pressed to find much difference between teenagers in these cities and in other large urban areas around the world. While at the same time, there is a horrible undercurrent that is quickly infecting Pakistani society. Musharraf, while still saying the right things especially about Islam and its place in Pakistan, peace with India, human rights, and issuing numerous calls against Islamic extremism, has also had to make comprimises to the MMA in order to hold on to power. Thus, movement on women’s rights and education reform has slowed down as Musharraf struggles keep his government afloat.

Education and curriculum reform is one of the biggest issues facing Pakistan. Its young are not trained with the necessary skills to grow the country’s economy, nor are they competitive in global markets. Madrassas, offering lodging, food, and brainwashing, but little else are popular with rural, poor families as a means of feeding their children. A friend of mine working on education reform in Pakistan told me that in the compulsory Islamic Studies course in Pakistani high schools, there is a unit entitled “Climates of the Muslim World”. It is hard to believe that a country that sits on a nuclear arsenal is slipping into extremism and is churning out Muslim weathermen by the thousands.