By Dawood Shah
With tears in her eyes, she said “My brother was quite influenced by one of his friends who was working for a Jihadi organization. He expressed his desire to go for Jihad and when my mother tried to tell him that Qital is not necessarily Jihad, he said I have read about it in my book- in Soora Toba, “Jihad is compulsory for Muslims”. My brother was brainwashed completely and we didn’t have any power to change his mind. He regularly went to Jihadi training and to Tableegh. With time, his tendency for Jihad increased, he regularly went to different places for Jihad with the Jihadi organizations, in 2008 while he was in Muzzarafad with his team he died in the 8th October Earthquake. We lost our brother to the brainwashing of these organizations”
The girl who shared the story was a practicing Muslim and loved her religion but she was able to differentiate between religion as a personal matter and religion used for manipulating people to achieve other objectives. This girl had clarity in her vision, she knew it very well that you can be a practicing Muslim and against the Jihad Organizations and deployment of youth in these organizations.
It’s just one case, there are many youths out there who have become vulnerable to manipulation by the militant organizations after getting exposed to curriculum and propaganda, which promotes Qital as Jihad. The new changes in curriculum will revert the previous changes made to the curriculum by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in 2010. Khadim Hussain (Managing Director of Bacha Khan Education Foundation and Trust) explains that the changes made in curricula in the 1980s aimed to promote a generalized concept of Qital as Jihad, to marginalize minorities, and to motivate youth for idealizing war heroes, youth were disconnected from their original history as well as the current research. In 2010 previous government made changes in curricula aimed to educate young people about the difference of Jihad and Qital, to create a link of youth with their original history, to include heroes from other walks of life as well, and to educate youth about equality.
Now that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to revert the changes in the school curricula made in 2010, again young people of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province will be manipulated and made vulnerable for recruitment in the militant organizations; a step towards increasing militancy in the province. Youth getting educated with this curricula will either become vulnerable to the direct recruitments of the militant organizations or will become their passive supporters thus not standing against the increasing extremism and militancy in the province making it very easy for them to operate without meeting any civilian resistance. The curriculum of war and Qital will increase intolerance and hostility towards the religious minorities and women, and space for progressive voices will diminish systematically.
We have to answer the question, where the youth motivated for Jihad/Qital will feed in, how they will make Qital/Jihad relevant to their life? They will either go for Jihad to countries which are considered rivals of Pakistan and the Muslims world or to other Muslim majority countries, or they will start Jihad in their own country against their own people. Every city and village of the province will become the Swat of Taliban. Those who will suffer the most will not be the one who is making these changes to the curricula but the most unprivileged. We are moving fast towards “self-destruction complex”.
It is a key time for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to wisely analyze the changes to be made in the curriculum, it impacts on their children, to realize that religion is not limited to jihad and Jihad is not limited to Qital. Asking for a better and tolerant education system does not make you anti-Islam, it makes you a more peaceful person who cares for the world. Its time to advocate for an education system which enables their children to be better human beings with higher self-esteem, who have a connection with their real history and who are proud of their cultural legacy. Children of Pashtuns, should no more be used as fodder in wars fought in the name religion, let’s save our children before it’s too late.