Terror outfits often take refuge behind so-called other-worldly conceived ideologies offering tantalising promises to their adherents in order to coalesce them into a formidable movement to challenge a governmental system or any ideology they detest. Endeavours they make to show the entities they oppose in poor display. These outfits also develop transnational wherewithal to entrench their roots beyond borders. Violence is their ultimate weapon they unleash, often indiscriminately. Present day terror outfits being confronted in Pakistan were midwifed by capitalist block and its advocates with America in lead role to neutralise then rising socialist USSR. Thus, religious right was financed to do as proxy but unfortunately there was no well-defined ‘exit strategy’ jihadists were to have been deprogrammed after the purpose was served. Meanwhile, over a period of time the rudderless Jihadist metamorphosed and subsequently started doing as Frankenstein. For the last many years, continual war has been going on against these disruptive elements here in Pakistan. Local police, paramilitary force and armed forces of country, being augmented by intelligence apparatus, equipped with requisite paraphernalia have been battling against them. Current palpable lull in the otherwise oft-occurring terror acts across the country shows that state action against terrorists is paying the dividends. That said, the use of force should not be considered as the only panacea for this ill rather there should be a multi-pronged approach to change the erosive ‘mindset’ with benignly pacifist one. How can the corrosive mindset produced by extremism be replaced without bolstering the educational system? Neglecting education sector is not a crime of little enormity. It would be sheer lack of discernment to expect a society — devoid of vibrant education — to beat the growing trend of extremism There are two ways to assail this nuisance: Strengthening schooling; and putting curbs on further proliferation of seminaries. Our schooling system is suffering from multiple ailments like less budgetary allocations, reported opacity in appropriation of funds, out-fashioned syllabus and pedagogy, teachers’ incompetence, shortage of school buildings and poor allied infrastructure. This unhealthy paraphernalia produces poor graduates clumsily wandering around in the competitive job market. Joblessness despite being graduate discourages parents from committing their children to school. Instead, seminary with free boarding, lodging, messing and with attraction of divine promise for ‘good hereafter’ makes it a choice of parents to opt for children while being oblivious to noxious bias it inculcates. Figures, gathered by different surveying outfits Alif Ailaan being one of those known for its credible statistics, reveal alarming plight of education. As per one estimate, about 24 million boys and girls are out of school in the country. The said strength makes more than 44 per cent of all the children with age between 5-16 years in the country. Of this, 13 millions are girls. Pakistan is said have the second largest number of out-of-school female students in the world. Given our social milieu, female education is not taken seriously. The concept ‘educating a female is equivalent to educating a complete family’ stands good. Dropout ratio is another alarming issue. More than 40 per cent of government-run schools are in poor shape lacking basic infrastructure like furniture, bathrooms, walls, roofs, electricity and sanitation. As per Alif Ailaan, 21 per cent of government-owned schools are functioning with a single teacher whereas 14 per cent schools are single classrooms. 2.68 per cent of GDP currently earmarked for education is far less as compared to rational requirement of this sector. How can the corrosive mindset of extremism be replaced without bolstering the educational system? Neglecting education sector is not a crime of little enormity. It would be sheer lack of discernment to expect a society, devoid of vibrant education, to beat the growing trend of extremism. Our universities and colleges once been the seats of learning are now unfortunately in a retrogressive mode. Student unions had been the source of confidence building and inspiration to students. Forward looking minds had got transformed with leadership qualities while studying in these educational institutes. However, during cold war era and immediately afterwards, cleric and clergy had remained the priority of state thus encouraging seminary to produce Jihadist lot. That was acceptable phenomenon then and Pakistan alone cannot be held responsible for this. Gulf countries, America and its allies patted such activities. Almost every political party has its student wing in campuses indulging in activities not keeping with educational environment. The recurring episodes of vigilantism by activists of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba; the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)’s student wing in Punjab University are a case in point. Among other things, IJT vigilantes involve themselves in gender bias forcing female students to restrict themselves to separate enclosures in varsity canteens, parks and other public spaces. Lustrous schooling is lethally good weapon against the extremism and militancy. That is the reason militants have been targeting school children and blasting school buildings. We better concentrate on youth education by ensuring quality education in clean environment with robustly vetted syllabus meeting the modern day requirements. That said, parental supervision is a must to ensure that youngsters are not falling prey to sermons of the so-called clerics who incite to violence against minority communities. Recent episodes in which individuals from institutes of high repute were found involved in undesirable activities should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities. Nooreen Leghari, a medical student from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences Jamshoro, Saad Aziz, IBA Karachi graduate and some others graduated from Karachi University are the few examples. Nooreen who had joined a militant outfit was rescued in a targeted operation by security forces in Lahore in April this year. Saad Aziz with other accomplices attacked a bus carrying people of Ismaili sect in Karachi and the footprints of militants involved in targeting Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan, Opposition leader in Sindh Assembly took investigators to Karachi University. It is about time the authorities made arrangements to keep our youth safe from religious extremism, but the saga of ghost schools and ghost teachers unfortunately still haunts our educational discourse. The writer is freelance contributor. He blogs at https://malibaloch.wordpress.com/ and can be reached on twitter @M_Abaloch Published in Daily Times, October 7th 2017.