[Saqib Akbar]: The Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan while addressing the participants of Islamabad sit-in on Saturday night (September 13, 2014) once again spelled out his viewpoint regarding the education system of Pakistan.

He said: 'We will work on the education system of our country and will introduce a unified academic system here. We will abolish all prevailing systems including English medium schools, Urdu medium schools and Madrassahs and replace them with such a curriculum where besides teaching English, our own language and religion will also be taught. The current education system is responsible for creating three thoughts and three nations. We will make Pakistan one nation by introducing a common education system here.'

Imran Khan’s speech reminded me of late Qazi Hussain Ahmad. It was in 1996 that I along with some of my friends went to his residence in Islamabad G-6/4 Sector. We were talking about unity of Muslims. I asked him how we can make a single nation as long as there exist different Madrassahs (religious institutions) belonging to different schools of thought. He said we can build a great university if the number of students of religious schools is six million. These students can get admissions in this university. Consequently we can prepare specialists and experts of different religious denominations and different Islamic Fiqhs (jurisprudences) from the same place.

There is no deep philosophy involved in the aforesaid fact and anyone having an average understanding of things can comprehend it easily. Her we have different education systems and different religious schools are established in the name of different sects. The more education systems we have, the more nations will be created. There is no way out except introducing a unified education system for creating a single nation. We should examine education systems of all the developed nations. Some fields of religious education which are considered essential can be taught as separate subjects at colleges and universities. Students who are interested in these subjects should pursue them. But the harmony, understanding and nearness that will be created by having mostly common curriculum, studying in the same institution, growing up in one atmosphere and playing in one ground can be very helpful in the creation of a single nation.

Moreover, lots of books taught in Madrassahs are not compatible with contemporary needs. These books have not been written keeping in view the educational requirements. New principles and conceptions of teaching have emerged in light of centuries of experiences which are helpful in making students understand the meanings of different things in a more easy and effective way. Renowned religious scholars of the past have written many religious books manifesting their academic qualifications. These books can be utilized as different samples of elegant writing, but the actual goal is the delivery of knowledge and awareness to modern minds. Afresh compilation of such books is the need of the hour in order to make students understand the meaning in an easy and nice way. Some Islamic countries have done excellent work in this connection. Egypt, Turkey, Iran and some other countries have introduced new religious textbooks and taking cue from their experiments, we can also improve our academic texts.

For a long time many ulamas (religious scholars) and intellectuals have been criticizing the academic texts of religious schools. Some qualified and renowned ulamas are also included in this group, but still they spend their lives teaching these very texts because they believe that the atmosphere is not conducive for the change. No doubt, the environment cannot become favorable itself, but efforts are required in this regard to make the situation conducive for the change. The divide between the rich and the poor is deepened by the difference in standards of education and curricula in contemporary academic institutions. At the same time the divide in religious institutions leads to Takfir (charging one with unbelief) and Tafsiq (charging one with debauchery, profligacy). Finally, the day should come when after acknowledging these realities we decide to become a single nation.

Leaders like Imran Khan should on one hand clarify their philosophy with regard to education while on the other they should also thoroughly comprehend the impediments to implement this ideology. Some elements of the current education system act as a source of political and economic power for some parties and groups. Many people achieve fame, status, and rank by virtue of these parties and groups. Large powerful groups are ready to protect them who also are fully supported by some external forces.

However, there are individuals within them who are sincere, sagacious and understand the contemporary demands. They are ready to cooperate to solve the problems by rising above their personal and group interests. Besides further educating the masses, they need to be involved in consultations. In this regard steps are required to be taken with a firm resolve. Half-hearted measures will not work. Instead it will result in rolling back the plan. Once the first step is pulled back, then more energy will be required to start the process again.

We need such a system of education that is ready to absorb people with dissenting views and beliefs. The aim of one education system and one nation should never be that all the people in this country must be of the same opinion, must follow one ideology, and one religion, and must adopt one sect only. It should be the prerogative of individuals to adopt a religion or belief etc of his choice. We should formulate our education system and curriculum by taking into account this fact. It is the task that is worth doing. It does not matter whether it is done by Imran Khan or the current government or any far-sighted religious organization. In case it is done, then Pakistan will rid of linguistic, geographic, national, regional, political and Maslaki (sect-based) discrimination as well as scourge of sectarianism. We need this type of education system in our country so that Pakistanis will learn to live as a single nation. Whosoever will perform this duty, he will surely provide relief and respite to the people. Whoever makes efforts in this direction deserves blessings of God. Anyone can disagree with my opinion. I am supporting the ideology of a unified education system as I believe that the solution of the problems mentioned above lies in it. But if anyone has got any other formula, strategy or plan of action to solve these problems, then he definitely should put it forward.