Posted by: Titus Presler | May 12, 2011

College “steers between extremism & modernism,” says student

Before a lovely reception this afternoon for graduating degree students on the front lawn of the Principal’s Bungalow here at Edwardes College in Peshawar, I was chatting with a group of students and asking them what their next steps would be following graduation with Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees.  Most of this particular group of about eight or nine intended to go to law school, though one intended to study for an M.B.A.

Then I asked them what was special about their Edwardes experience.  “The atmosphere,” said one, so I asked, “What about the atmosphere?”  “Here we realized that what we have to offer will not be wasted,” said one.  “The candor and openness in the classroom,” said another.

Then another commented, “Here the teachers steer us between extremism and modernism.  That’s what we learned at this college.”  He explained that he meant that at Edwardes the culture of the Pakhtun people is honored, along with the Pushto language – that was what steered clear of a thorough-going modernism that would jettison everything about the conservative culture found along the Pakistan-Afghan border.  At the same time, the Edwardes education steers quite clear of the religious extremism that is tearing apart the fabric of civil society in this part of the world.

That is a major contribution for a college to make in Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  And the issues are not abstract. Just two or three days ago a bomb went off near a courthouse in Nowshera, near Peshawar; a woman police officer was killed and about a dozen civilians were injured.  In the same time period a journalist in Peshawar was killed when a bomb went off in his car after he finished shopping in a supermarket.  Over the weekend down in Quetta, a gang of militants swooped down on a park in the early morning and starting shooting people at random; six innocent people were killed.

“Between extremism and modernism” – that sounds like moderation, doesn’t it?  In this environment, such a course can be radical.


  1. And radically important for us all. Thank you, Titus.

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