By Shaheen Buneri
MINGORA: The campaign launched by a religious clerk thorough his FM channel against girls education is getting momentum as hundreds of girls students have stopped attending their schools on the advice of their elders.
Maulana Fazllullah, a religious clerk with extremist veiws and son-in-law of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of the defunct Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-Muhammadi (TNSM) has launched an agressive campiagn against girls education through his illegal FM channel from a small village of Imam Dheri close to Mingora Town of district Swat, North West Pakistan. Every night after the Esha prayers he delivers special ceremons on the topic terming girls education against Islamic injunctions and as a source of obscenity and vulgarity.Sources say that followers of Maulana Fazlullah have now started wall-chalking as a means for the communication of their fundamentalist religious veiws on girls education and administring Polio drops to the children. According to one report about 1100 children were deprived of polio drops during the previous anti-polio campiagn.
Though exact figures of the girls withdrawn from schools were not found however majority of the residents in the rural areas of Mingora are subscribing to the extremist veiws of the Maulana and forbidding their girls to attend the schools. The number is increasing every day.
" There are some people who dont consent to these veiws but due to fear can not express even a single word against them", a resident of the area told this scribe on condition of anonymity, adding that the Maulana mainly targeting women in his religious seremons.
A teacher in a local school Ahmad Ali informed that the defunct TNSM movement, which had supported a Taliban style government in the region, now showing its head in a new shape. "The Maulana is working very systemetically. First he instigated the people to burn their TV sets, computers, CD players and VCRs which he had termed sources of vulgarity, then he targeted women in his speeches and motivated them to stand against their husbands if they refuse to grow beards and now he discouraging all girls students to go to their educational institutions. Of course, he is propagating his own brand of Islam", the school teacher said.
A local lady councilor requesting anonymity explained that the religious clerk warned women of dire consequences both in this world and in the aftermath if they had stepped out of their houses. "Women in the area are donating jewellery worth millions of rupees for the construction of the Maulana’s religious Madrasah", she added.
It merits a mention here that immediately after bombing of a religious Madrasah in Bajaur Agency which killed about 80 people including close relatives of Maulana Fazlullah, he laid the foundation of this Madrassa along the river Swat.
"Every day in the morning hundreds of Maulana followers from the surrounding villages leave their household duties and come here to work in the construction work of the Madrasah with a religious zeal. People are also donating millions of rupees for meeting the construction cost in response to the Maulana’s appeal for money", Shah Alam, a resident of the area said.
When asked Jamal Nasir Khan, the district Nazim, was he concerned about the current situation in his area, he replied that definitely he was concerned about the situation as many girls would be deprived of their basic right–education. "Due to cultural barriers we are already faced with low literacy ratio among the women. The new offensive against girls education launched by the Maulana will further endanger future of our females", he maintained.
The district Nazim suggested that the best way to counter the move was to establish parralel Radio stations by the government in the area. He added that besides district Swat there were also a number of illegal FM Radio channels in the surrounding districts of Dir, Buner and Shangla, which were used by the religious clerks for the propagation of their self styled religious veiws.
An official in the district government confined to this reporter that authorities were helpless at the face of the growing influence of Maulana Fazlullah adding that some ministers and Members of the Assembly were supporting his extremist agenda to increase their vote banks and secure their seats in the next general elections.
"The situation has become very alarming and it may fan a new wave of extremism We have no enough resources and authority to take any action against the illegal FM channels. This is for the provincial and federal government to resolve the situation thorough a Jirga and if not possible then thorough a major operation against all illegal Radio stations", he suggested.
He elaborated, this is very ironic that the Maulana is motivating the people to break or burn their TV sets and VCRs while on the other hand listening to his own Radio transmissions is permitted in Islam and an act of great reward.
According to News reports, use of Radio waves for the propagation of religious beliefs increased after attacks on Afghanistan by the US and allies.
The number of illegal FM radio stations operating in Peshawar was one while there were 11 in Chrasadda, four in Mardan, 28 in Swabi, 13 in Buner, four in Hangu, one in Karak, two in Mansehra and two in Batagram. In Pata, there were eight FM stations in the Lower Dir while three more were operating in the Upper Dir, 14 in Malakand and six in Swat.