Nov 11, 2009

International Islamic University of Islamabad.

Pakistan's Angry Students: An Ominous Sign For The Ruling Elite

[Click to enlarge]

Ahmed Quraishi

Two days ago I spent an entire day at the International Islamic University. No, it is not a madrassah but a modern institution spread over 700 acres in the heart of the Pakistani capital. When I entered the campus with our team from Geo's Aag TV to tape a special episode with its students, I never expected what I found.

Close to 20,000 students live and study here, Pakistani and foreign. A cosmopolitan environment exists, where bearded male students rub shoulders with others wearing jeans, sporting cool haircuts and listening to their ipods. The female campus reflects the diversity of the Pakistani society. Girls in western dresses mingling with friends veiled in black chadors or simple hijab.

Two weeks ago, two suicide attackers came to this place and blew up several students to pieces.

Four days later, hundreds of students defied security warnings and gathered in the campus for a rally against the terrorists and against the destabilizing American presence in neighboring Afghanistan. [continued below]



Who returns to a site of terror attack? Not in Pakistan anyone does. No Pakistani politician of weight did something like this after scores of terrorist acts in Pakistan.

In fact, there are four heavyweight Pakistani politicians elected from the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, belonging to the ruling PPP and Mr. Nawaz Sharif's PMLN – Mr. Nayyar Bokhari, Mr. Hanif Abbasi, Mr. Sheikh Rashid, and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan – but not one of them cared to join the students in their hour of grief.

What to talk of Pakistani politicians and the ruling elite. The other day, 117 Pakistanis were killed in a single day in Peshawar, mostly the poorest of the poor, and our ruling elite was busy on that evening exchanging smiles with Mrs. Hillary Clinton over dinner. [15 Americans were killed in America in a military base and their President lowered the national flag for 3 days in mourning.]

The Pakistani media, although well meaning, did not fare any better. Every talk show was busy in the usual bickering and backbiting that mars Pakistan's useless and unproductive politics.

But the people in our team did care. We went to meet the students. And they are angry. And they are not mincing words. The show we taped will be aired on Geo's Aag TV on Sunday, Nov. 7, 8-9 pm PST.

The time is running out for the Pakistan's failed ruling elite, the ones in government and the ones who remain in power one way or the other no matter what government in place.

Pakistan is looking ahead at difficult times if the anger, frustration and disenchantment among the young Pakistanis, who are in majority in this nation, boils over. And that point is not very far.

Here I share with you three pictures I took with my cell phone. They show how our students reacted to the tragedy. That's much more than anything our government and politicians did to mourn their children who died in the heart of the Pakistani capital, a few minutes' drive away from the seats of political power.

The Insider

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