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Post Bin Laden's Death: Charlie Wilson's Real War

 

Osama bin Laden's death is a pivot point for Pakistan.  Just as the 'Arab Spring' is bringing about greater democracy and freedoms in North Africa and the Arab world, the decline of Al Qaeda and its ideology must be used to open up new wells of opportunity in Pakistan.  This is especially true in the field of education. Consider this sobering fact: of the 67 million children who miss out on schooling, 25 million of them live in Pakistan. It is impossible to comprehend the cost to that country in economic and social terms of this education emergency.  Above all, it is a moral travesty.  

Even though the vast majority of its citizens love peace and yearn for stability, it is neither a coincidence nor a surprise that Pakistan has become a haven for extremists.  When educational and economic opportunity is beyond reach because the state is failing generation after generation of children, radicalism and fear of the outside always finds a home.  

Bin Laden's death is a moment of reckoning for the small number of extremists who remain wedded to jihadist ideology that would repress women and girls and trample on human freedoms.   It is clear that their hate-filled ideas offer no solution to the millions living in poverty in Muslim countries.  The death of Osama Bin Laden doesn't mean the end of terrorism -- not by a long shot -- but it surely offers leaders and citizens the chance to imagine and build a future that does away with terrorism.  

In places like Indonesia, people have discovered how extending the reach of opportunity can help build more productive, healthier and happier communities.  As we wrote about here, Australia invests millions every year in helping the Indonesian Government build schools and colleges because both countries understand that peace in the region benefits from more open minds and fewer clenched fists.  

But look at Pakistan, which receives billions in military aid each year to help it fight terrorism, far more than it receives in grants to build classrooms.  Let's hope the people of Pakistan make the most of recent events and stand up for a reversal of such wrong-headed priorities.  The question today is: will the people and government of Pakistan take hold of the moment?