Reading Pakistan Reports with a Skeptical Eye

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 - 5:05 am

Reading Pakistan Reports with a Skeptical Eye

As I read this report by Sabrina Tavernies in The New York Times this weekend, I found myself wondering how Douglas Johnston might read this. What am I missing? What is the reporter not telling me about madrasas that leads to a greater understanding on my, the reader’s, part? What are the routines and teaching taking place in the madrasas. How do those teachings differ from Islamic school to Islamic school? If the Qur’an is the sole text, how is it used: purely for theological training? as a foundational text for reading and writing? as a tool for propaganda? as a source of philosophical discourse?
I ask because I fear I’m not literate enough about understanding the complexity of these issues and Pakistani society in general. So when I read sentences like this, “Suicide bombings were neither encouraged nor condemned,” my internal alarm bells start ringing, which makes me slightly suspicious of other interesting points made in the report.
To me, the article touches on a significant point — Pakistan’s inability to create a quality public school system. I’d like to read more than a few sentences about this. Perhaps another time.
Am I being overly analytical and parsing too much?

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