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Will Urdu Sesame Street in Pakistan prevent future extremism?

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Can the benevolent propaganda of Sesame Street prevent future terrorism? That's the question being asked as USAID spends twenty-million dollars to find out. The iconic, whimsical puppets will be filming in Pakistan this summer, and begin broadcasting in autumn, teaching kids in Urdu the utopian values they have come to be known for. A six-year-old, pigtailed Muppet named Rani, a peasant farmer's daughter, will bid to become the Pakastani version of Elmo, except that Elmo will be appearing too, albeit with some local flavor.

A heartening feature of the Urdu Sesame Street will be its feminist proclivities, reinforcing gender equality and inclusion for kids growing up in an often intolerant environment. How the U.S.'s $1.5 billion in annual aid to Pakistan is being distributed is often called into question, but the positive energy that Big Bird radiates would be well-accounted for.

If the show can have an overall salubrious effect on the malleable psyches of the young, then it's probably money well spent. And more kids will probably relate to the new village setting than the gritty, cheerful streets of the original. Faizaan Peerzada, the head of a Pakistani theater group, said "This is a very serious business, the education of the children of Pakistan at a critical time."

The show will be made available throughout the country, including remote villages. There will even be mobile TV vans that bring the show to areas lacking electricity. If the Urdu-speaking Sesame Street can use the same sensitive hand that was employed in dealing with Mr. Hooper's death, then I believe it will redound to the future pacifist fortunes of the country.