What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

And now even the Financial Times started posting on madaras

A totally-out-of-context quote to start with (plus let me insert here the due hattip to the founder of the genre Afghanistanica):
“Just look at it from their perspective – if we just talk about girls’ education, for example, it just plays into the propaganda about the US. They think that the Americans will be opening up strip joints and restaurants selling alcohol on every corner.”
John Kael Weston, U.S. State Department POLAD in Khost, on why it's a good idea to build madaras for Afghanistan, telling that to the Financial Times.
Well, I'd say that could be about exaggerating this a little, but I've outlined some other reasons in the past days, connected to the way the madrasa system works in Pakistan and the implications of that, why it could indeed be a good idea to build madaras in Afghanistan. Scroll down for those posts if you feel like that.
But anyway, reading of the fear, attributed here to Afghans, of being lectured on morality by the West and what memory it could bring up in them, I was reminded of one of Afghanistanica's earliest posts here, reflecting on real and perceived effects from those of the Hippie Trail to by nowadays those of the Great Porn DVD Trail. Weston probably does hit a chord there, but building madaras is important rather in order not have young Afghans end up in some madrasa, say, in Bajaur Agency, to be infected by a siege mentality of Deobandi or other origin, and be constantly reminded of exactly those real and perceived Western influences. By the way, it's no secondary issue to make sure that the same thing then doesn't happen in the very madaras that are now being built or planned in Afghanistan.
Anyways, the most relevant part of the Financial Times article that quoted Weston, for further justification for my having zeroed in on madaras in the last couple of days:

" The US military is funding the construction of Islamic schools, or madrassas, in the east of Afghanistan in an attempt to stem the tide of young people going to radical religious schools in Pakistan.

Such schools spawned the Taliban movement, which harboured Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader behind the September 11 terror attacks on the US, before it was swept from power in 2001.

Commander David Adams, head of the US provincial reconstruction team in Khost, the province on the border with Pakistan, said more were planned.

“We would like to see small religious schools in every district so that parents don’t have to send their children over the border [to Pakistan],” he told the Financial Times. "

Wow. I'm tired. But tomorrow I'll write some more.

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