IN OTHER WORDS: Wake-up call

To educate or not to educate - girls in particular - seems to be the question the Taliban are agonising over. On Thursday it was reported by a section of the media that militants in Swat have announced a total ban on female education in the district from Jan 15. Such a move, if it is actually implemented, would keep an estimated 40,000 girls out of school. But a day later the leadership of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan sought to distance itself from the ban that smacked of anti-social obscurantism.

All’s well that ends well, it is said. But can we be certain girls’ schools will not be bombed? Even when no formal ban had been announced, the Taliban proceeded to bomb girls’ educational institutions as a matter of routine. Although strategically speaking, bombing girls’ schools may not create such a critical impact on the course of the war, it certainly has profound implications in terms of the political and social message it sends.

Since the education of girls poses a threat to the ideological beliefs of the Taliban they want to resist it. This should also come as a wake-up call to the policymakers in Pakistan. The emergence of the Taliban reflects, amongst others, our failure to make education accessible to all and inculcate tolerance, compassion and humanism in the population.