I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that jihadist sentiments are on the rise in a country where the madrasas have been dubbed “universities of jihad,” and where sympathizers of bin Laden can be found at the highest levels of government.
“Islamist voices rise on Pakistani campuses,” from the Christian Science Monitor, :
…Islamist student unions are battling for the hearts and minds of young Muslims – receiving a boost from a growing student conservatism as well as IJT’s ability to fill in gaps left by the poor funding of education here.
Some 23,000 students attend Punjab University, a place that the government hopes will foster the values of “enlightened moderation.” The leafy grounds echo campuses around the world: young men and women stroll together down shaded lanes; a young woman poses giddily for a picture.
But some faculty members say that their tolerant and liberal viewpoints are facing an increasingly tough challenge. And students say they’ve seen IJT activists beat others whose public behavior they deem unacceptable. In one example highlighted by the local press, IJT activists allegedly beat a newly married couple whom they mistakenly thought were flirting in public.
IJT activists deny such charges. “This is false propaganda. There is not one incident in which IJT workers beat students,” says Nasurallah Khan Goraya, president of IJT, which is linked to the Jamaat Islami, a popular Islamist party with seats in the National Assembly.
Members of IJT, who number some 3,000 nationally, say they promote Islamic values not only by policing student behavior but by helping needy students. Pakistan spends less than $600 per student per year on higher education, proportionally less than comparable South Asian countries, according to comparative studies. Its spending on overall public education, the lowest in the region, declined to 1.8 percent of GDP in 2002-03 from 2.6 percent of GDP in 1990.
The US has proposed $87 million in aid for higher education in Pakistan between 2002 and 2007.
IJT leaders say they do not receive any money directly from Jamaat Islami. The bulk of their funding, they say, comes from private donations from former members both in Pakistan and abroad and supports campaignssuch as aiding schools in earthquake-affected areas and holding book fairs. “We have only an ideological link with Jamaat Islami,” Mr. Goraya says. “We do not depend on them.”