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The Textbooks Of Pakistan

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Months ago, I came across an article written by Col Athale(retd) at I have read Athale’s writings earlier and I have always found myself disagreeing with most of what he has to say. This article too, had a conclusion in the title itself — Peace with Pakistan: Chasing a mirage. But it did raise a very important point which made a very lasting impression about what the future could hold with regard to our western neighbor.

Colonel Anil Athale, in his article, indirectly points out that it was under Zia-ul-haq that Pakistan took a stance of radical Islam as a state policy. As a part of Zia’s adoption of Wahhabism, a very conservative and almost radical form of Islam, textbooks were changed in schools to accommodate religion as the basis of the state’s existence. In effect, what Zia’s textbooks of social studies, speculated to be still in effect, are seeking is “to create practicing Muslims rather than democratic citizens” (2), to put it mildly.

The author of the article should also be credited to taking this up with Prof. Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a prominent Pakistani physicist who is probably more famous as Pakistan’s man of peace. Professor Nayyar was, at that time in 1998, working on what was being preached out of Pakistani schoolbooks. In 2003, Nayyar went on to author a paper that created ripples in the country. “The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan” (1) clearly stated that what Pakistan was offering to its school going children was a very flawed version of history, among other things and facts, which were conveniently changed to nurture hatred for any non-Muslim, specially Hindus.

Not only that, the report mentioned that in the post-Independence days of Pakistan, the textbooks offered a much “real” version of history and even had admiration for Hindus. Chapters on MK Gandhi were a part of the curriculum while teachings of Ramayana and Mahabharata were also mentioned. This was contrasting because this text existed after the bloody experience of partition that both the countries went through and two gory wars.

What happened after Zia took over was a very systematic conversion of Pakistan from a democratic state to a country that based everything on religion. There have been many papers published since Nayyar’s, authored by Pakistani nationals and others, who have confirmed and validated the claims made by Prof. Nayyar. The textbooks have time and again mentioned the western powers and India specifically as sworn enemies of the state while endorsing the involvement of military forces in day to day governance of the state.

In his paper titled: “Islam, Democracy and Citizenship Education: An Examination of the Social Studies Curriculum in Pakistan”, professor Iftekhar Ahmad of Long Island University raises another important point that could very well be another branch of the concerns raised by Colonel Anil Athale: Could it be that it is this model of civic and citizenship education that is now hurting Pakistan the most?

Athale continues to say that If the texts of these books were changed for the better, it would still take a good two decades before we see any change coming out. There is no doubt in my mind about the validity of his statement.

Just a day ago, the Indian diplomat, SM Krishna, on his visit to Islamabad raised the issue of anti-India speeches made by LeT chief there in Pakistan. There is no doubt that the hate rhetoric coming out on the streets when Hafiz Saeed gives his speech should be objectionable to people in the Indian Government. What worries me is that the Textbooks of Pakistan, with their unending tirade against India, do not appear to be bothering much to the Indian administration.

1. Islamisation of Curricula – A. H. Nayyar, link here.
2. Islam, Democracy and Citizenship Education – An Examination of the Social Studies Curriculum in Pakistan – Iftikhar Ahmad, link here.
3. Peace with Pakistan: Chasing a Mirage – Anil K Athale, link here.

Written by aditya kumar

July 16th, 2010 at 11:29 am

3 Responses to 'The Textbooks Of Pakistan'

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  1. The question you have raised is a valid one Adi but this issue was taken up by Indian gov. during the Vajpayee term only if you can remember them. But we very well know the fate of the peace process.
    But the question is not about teaching or preaching hatred against India it’s the motive of any gov. or anybody who comes to power in Pakistan.
    I fell India is a scapegoat for those who want to come to power in Pakistan they don’t talk about the welfare of the country coz they don’t know probably as how to provide the basic amenities to people. They made a separate country in 1947 but after that they really didn’t had any clue as to do what with it and still they are in the pursuit. As fear of India and hatred against us is a more lucrative option to offer to the under privileged people of Pakistan they do it. They really don’t know where the world has moved on, they still live in 1947.
    Question of building bridges; I don’t think it’s possible coz even we are thinking something like that we have to build bridges across time which is not possible.


    16 Jul 10 at 5:03 pm

  2. The real downfall of India started when the Khajuraho temples were built. The public display of eroticism is against Hinduism. The Khajuraho temples were built from 950 AD – 1150 AD. And shortly after that, Shahabuddin Ghori invaded India in 1175. The erotic sculptures in the Khajuraho temples need to be “broken” out and replaced with beautiful “paintings” of Hindu Gods. There is an argument that these foreign rulers saved India from Mongol invasion, but if Khajuraho temples were never built, even Mongols would have been defeated. Even Alexander the Great attacked India but failed, although western historians made another story out of it but Alexander was defeated. No one who won India ever returned back. Only those who were defeated returned back. For India to regain its old glory, Khajuraho temples and other temples where erotic sculptures/paintings are displayed, they need to go. Pornography is against Hinduism. One can have as much sex as one wants but adultery and pornography is against Hinduism. The erotic sculptures in the Khajuraho temples and other temples need to be “broken” out and replaced with beautiful “paintings” of Hindu Gods. And then India will rise and will remain at the top.


    21 Sep 10 at 12:32 pm

  3. hey adi, that was a nice piece… lets talk abt wahabism some day…. since am in “for it” category….. might be able to add a few correct and geniune pointers to ur analysis regardin it.
    as for pakistan… its a lost nation… or a cursed one….earlier i thot kashmir was abt revenge for bangladesh now i think ts abt to have an issue.. frankly speakin its tiresome… i have a quite a few relatives in pakistan… i asked a few of them wat they teach them regarding kashmir in history.. she was like.. that during the great divide, kashmir was to be on their side and india by ill means mad eit otherwise… i was like. yaar jo hai tumharey paas woh to sambhalta nahi hai… :) they have tied so many knots around their facts… religious ones mstly.. that they have lost their way round it…. now if zia did as wat u claim he did…. :) it wasnt really wat u call “wahabism” . of wat i know abt my religion.. and i know not only wat was taught to me by my teaches and parents…. as they say… real education is wat u learn after school else u know only as much as others do, ive been on my own soul searching truth finding quests for a while now… so if pakistan had only taken to its religion as a guide.. and islam deals with political issues well… infact its the only one to deal with each and every issue of life from life to death.. gosh one thing is leadin to another… my train of thots is goin rather fast and out of bounds now…. but just to mention i asked someone wat does their religion say abt divorce,, how to conduct a divorce…. she shrugged saying its jst paper and ink thing… i cudnt help giving a small smile of truimph … to myself ovcourse!! so had pakistan done wat we think they have been doing.. trust me… indians wud have been the happy lot, not to mention pakistan themselves.
    anywyaz… one of the things that actually brings tears to my eyes is the way islam is misinterpreted today.. i read a book…. journey to mecca.. dont recall the name of the author, was an american i think.. someone who converted to islam .. and what i gathered from the book is that he did not convert cos of muslims.. he converted cos of islam…. anyways.. my comment column is beggin to look like a blog and somehow i think.. ive like others up there picked up one aspect of ur blog , one on topmost of my mind perhaps and yakked abt it here,, dosnt mean rest didnt sit well, was quite well written and wel informed, do keep writin and i’ll keep commentin.. its easier to sit and comment as it is …. hopin to catch u live soon… BTW just for the records.. “islam” means peace.


    4 Oct 10 at 1:22 am

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