“It takes 3 days to win a battle, and 3 to 30 years to win peace”. The journey has well begun.
IRSHAD SALIM — I received an email from a Pakistani professional based in Malaysia with a note from a constructor/builder and pictures that a state-of-the-art design and construction work was carried out by Pakistan army post-terror sweep in Mohmand Agency. The note (authenticated) is from Sher Afzal, CEO Mohmand Builders– one of the subcontractors on the project.
The site selection, setback, landscape, building architecture, space planning and ‘green construction’ functionalities of the project to me appear equal to many such overseas. The icing on the cake (I checked out) is: local participation, affirmative steps taken, other social responsibility attributes invoked, fast-track (1 year) construction undertaken, and good implementation of quality control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA), etc. All have been diligently applied for full performance.
A set of similar (interior) pictures of the newly built school was first shared with me on WhatsApp several months back. It had taken me aback then also– some of us are and have been in this field, and therefore the I’s and T’s of this exercise seem to have been dotted and slashed well– a double-decker by international standards in my opinion– particularly in the US.
The Mohmand project is as good as the Jeddah Dependents School (JDS) project (3 campuses) on which I was hired as special consultant. The Kingdom project administered by Saudi National Guard (SANG) with the US Army Corp of Engineers – OPM set a new standard in the Kingdom. It seems the Mohmand project has also set a similar standard in Pakistan– as a matter of fact even more, given the constraints and the cost vs. functionalities ratio (value analysis).
Delivering an institutional structure (like this one) takes several years– schools play the most vital role in society is a non-negotiable edifice. Therefore, schools must be above par in public policy initiatives is a conventional wisdom followed worldwide. We’re getting there it seems so. These pics show.
Like they say (metaphorically), “It takes 3 days to win a battle, and anywhere from 3 to 30 years to win peace”. The journey has well begun.
Here’s the note from Afzal. I selected some of the pics using contextual method as I felt these stand out.
“It was in December 2007 that I last visited my native town, Dawezai, Safi Tehsil upper Mohmand. Fear, despondency and helplessness was all what I found there. Today, after around 12 years I went to see my village and was surprised to see that the reign of terror is no more.
What a comfortable drive it was from Peshawar to my ancestral Hujra in Dawezai. The newly constructed road, the beautiful tunnel and booming economic activity all along was a treat to see.
A school friend of mine called from adjacent village Mamad Ghat and asked me to visit him. Right at the notorious Mamad Ghat chowk, to my surprise, I found a huge area walled with numerous state of the art buildings standing tall in the middle– behind the wall.
I asked my cousin accompanying me as to what it is? He said, “It’s Cadet College”. I couldn’t resist after seeing its grand outlook and asked my cousin, “Can I see it from inside”. He said let’s ask from the FC soldier standing. Very politely the soldier said, “Sir it is made for you and you are most welcome”. There I entered a campus which I haven’t seen in my life.
Being in the construction industry and having worked both inside and outside Pakistan, I am yet to see an excellent example of construction work.
To my surprise, my cousin told me that it has been completed in less than a year by the Pakistan Army. I am short of words here to tell how marvelous the various components of the college were: well equipped laboratories, computer rooms, class rooms, fully loaded library, auditorium, hostels, dinning halls, houses for teachers and state of the art sports facilities.
A monument depicting the patronage of tribal elders and the Army to education was indicative of a national resolve behind the thinking, “Peace through Education”.
It was evident that complete heart and soul has been put into design, construction and furnishing of this state of the art facility. I can bet for sure that nothing better than this exists in any settled area of Pakistan. It was beyond my imagination.”
Sher Afzal CEO Mohmand Builders
This Pakistan army’s initiative is a flagship project in my opinion: How to turnaround a terrorists’ happy hunting ground into a haven for knowledge and nation-building without ‘trillions of dollars’ of spending is a much needed exercise others could follow. This is in itself a geometric leap in cost versus functionality outlay on as one side of the coin and defense spending as other side of the coin– albeit soft costs versus hard dollar costs, in project terms.
I’ll be sharing this post with some of my friends and professionals overseas and in Pakistan. Will update.
(The author is a business consultant, analyst, and Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes and PKonweb; He’s presently based in Islamabad)