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22 September 2017

The Unholy Trinity

Zagum Abbas
The writer studies Political Science in Government College University, Lahore. He can be reached at Zagum.Mubbashir@facebook.com

I took the inspiration to write this article from some curious incidents occurred to me a couple of years ago and since the admission season in different universities across the country is fast approaching, I consider it important to share this experience with the students of Gilgit-Baltistan. Upon securing admission in Government College University Lahore for graduation, I had good many reasons to celebrate because it was among the top priority list of mine. But my mirth was soon to be tainted by few people around me. After completing a semester I went back to Gilgit to spend some vacations and I was critically interviewed by friends and relatives alike for what I was up to. My answer of pursuing a graduation studies came as a shock for many people around and many of them remarked with a pungent tone that this was not they had expected from me. Some of them said that I could have been a good professional engineer; some were of the opinion that my demeanor is best suited for Pakistan Army, so I should have opted for that. Among those close to me were well aware that I had shut the doors of medical profession very early in career when I opted for engineering in my higher secondary level, so they dared not to speak in favor of it. I was awe-struck at such a response nevertheless, and the reason to narrate all this is to elaborate a general misconception inherent in our culture of education.

There is a great fallacy implicit in the prevalent general conception about education among the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Securing a quota based reserved seat especially for engineering and medical is the yardstick upon which the success and career of a student is gauged, as if the reserved seat is a cornerstone and a promise for a successful and bright career. This is an unfair treatment with students who don’t get the seats and are held in a 3rd rank degree which seriously perils the confidence and discourages them for the rest of their future. I came across too many students who shared the same experience many times in their academic odyssey. Many of them who are otherwise very talented and outstanding had to face the brunt of an imposed failure from the general community. By the time when a student passes the higher secondary level of examination, he/she has a better know-how about the career options to which they should opt for. At this critical juncture an imposed decision from elders or seniors can poke a student to an unwanted situation from where an exit becomes almost impossible. I came across many students, who in order to please parents or some distant kin or any other senior, opt for such a career to which they remain regretful throughout their life. This does not imply that a student should not be guided; he/she must have an idea about what options they have on the table and must be aware of the existing trends in professional career. For that matter opinion from seniors, professionals and relatives must always be welcomed but that should not be enforced on somebody disregarding his/her personal predilections and talent.

With due regards to the importance of medical, engineering and army career, it is the need of hour for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to appreciate, encourage and motivate their young generation to other careers and professions. We as a nation must come out from the spell of this unholy trinity. We have been producing a good many doctors, talented engineers and sound Army officers but we have not produced many good senior Judges or a barristers, we have never been able to produce good sportsmen of whom we could be proud of. There is nobody to mention in higher echelons of bureaucracy, let alone a good politician. There is an alarming dearth of public intellectuals, except few people. Out of so many reasons of our nose-diving, one is our incapability to produce notable historians who could chronicle our history and parcel it out to the outside world. Our historiography still rests in the hands of foreign people who mould it according to their expediencies. I don’t hereby totally negate or trying to disregard many of our eminent scholars who are working upon history and have produced valuable literature but that has not made its presence felt. There should be a serious focus to vent out our voice to outside world and that demands valuable work in foreign languages prominently English. There is a terrible dearth of people who could represent Gilgit-Baltistan on media and social forums.

A renaissance is the need of hour and to rise to the panicles we need “Renaissance men” and this is only possible when we let ourselves to accept the diversity in the field of education. Let us have this courage to accept a musicologist, a calligrapher, a writer, an actor, a professional model, a designer, an orator or a melodious singer. Let us provide a room for those people who wanted to do something peculiar in life but cannot because of societal norms and traditions and etc etc. Let the people flow with their predilections. Let us not be a mad follower and conformist who chooses a career out of societal approval or because he/she would be deemed wasted by few ignorant people. In the lines of Edgar Allen Poe: “ There are surely other worlds than this, other thoughts then the thoughts of multitude, other speculations than the speculations of sophist, who then shall call thy conduct into question? Who blame thee for thy visionary hours or denounce those occupations as the wasting away of life, which were but the overflowing of thine everlasting energies.” Long live the nation.