Our world does not have a long history; if not in religious sense then at least in political and economic evolution. The Paleolithic phase (Old Stone Age) entered into Neolithic phase (New Stone Age) around 10, 000 B.C. The hunter gatherers started agriculture around 8000 B.C. and it was the yield of surplus grain that gave rise to trade between the tillers in the suburbs and the city dwellers who were mainly manufacturers of Bronze Age. This period being insignificant till 2100 B.C. once Hammurabi of Babylon introduced the earliest law code. There existed in these times the oldest civilizations like Mesopotamian (3500 B.C.), Egyptian (3000 B.C.) and Harrapan (2500 B.C.). The Greek City States and Iranian empire struggled around 700 B.C. to 300 B.C. The Roman Empire – replacing Roman Republic – was founded in 27 B.C. and perished in 476 A.D. The various religions like Confucianism, Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam emerged from 600 B.C. to 600 A.D. The known history from this moment onwards was dominated by the kings and monarch in all parts of the world and among followers of all religions. Then began the phase of colonialism from the 15th century and lasted (in physical domain) till 20th century. However, the critics are of the view that the colonialism continues till to-date in the form of neo-colonialism. In April 1492, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, after ending Muslims’ rule in Spain, despatched Christopher Columbus on a sea voyage that culminated on discovery of American continent. Only five years later, on 8 July 1497, Portuguese King Manuel sent Vasco da Gama – in command of four ships and 170 men – on a mission that took him to found India. The rest is history. In following centuries, Portugal, Spain, England, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy were able to colonize almost entire America, Africa and most part of the Asia. Those who got colonized were more in numbers, fought in their own lands, but were vanquished by usually a smaller minority from European peninsula.
Historian Niall Ferguson in his book “Civilization: The West and the Rest” has found six factors in this rise of the West. These are: 1) competition; 2) science; 3) property rights; 4) medicines; 5) the consumer society; and, 6) the work ethic (p.12). The West passed through various stages like Renaissance (13th century), Reformation (16th century), Enlightenment (late 18th century), and, Industrial Revolution (18th century). During all these phases, different phenomena were taking place, like: struggle for individual freedom, rise of a trading class, reducing the powers of monarchs and kings, secularization of politics, emergence of the nation-state etc. During this period, the French Revolution (1789) and American Revolution (1776) took place that ushered in the lasting notions of a responsible republic and a representative government. In 1776, Adam Smith wrote “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” that gave birth to capitalism. He prophesied that serving the individual interest would actually promote the collective interest through an 'invisible hand'. Karl Marx contrarily wrote “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848 and “Das Kapital” in 1867 that battled against unbridled forces of capitalism. John Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire wrote treatises that advocated for democracy and more republican form of the government. These were the formative years of the West when citizens learnt to live through the notions of democracy, work ethics and, of obligations and duties being citizen of a nation-state. Capitalism and the capitalists were soon to realize that the worker was also a consumer and his interests were to be protected. Therefore, wages raised, working conditions improved and the consumer was protected to a level that the interests of owners were not hurt. The inner debate and dialogue in the societies continued for the good of citizenry. The very people participated and evolved percepts of a better and powerful world that others could not resist and were colonized. The wars by the kings abhorred, and the national wars fought, eventually convinced the warrior nations to find peaceful norms of competition and survival. In nutshell, the kings were rejected by the society, freedom was won by the individual, economy and politics was transformed to a degree that the West achieved edge on other parts of the world. The occupation of vast colonial empires in far off lands is testimony to this superior edge over others.
Contrarily to the spirit of these times, a focus on the subcontinent and overall Muslim world would reveal a different trend and direction of societal movement till these were colonized by the West. These societies appear victim of a deadly status quo. These never yearned for a change: a change in the form of government from the kingdoms to the republic, the economy that aspires to expand under new rules than mere slouching at a subsistence level, a population agitating for more individual freedom than merely accepting the kings' rule as a fate accompli, an education system that is based on scientific critical enquiry and evidence than mere emulation and acceptance, and a culture that promotes work ethics, savings and investment than mere luxurious display of individual idiosyncrasies. Except territorial and hereditary wars, the history of these societies has left no trace of a worthwhile political or economic debate in these lost centuries. Emulation and repetition continued in the name of scholarship after 13th century. In 1500, there were more than 200 printing press in Germany alone, whereas in 1515, Turk king Sultan Salim 1 had issued a death sentence decree for anyone using the printing press. The male and female literacy rate in Paris by 1789 was 90 per cent and 80 per cent respectively when female literacy at mass level was hitherto an unknown concept in the Muslim world. They were colonized being inferior in knowledge and warfare in later centuries.
Then began the resistance and struggle phase for the independence of the colonial world. The colonial societies were familiarized only with history of kingships and their glorious wars. However, the colonial masters were in no mood to restore the old kingships and their empires. Meanwhile, a small segment from the colonial populace had also emerged that aspired for creation of new nation-states based on democratic form of the government. The World War I, World War II and the rise of America also influenced the course of history toward decolonization by the former masters. There emerged new nation-states that were still inhabited by a majority that was hardly prepared for the experiments of democracy, free market, individual freedom and rule of law. In absence of such essential institutions, the common attractions for the majority were family bondage, tribal lineage, ethnic and linguistic affinity, and sectarian factionalism. These colonies wavered betwteen authoritarian regimes to democratic governments in search of progress and development. However, till to-date former colonies stand far short of the desired goals and are mostly dependent on former masters. The old tribal mindset is often at display and not an exception. They have yet to learn that the authority is the law, or, the law is the authority. And, now these societies also face the ever growing challenges of Globalization.
The globalization phenomenon has been given impetus by introduction of new technologies and advent of the Information Age. The transportation and information means have virtually reduced all types of distances and barriers. The citizens of nation-states are no more restricted, shielded or blinded by the state frontiers rather they live in a world of 'mirror-image'. The societies and individual not only see each other but also compare. This certainly has given rise to expectation, demands and aspirations. The 'local' phenomenon still exists but there is also a rise of universalism in culture, media, food, dress, language, and awareness. The manifestation can be seen in evolution of global systems: political system is getting shaped around democracy, economic globalization around free market, global climate regimes, global nuclear non-proliferation, and global trade regimes etc. Now the questions arise: 1) Whether these former colonies are prepared to take part in this globalization process? 2) Have these societies passed through the formative periods when individual freedom and representative government is outcome of a societal evolution than mere imported but alien norms? 3) Will the 'mirror-image' of a globalized world put these former colonial societies in a long internal conflict till settling of political, economic and cultural contradictions? 4) Will these societies enter into a conflict mode with the former masters, or failing would lead to a frustrated response from few agitated individuals? The questions are numerous and the answers unpredictable. However, one thing is obvious that centuries lost during middle ages cannot be regained in few years by mere desires, dreams, agitation, or at worst, internal violence.
If the causes and reasons for the rise of one civilization are based on individual freedom, genuine representative and participatory governments, economic liberalization and decentralization, universal education, gender indiscrimination and rule of law, the other civilization would have to either find new paradigms for the progress and development, or, follow the suit. Till that destiny, they will have to live through the times with patience, work earnestly, and, maintain stability and internal cohesion. If there is only a hollow desire of self-rise in these former colonial societies, then nothing is a better choice than wait and pray for the others' fall as a process of change by the Nature that occurs in centuries and millennia.
“But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?”
Now if happiness is true harmony between a man and the life that he leads then I think we are all in serious trouble. If we are what we eat then I am a bag of popcorn with loads of butter combined with nihari, biryani and haleem. And if life is truly what we make of it, then good LORD, we are all stuck in a horrendous-never-ending-rut.
Everyday we go to work and follow pretty much the same routine; by work I don't just mean our nine-to-five jobs but the routine of being homemaker as well. Work seems to be never ending and one step forward often means two steps back. It is almost like being stuck in a hamster wheel on which you never keep running. Round and round and round you go! When does the constant rat race end we all tend to wonder?
There is the personal time we try to spend with close family and friends. Visiting the parents on Sundays at least plus the random get-together held at home or at a friend/family member's house. The dynamics, however, seem to always stay the same. Some days we get frustrated and chart out a whole new schedule of fun and excitement with others, and then it just happens, and things stay the same. Nothing is changed!
We don't think that routine it the key to success and emotional balance. At least this is what I've heard from most I've spoken to. Can we really equate routine with harmony and therefore happiness? I used to worry that have we all just fallen into a rut that we can't seem to get ourselves out of?
For years I kept looking for ways to make a huge difference in Pakistan or a big enough impact to be remembered or for my life to have 'real' meanings. Every day I would sit for hours between shoots, charity events or during my meals or at bedtime to figure out my so-called game plan for the life.
There were two fundamental problems with this. Firstly, life never quite turns out how we plan it and we therefore lose out on the important wonderful moments because we are so focused on what we don't have. Secondly, we lose focus of what we are currently doing and exhaust our energy on what we don't have. So our efforts become half-baked.
I have spent quite some time in Canada. My best friends there are always asking me, 'Why are you in Pakistan?' My reply is fairly simple: “It's important to me that I try in my own way to make a difference and I know in my heart that I have tried and will continue to try. I believe that this country is beautiful and holds immense promise and opportunities for me and for my son, Hamza. Pakistan's wonderful value system and our culture is fantastic. Nobody is saying that it is perfect but it is certainly worth fighting for and maintaining.”
We perpetually focus on the bad, like honour killings and terrorism but we forget the beauty of our poetry, our stories, our architecture, and our culture. I understand that the electricity, water and natural gas issues are enough to drive anyone nuts. But lets look at it this way: what if you're a child, or your parents give you little tough time, or you are unwell? Do you disown every problem? Of course not! You accept that there is an issue and then you take the necessary steps to resolve the problem.
The point is to care for and respect what is ours. If we don't, then who would? I feel an ownership, a sense of belonging to Pakistan, which no matter how hard I tried, I didn't feel towards Canada. I just didn't want to raise my son in a place, which he or ultimately I couldn't call our own.
There is one more important point I feel I must raise here. This land is like our 'mother' and we proudly call it 'the motherland'. It is our responsibility to respect our motherland and care for it like our own mother. This is the place that gives us identity. No matter what we do or where we go, we will always be Pakistani first and then anything or anyone else. I feel sad as well as sick that a new trend has started of putting Pakistan down and bad-mouthing our nation as the new 'IN' thing in the social media and the youth. This not only needs to be addressed but dealt with properly. Every single one of us needs to make an individual as well as collective effort to help reshape people's perception of our home, our nation, Our Pakistan!
The struggle to achieve what you really want in life is what brings you true happiness. It is not whether you achieve that eventual goal but the will to stay on gives the satisfaction. Most people in their lives may not be able to change the entire world but the fact that they might make a small dent in their own surroundings is what counts at the end. Even if you don't make that small dent, it is important that you tried no matter how much you were criticized for it.
In these times, when everything around you seems disastrous, you hope to find a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't remember the last time when we weren't hoping against hope or the unending wait for good to come our way has not made us anxious?
Every day begins in a very predictable manner. You wake up and the first thing your Mom talks about over a cup of tea is “Iss Mulk ka kya banay ga?”(what will happen to this country?) Take an auto to office. They grumble over something that you can't avoid even with your headset switched on: “Iss Mulk ka kya banay ga?”
You reach office hoping to finally kick off the day with assured zeal. You look at your 'to do list' and a colleague passes by after greeting you, he shares the most important query of our times, “Iss Mulk ka kya banay ga?” He obviously wants you to ponder over it. But I'm frankly quite disgusted hearing this, time and again.
Everyone tells you, “It is best for you to leave this country.” You walk in for a visa interview and the officer questions you, “As a minority, have you ever been discriminated against?” Unable to understand the question at first you ask again and replying to this one is difficult. You haven't been discriminated against 'severely' but you realize that your reply can either get you the fancy stamp or you'll be deprived off it for a while. Being truthful you proudly say, “No sir! I and my family have never been discriminated,” “that means you'll return back to Pakistan,” comes back the reply. Not a proud moment, after all.
You go out of the country, and you yearn to come back, you dread the day you decided to go out. You miss everything that is Pakistan friends, family, food, daily routine and the roads. Standing in scorching heat in an alien foreign land you start thinking of the roads of your city, how exactly you know where they take you. No matter how many flyovers and underpasses are built you know your way around the city.
It is strange how you start feeling closer to home when you're away from home.
Counter arguing with friends and colleagues about the future and the feeling that you couldn't debate them anymore. After all you don't live in isolation from your surrounding and what's happening around you affects you immensely.
Meeting a family friend who had first-hand eye witness account of the partition of British India, while talking casually, you utter few pessimistic words about the ongoing state of the country and tell him how many of your friends have started thinking of fleeing. He places his cup of tea on the table and appears to be lost in thoughts. After a pause of silence, he asks you about your opinion in a worried tone. You tell him that you still haven't lost all hopes though quite a time, you feel down... While listening, his eyes shine, reflecting back to those eventful days of partition, he begins to narrate what he witnessed. He tells you about the chaos of the sudden displacement and how he himself witnessed horrible atrocities, specially that heart wrenching event in which he lost some of his natal family members in the train journey. He, in wet tone, tells that the trauma of all that violence still haunts him in his memories.
Then all of a sudden he asks, “Have you ever found me or any of your elders regretting of the partition?” My reply is; No! He continues, “Those were most painful days, but it was worth it. We knew even if not us, our next generation will feel safe and prosperous. We trusted on the leadership of Jinnah and sacrificed for freedom. What else is the biggest blessing for one's life, other than freedom?”
One gets lost in thoughts. Nations take centuries to evolve. Pakistan is just 68. We are the second generation after the partition. Our elders sacrificed for us. They are as hurt as all the youth, may be more than us, as they better know how their dreams for Pakistan have been shattered. But still they own Pakistan and hope to rise again. What I realized is that freedom has its cost and taking it for granted is what we are mistaken. Nations have to pass through the testing times that doesn't weaken them; rather that makes them stronger than ever.
Scattered in your thoughts you realize how safely this 76 year-old has stayed and fought his internal wars, he hasn't travelled away yet he has picked himself again and again. The childhood memories of singing national songs start resonating your ears; the one that you used to sing in school choir, “Ham laayay hain toofaan say kashti nikaal kay - is mulk ko rakhna meray bachou sanbhaal kay”. We have brought the ship out of strom please look after this country).
You come to know what Pakistan means to you. Pakistan is like a ship for you; a shelter in the storm. Leaving the ship is not the solution. You need to fight with the fiery waves and win this battle. Reminding you of a famous quote, “A ship is safe in harbour, but that's not what ships are for.”
You recall that in Convent, in the morning assembly prayer, at the end you would say “God Bless my country, my parents, my teachers and my school.” You were supposed to pledge allegiance to the flag of Pakistan. Most of the time the flag was not even there but then too you said it. It always felt good. And you realize even today you feel no different. That was my Pakistan and that shall remain my Pakistan my childhood memory, my youthful love, my future and my destiny. We - the minority in Pakistan - have lived through all good and bad times. This is our home. It is second-to-none. We shall leave no stone unturned to work for our home;
Concepts of ‘generational improvement’ and social mobility essentially outline how successive generations should aim for better life than their predecessors with improved living standards and status, are heavily tied to access to good quality education. Furthermore, should a good quality education be unobtainable due to lack of financial resources and/or lack of suitable educational facilities, the lower class of society finds itself permanently locked in a cycle of poverty. These factors may exist due to various reasons all over Pakistan, but are especially pronounced in Balochistan that has suffered sustained lack of opportunities if compared to other provinces. For a number of reasons literacy rate is extremely low in Balochistan.
Pakistan Navy is fully aware of this situation in Balochistan being an established military force across the entire coastal area in Balochistan. PN has therefore, expended considerable effort to improve educational facilities and prospects for the Baloch youth in the coastal areas and has improved recruitment opportunities for the young Baloch students to have a successful career in Pakistan Navy. Pakistan Navy also runs education facilities that provide both free education and has reserved seats in these institutions for the local students. These institutions not only serve the immediate and long term aspirations of the local communities to achieve an element of generational/social mobility but bring them into the mainstream of Pakistani society as well as increasing the Pakistan Navy’s talent pool from which to potentially draw recruits.
One of Pakistan Navy’s flagship educational projects is Cadet College Ormara (CCO). CCO is a major educational facility in Balochistan in support of federal government initiatives to improve education in the province, and is providing education from Class VIII to HSSC level. CCO facilities include full range of academic, accommodation, administrative, and recreational (including a swimming pool), and prayer facilities amongst others to support the full range of educational and extracurricular needs of students. CCO is undoubtedly a standout education facility as four batches of 60 cadets made up the initial intake, making the present number of students approximately 260. Perhaps more important than the facilities themselves; however, are the efforts to widen access to CCO to all levels of local society in which fifty percent of seats are reserved for the Baloch students who are provided free education as well. Of the current student intake, 109 cadets at CCO are the local Baloch students.
The inclusion of cadets in CCO’s intake is notable as the scheme has been revived exclusively for Baloch candidates in which all expenditures, i.e., education, boarding/lodging, messing, and others are borne by government of Pakistan. Under the scheme 25 Baloch candidates will be selected each year to undergo studies from Class VIII to HSSC. Should they complete this course of study and get recommended by the ISSB, they will then be cleared to join Pakistan Naval Academy as PN cadets. This gives them the opportunity to not only have good education, but the opportunity for a career as well, something perhaps equally important in a region where employment opportunities to suit a higher level of education are limited. Additionally, it is ensured that the scheme is available to students from humble backgrounds who otherwise are unable to avail such opportunities.
These schemes will be indispensible in setting up local students with a chance to have successful careers. However, there is no escaping the fact that a sound primary education is the key giving children the initial chance to make the best of their abilities. Unfortunately due to financial constraints, Montessori level education is beyond the reach of many parents who also struggle to provide their children with a primary level education. To overcome this constraint, the Bahria Foundation has established subsidised educational facilities to provide students with the firm foundation from where they may progress, starting from Montessori level. These include Bahria Model College Ormara (BMCO), Bahria Model School Gwadar (BMSG), Bahria Model School Jiwani (BMSJ), and Bahria Model School Turbat (BMST). It is worth looking at these schools individually as they have been established recently.
BMCO was established in 2004 to offer classes from Montessori as a primary school, but has since become a college offering classes to HSSC and is affiliated with the Quetta Board. Of the current 650 students, 500 are local Baloch students, which indicates that BMCO is one of the main educational facilities in Ormara. Pakistan Navy is further supporting the BMCO by providing pick and drop facilities for students and staff besides providing staff and financing the running of BMCO. Bahria Model School Gwadar (BMSG) runs classes from Montessori to Class IX, and was established in 2010 to provide subsidised education to local Baloch children. 417 students currently registered at the school are entirely locals, with the eventual aim to increase this to 1,000 when the new school building currently under construction is completed. This will also allow provision of education up to intermediate level. New building will feature a library, science laboratory, plus indoor and outdoor sports facilities. Not only will BMSG evolve into a standout educational facility for the port and surrounding region, but is also set to become a significant employer in Gwadar. Running costs of the school are presently being met by grant from Pakistan Navy though students also pay a nominal fee.
Towards the western coast at Jiwani, Bahria Model School Jiwani (BMSJ) was established in 2012 where students from Montessori to Class IV are allowed addmissions. All the 163 students presently enrolled at the school are locals, and its running cost plus salaries are being met by Pakistan Navy. The newest of Pakistan Navy run educational facilities is Bahria Model School Turbat (BMST) that was established in 2015 to provide education from Montessori to Class III for the 159 students presently enrolled. The school building is being constructed in phases with ten classrooms and associated facilities presently available, but will eventually be expanded to offer college level education.
Considering the small population of the towns in which the above schools have been established, (with only Gwadar and Turbat approaching anywhere near 100,000 residents, and the others far fewer), they offer an important avenue for the long term advancement of the local population over and above the existing educational facilities already present. Certainly in the smaller towns, such as Jiwani and Ormara, the schools established by Pakistan Navy are the only quality educational facilities making them all the more important. Considering Ormara is Pakistan Navy’s operational base it stands to reason that much of its development efforts are focused there. Therefore, Pakistan Navy has also endeavoured to support existing schools at Ormara City. These include the Government Boys High School Ormara, Government Girls High School Ormara, and Government Middle Schoolfor Boys Ormara – Pakistan Navy is providing assistance such as furniture, stationery, teachers and maintenance of the school buildings. Additionally, a serving naval officer (a Lieutenant or Lieutenant Commander), is also appointed as the principal of Government High School Ormara. Children from the coastal strip in Balochistan are also the beneficiaries of the Chief of Naval Staff 'Sponsor a Child Scheme' whereby students from humble backgrounds can be sponsored to allow them to benefit from free education at Bahria Model Schools, and some may also be eligible for provision of books, stationery, uniform, and shoes. 129 students are currently benefiting from this generous scheme. Not all efforts are restricted to the coastal strip however, a scheme is in place to reserve two seats for Baloch students and one from Dera Bugti at the prestigious Cadet College Petaro (CCP) in Sindh.
Efforts to increase the educational opportunities for Baloch students are not just confined to Balochistan. Having been the main focus of naval activity since independence, Karachi has by far used the most naval facilities, and this also includes Bahria Model Schools. To take advantage of these educational facilities, and avail them for the use of Baloch students, a scheme has been put in place to provide free (fully funded) education. Pakistan Navy meets all boarding/lodging, and educational costs to 10 Baloch students per year in Karachi from Class VIII to HSSC. Presently there are 30 students that are benefiting from the scheme, and upon completion of their studies they will have the opportunity to join Pakistan Navy. In recognition of the need to nurture the talents of local Baloch students to their fullest and allow them to reach their full potential, access to higher education has also been taken care of through reservation of places in Bahria University. One place each has been reserved in the MBA and BBA programmes at the university’s Karachi campus. Those selected for these places are spared tuition and associated fee. Furthermore, one place each is reserved in the MBBS and BDS Departments at Bahria UniversityMedical & DentalCollege. As a service to the nation at large, its efforts to support education in Balochistan are an excellent example of Pakistan Navy serving the nation at land as well as sea.