Edwards cancels Pakistan trip
The U.S. campaign abroad has altered plans for President of the College Emeritus Robert Edwards, who had planned to spend three weeks working in Pakistan. The trip was part of his ongoing effort to aid the development of an undergraduate liberal arts education program at the Aga Khan University, a medical and nursing school in Karachi, Pakistan.
"I'm supposed to be there right now, actually," Edwards said.
The purpose of the trip, he explained, was to have a broad series of
conversations with educational, political, and business leaders around
the country, to discuss the understanding and implications of developing
a broader liberal arts program, a type not typically found in Pakistan.
Edwards intends to reschedule the trip for the future. In the meantime, he will attend the board's meeting in Paris the second week of November, and he will continue related work here. He is in regular contact with the university, and hopes to meet with Pakistani academics and graduate students within the U.S.
Edwards, who once lived in Pakistan for four years, has long been involved in work for the university. He had previously been a trustee of the school, and decided to rejoin the board during his last year at Bowdoin in preparation for his retirement.
Edwards explained that, despite Karachi's distance from the Afghanistan border in northwest Pakistan, the city still is significantly affected by the events. The hospital at the university, for example, has fielded the impact of the refugees and the injured, as it has done for years.
Edwards reaffirmed his commitment to the work. "This university
really has extraordinarily high ambitions, which is to educate a leadership
cadre rather in the way in which places like Bowdoin have done for a couple
of hundred years in this country. So I won't abandon it, although the
ease with which one is going to be able to move in and out of Pakistan
is another question," he said.
On the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, he said, "I must say I watch events with a very heavy heart. I'm not absolutely clear what the long-term goals are of this bombing campaign. The evident need in so much of the Islamic world is for governments that can meet the needs of their people.
"Terrorism lives in places where there is terrible resentment, and that resentment is usually caused by local conditions. So the great question is how you can create the conditions where terrorism doesn't seem like the easy option it now is in many parts of the world.
"There's no question in my mind that you've got to root out terrorism, but I have tended to see that very substantially as a matter of police work, economic activities, detection, some limited violence. I worry about broad-scale bombing campaigns, and I would be particularly troubled and very disturbed if we were to broaden that to Iraq or another country."