“Dr.” Rehman Malik ‘s parents living in hell or heaven would surely be proud parents who throughout their life never enjoyed such kind of high quality literary success of their son of gun but now this decision of University of Karachi surely has fulfilled their hidden desire of seeing their son at highest level of education in his country.
WHEN BLINDS DISTRIBUTE SWEETS, THEY DO AMONG THEMSELVES
[AN OLD URDU PROVERB]
by Huma Yusuf
Note for WoP readers: Ours is a country unique in many respects. Its called the Islamic Republic and all what is done here is anti Islamic. People are killed in the name of so called Islamic ideas for which religious shrines are bombed, praying men there are shot and the security of individual [what to speak of other welfare needs that the state ought to provide to the people] remains always at stake. However, instead of addressing such issues, our leaders are prone to frequently hijack the usual cadre protocols, norms, and academic standards.
It was in the sixties that we had a General who never did win any battle on a front, never did he earn a victory in a war, yet he was declared a Field Martial. By whom? By his own self. The only merit that he had was that he staged a coup and took over reigns of the state through sheer use of force.
The late Pakistani Prime Minister Ch. Muhammad Ali had once said: Elsewhere, the generals in the army earn the honorific title of Field Martial when they have earned a meritorious recognition in service of their country. In doing so they bag victory over their enemies and win honour of for their homeland, but here in Pakistan our General does what. He conquers his own country and declares himself the Field Martial.
Then in addition to such fictitious self awards, there is a plethora of our politicians who have likewise given themselves umpteen number of titles such as Fakhr-e-Asia, Lion of the Punjab, Mard-e-Haq, Mard-e-Hur, Fakhr-e-Afaghana, so on and so forth. Yet the height of such callous distribution of awards has been the recent conferment of a doctorate on our ‘most devoted’, ‘most respected’, ‘most loved’ Rahman Malik.
The way the University of Karachi especially its Vice Chancellor and the two pro chancellors agreed to bestow this degree on a man who has nothing to his credit except that whenever there is some mishap in the country [and nowadays these are so frequent and countless that you have to think twice what happened when] he immediately appears on the TV screens and makes bombastic statements, hollow words, without any substance and import.
By conferring this award, the University of Karachi has manifested to us to what low levels our academia have stooped to.
Ironically, when we venture to delve in the raison d’être for this award we are left wondering, was this a moment of rejoice or mourning?
What exactly did Rehman Malik do to deserve an honour which hard-working students strive for many, many years to achieve? How hypocritical is it to award a man a degree for peace in a country where hundreds of people are dying by the day?
1. From 2003 – 2007 the total casualties from suicide and terrorism incidents were 6,800. However, after the PPP came into power and Rehman Malik took charge, the number of casualties rose much higher.
In 2008 alone 6,715 people were killed.
In 2009, 11,585 people and in 2010, 7,435 people were killed.
Up until till February 2011, 708 people have been killed in Pakistan due to terrorism related incidents and attacks.
Some peace Dr Rehman Malik has brought us. This number is a staggering 26,443, almost four times the amount of people killed during the period from 2003 to 2007. If the award were for quadrupling the death toll, Malik certainly deserves it.
Below is a breakdown of terrorist violence in Pakistan between 2003 and 2011:
|Year||Civilians||Security Forces (SFs)||Terrorists||Total|
(Source: SATP * Data till February 20, 2011)
2. Target killing in Karachi has worsened and hundreds of people have died during Malik’s tenure.
In 2008, 777 people lost their lives in Karachi. Over the years this number has increased.
2011: 1495 (so far)
3. The situation in Balochistan has worsened and if proper steps are not taken we might loose another part of Pakistan.
4. US drones have been entering Pakistan and have killed civilians almost every day.
5. It was under Malik’s reign that US forces entered our territory to capture and kill Osama bin Laden
These are just the top five facts which clearly reason that awarding Rehman Malik a PhD degree for peace is a joke to say in the least.
In my opinion, this degree has only been conferred on him for his ‘matchless’ efforts of bringing the MQM back in to government time and again and his ‘matchless’ patience in listening to the accusations constantly levelled at him.
Rehman Malik does not deserve the honourable title of ‘doctor’ next to his name. He has brought us only pain, misery and shame. In fact, awarding him the award of a PhD lessens the value of this prestigious degree in all Pakistani’s eyes. It is such a tragedy that the leaders of our country reward people based on their connections rather than their achievements. [Nayyar]
I HAD barely been at university for two weeks when the buzz began: Nelson Mandela, then president of South Africa, was coming to campus to receive an honorary degree.
It was the third time in the institution’s 362-year history that a special convocation would be held to bestow such an award: the previous recipients were George Washington and Winston Churchill. It was history in the making.
The convocation ranks as one of the most memorable days of my life: over 25,000 people gathered in my university yard to hear Mandela speak, and see him receive the distinct honour. It also offered one of the most important lessons of my university years: that the best learning does not necessarily happen in the classroom.
For a freshman, attending the historic recognition of Mandela’s struggles against apartheid was an exercise in humility. I believed until then that a good degree was a ticket to success; his example demonstrated that it would take much more than just graduating to make a real difference.
Since Interior Minister Rehman Malik received an honorary degree from the University of Karachi, and that too in a special
ceremony at the Governor House, the memory of Mandela’s convocation has recurred to me many times. In retrospect, what strikes me most about that event is that before Mandela took the podium, the president of the university delivered a speech explaining why Mandela was receiving an honorary degree.
Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, who is also the chancellor of the Karachi University, conferred on Tuesday an honorary doctorate degree on Senator Abdul Rehman Malik in recognition of his “matchless services to the country in the war on terror and particularly in restoring peace to citizens of Karachi.”
This decision has been met with condemnation from the university’s teachers and students. The president of the Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS), Dr Abid Hasnain, expressed his resentment. This is the first time ever that the administration has bypassed the syndicate in deciding an honorary degree, he said.
“The executive council of KUTS had condemned the decision in its meeting on October 8 and there is no division among the various groups of teachers in this regard.”
The speech listed all of Mandela’s achievements, from his early years as a student activist to his time in prison and his gains as South Africa’s first black president. None in that crowd of thousands would have disputed that Mandela deserved the degree, and yet the university president retraced his long walk to freedom.
I now realise that this preamble was necessary to maintain the integrity of the institution by publicly justifying its motivations for honouring Mandela.
As such, the convocation was simultaneously a celebration of Mandela’s remarkable career and the university’s values. The message for assembled students was clear: do not take accolades lightly, earn them and revere them. It is truly unfortunate that Malik’s recent degree ceremony conveyed a far less inspiring message for Pakistan’s college-age students.
In a country where knowledge and merit are regularly trounced by violence and social connections, Malik’s honorary degree reiterates that who you know is more important than what you know.
This message rings truer because an incomplete university syndicate approved the decision to award Malik the degree, meaning that proper university protocol was not observed in this case. Speaking to the press, many KU faculty members have
expressed serious reservations about the decision. This dissent will no doubt further mar the integrity of the university administration.
The obvious political dimensions of the award could also have far-reaching consequences for educational environments.
Students may be more inclined to engage with the student wings of political parties, believing those contacts to be more useful to their future success than their coursework. Given the aggressive and counterproductive nature of student politics at KU, this is not necessarily a good thing. Student politics are meant to nurture the bud of democracy, not blight it with nepotism.
The award is particularly damaging in light of the recent ‘fake degree’ scandal in our parliament (who can forget Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani’s “a degree is a degree, whether it is fake or genuine” logic?). That episode had senior politicians discrediting the worth of education by deeming it irrelevant.
Malik’s doctoral degree is further proof that educational qualifications have utility even if they are hollow and shambolic. Many are also questioning the timing of the degree, which acknowledges Malik’s efforts to bring stability to Karachi and fight terrorism. Violence continues to erupt in corners of Karachi, and recent newspaper headlines have decried the non-implementation of the Supreme Court’s recommendations in its suo moto judgment.
Counterterror initiatives are also flagging: there has been an uptick in terror attacks; Pakistan’s recent tensions with the US cast doubt on its commitment to dismantle militant groups; and the memory of the terrorist attack against the Mehran naval base in Karachi lingers. In short, the task of bringing peace to Pakistan has barely even begun — any awards that imply otherwise are certainly premature.
There’s also the simple matter of lowered standards for politicians: as the interior minister of our country, it is Malik’s job to stem violence in the commercial capital and to spearhead the national fight against terror groups. His achievements, however they are counted, are the basic responsibility of his political position. That which KU has recognised him for is what our other elected representatives should be doing day in and day out, in service of the nation.
Take a step back from the situation and it becomes disturbing to think that a politician who makes a few gestures that resemble service is awarded an honorary doctoral degree. Leave aside the political context of the award and it becomes an indication of how low Pakistani expectations of politicians are.
Ultimately, though, the most problematic aspect of Malik’s honorary degree is the negative impact it has on role models for Pakistani youth. Already, our country’s youngsters have few nationally revered figures to admire and emulate. Even fewer of these are intellectuals. Our one Nobel Prize laureate has been wiped from the public imagination owing to rampant religious discrimination.
The controversy surrounding Malik’s degree could cast doubt on the integrity — and more importantly, the relevance — of genuine academics throughout the country. And that’s the last thing a country suffering such severe intellectual poverty needs.
The writer is a freelance journalist. She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
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