For a country which lost over 50,000 lives at the hand of terrorism and have been fighting against terrorism for over a decade, it has left such a strong impact on the minds of the people that it would take decades for the young generations of this nation to forget it. However, it would have been easier if we only wanted to forget it. We have had the impact so deep that forgetting alone is not the answer; we have to defy it, change it and have a strong counter narrative that helps our future generations to overcome these fears.
Education is a critical need in the development of a civilized society. For a country like Pakistan, where there has been so much polarization and damage caused by terrorist outfits, it is only education that could salvage our generation out of this quagmire to peace and prosperity. While our uneducated youth remains deeply vulnerable, the existing educated lot falls into three distinct categories — due to the lack of a uniform education system — in Pakistan. These three categories are:
- The ultra modernists;
- The mediocre – The bulk;
- Madrassa students with rigid ideas and concepts.
All three groups remain in their own particular social spheres, which results in isolation and a growing gap between them all. This phenomenon is likely to result in an uncertain future for our youth as they remain alien to each other hence having slim chances of any positive interaction in future.
The youth of any nation possesses the tremendous potential, and Pakistan is no exception. With 60% youth if reformative measures were taken in the past, the wheels of change would have started rolling and a paradigm difference created. Despite this phenomenal shortfall, Pakistan’s youth has demonstrated excellence in multiple fields of sciences, arts, technology and creativity. If a stimulating and enabling environment is provided to them, their enthusiasm, activity, and curiosity will result in shaping a peaceful, progressive, and prosperous Pakistan. Keeping their performance under the prevalent non-conducive environment in mind, it is fair to assume that they can bring great laurels with enabling learning environment that affords them platforms and chances for more exposure, application, and indulgence in social, economic, and developmental processes of all kinds. On the contrary, this asset can turn into liability; a scenario which Pakistan can simply not afford this juncture of our existence.
Helen Keller once said, “The highest result of education is Tolerance”. For a nation, that is countering problems like polarization, extremism and terrorism, the only solution there can be is Tolerance. The tolerance in our younger generation will help them bridge the gap between people who do not share their ideology – live and let others live. Before one accepts or rejects an idea, there is a need to listen to it with patience and prudence. This is what we need to induce through our education system, the art of being tolerant and to be able to listen to the voices that have been unheard for a long time and answer them with patience and logic.