Students get crash course in Pakistan history, politics

Several hundred students got a lesson that went way beyond the headlines as part of the Rotary Club of Wilmington’s ongoing series on Pakistan.

About 850 juniors and seniors from eight area high schools gathered at Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington Tuesday morning to hear University of Delaware professor Muqtedar Khan‘s lecture, “Pakistan: The Crisis of Identity.”

Khan says most Americans only learn the details of a foreign country when the U.S. goes to war with that country.  “There is a saying that war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography,” Khan said.  “Pakistan is a huge country.  It’s the sixth largest country in population.  It’s about half the size of United States in terms of people, and a pretty big country, bigger than Texas.  So, it’s important for us to know, just for the sake of knowing them.”

Kathleen Meyer is the Rotary Club chair for the Pakistan series at Cab Calloway.  She says it’s part of the club’s mission to connect local to the global.  “While sensational events resulting from a global rise in fundamentalism have brought Islam to a crossroads, misconceptions should not guide our western attitudes toward Pakistan,” she says.

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Khan says, “I hope that the kids leave knowing that there is a lot more to what you see in the media.  Knowledge is not sound bites.  I hope it also piques their interests sufficiently that they do projects on Pakistan, specifically history, look at the culture of Pakistan, the music of Pakistan.”

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