Opinion Blog: Deceit Reveals Need in Afghanistan, Pakistan

May 13, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Posted by Sydni Brass
sbrass@smu.edu

Three or Four Cups of Tea?

In 1993 Greg Mortenson failed attempt to climb K2, the second-tallest mountain in the world. The experience gave him the resolve for a greater achievement and he took it upon himself to build schools in regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

His memoir, “Three Cups of Tea,” details the obstacles he faced and emphasizes a favorable outcome. Consequently, it spent 220 weeks on the bestseller list.

Mortenson was hailed as a hero for his accomplishments… until now.

Recently, Mortenson was accused of fabricating key elements of his experience in the Himalayas and of misusing the funds he raised with his organization, the Central Asian Institute (CAI), after donors began to realize the numbers didn’t match up.

The newsmagazine “60 Minutes” covered the topic in a report last month and author Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) followed up the report with a 75-page manuscript entitled “Three Cups of Deceit,” available on byliner.com.

The controversy surrounding his fundraising efforts to promote education overseas, the issue is garnering adverse attention. However, the need for schooling in the Middle East is legitimate, whether Mortenson’s accounts are or not.

He may not have followed through with his plan, but he certainly spread a message to a mass audience.

In his “memoir,” Mortenson stresses that schools are the greatest weapons of war and that education abroad promotes peace. Schools certainly won’t put an end to war and terrorism, but they are a step in the right direction.

So is Mortenson the thief he is made out to be by recent reports? Probably. Did he do more harm than help? Maybe.

He conned a lot of good people out of their hard-earned money and he should be publically humiliated (as is happening now). However, we should continue his message and his claimed plan of action.

After all, the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan did not deceive CAI donors. They should not get the shaft because someone, with the intent (or maybe distant dream) of helping, was found to be a fraud.

The Daily Update: Monday, Oct. 18

October 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Monday, Oct. 18th from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Join us today to find out about a terror threat in France, if Bin Laden is alive and well in Pakistan and if there is a change of weather coming our way.

The Daily Update: Tuesday, Oct 5.

October 5, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

The Daily Update: Tuesday, Oct. 5 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Two balloonists are up in the air and may be gone with the wind. The death count in Pakistan is still going up. And almost 15 government officials are involved in corruption in one of our neighboring states. Find out more on your Daily Update.

Campus News Blog: International Students

February 28, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Kathryn Sharkey

I don’t know if it’s because I recently returned from studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, that I’m just more aware now, or if this is actually the case, but it seems like there are more and more international students on campus.

When I walk to class, I always end up near students speaking Spanish, Italian, or with thick Eastern European accents. This didn’t happen three years ago when I was a first year student.

I decided to look and see what SMU’s statistics are for international students. The SMU website states that “more than 850 international students from 90 countries attend SMU.”

The top countries that undergraduate students came from in the fall of 2009 were: India, People’s Republic of China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, Republic of South Korea, United Kingdom, El Salvador, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Panama, and Sweden, according to the office of institutional research.

What does SMU do to help these students mix with and meet Americans? It can be overwhelming to live and study in a country so drastically different from your own.

In Denmark, we had the choice to participate in a program where we were matched with a Dane and we would meet at least once a week to just do whatever. The students who participated all enjoyed it, saying it was cool to see the country with a guide who knew where to go and what was worth seeing.

I don’t know if that kind of program would work at SMU, but it might help international students cope with the culture shock.

Global News Blog: A Glimpse at the Struggles of Democracy

March 16, 2009 by · 3 Comments 

Posted by Ashlee Rivalto

A year after Pakistan celebrated its return to democracy, the country is facing democratic growing pains and political turmoil over broken promises made by the government. The present government led by head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) President Asif Ali Zardari had promised to reinstate 60 judges fired by former President Pervez Musharraf within 30 days of taking office. Those 30 days have come and gone, now Pakistani lawyers are holding the government to their promise, demanding that Zardari immediately reinstate the judges, specifically Chief Justice Musharraf. To read more about the story click here.

Starting last Thursday, thousands of Pakistani lawyers have lined the streets in a four-day march to the country’s capital in Islamabad, planning to end in a sit-in at the parliament building on Monday morning. The government responded to the march by banning political demonstrations in two of the country’s biggest provinces and also detained several hundred demonstrators on Wednesday. But the lawyers vowed to march until their demands were met.

On Saturday, in another attempt to silence the opposition, the government banned GEO-TV, a Pakistani television station known to be critical of the government and following the lawyers’ protests throughout the recent weeks. The government claims that their restrictions on the local media and freedoms to assemble were put in place only to protect the protestors. But these restrictions did the opposite—they turned the former peaceful demonstration into a violent demonstration.

A large group of stone-throwing protesters opposing the government bans congregated in Lahore became even more violent when word hit that opposition leader Nawaz Sharif had been detained by the government in another attempt to silence the people. The more restrictions the government placed on the Pakistani people the more people fought back and endangered lives. The restrictions were not made to protect the people they were made to protect the government’s power. But the Pakistani protestors are using the power of the people’s voice to override these restrictions and provoke change in their government.

Right before the sit-in Monday morning Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani announced all judges fired by the previous president would be reinstated and all arrested protestors would be set free. This demonstrates the power of the peoples voice in any democracy—even one that places heavy restrictions on the voice.

Although the political unrest in Pakistan has taken the government focus off the escalating pro—Taliban insurgency and Pakistan’s broken economy, this political turmoil shows a glimpse of a working democracy—the people spoke and the government listened. Although the government’s compromise may be short lived there is no question that the people’s voice was heard. Read more about the developing story.