NUML incident

Published February 6, 2010

In Pakistan, a curriculum has been followed that, with its jingoistic ideology, leaves little room for the concept of plurality. -Photo by APP
A LECTURER at Islamabad's National University of Modern Langua-ges, Tahir Malik, was on Thursday beaten up by the institution's registrar, Brig (retd) Ranjha, and two security guards. Students and teachers seized the campus and blocked traffic on the adjacent road, relinquishing control only after being assured that action would be taken against the registrar. The confrontation was sparked by a petty issue, and escalated after the lecturer alleged that the registrar had been appointed in violation of the rules.

Reportedly, the registrar told the NUML rector that the lecturer had said “something about the army”. We can expect allegations and counter-allegations to make it difficult to ascertain the facts. However, what is clear is that regardless of the provocation, a physical assault of this kind is unacceptable. It is also despicable that these two staff members regressed to the level of name-calling and what can only be termed as playground behaviour.

In more general terms, this incident is indicative of the falling standards of discipline in the country's educational institutions. In its essence education is a basic recognition of the rights of man and the accompanying rules of civilised behaviour. Staff members and students of higher education centres the world over are expected to display exemplary levels of self-restraint. In Pakistan, however, standards have been allowed to fall all around. A curriculum has been followed that, with its jingoistic ideology, leaves little room for the concept of plurality. The training of teachers too has left a lot to be desired. Most teachers are unqualified to impart values of tolerance to their students. In fact, societal values themselves have changed — power is now considered the domain of those who appropriate it. These issues must be addressed, or the frequency of unsavoury incidents such as that at NUML will continue to rise.

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