Citing stark examples from school curriculum, a prominent Islamabad-based scholar has said that extremely religious and anti-India views fed into children in schools reinforced the cycle of extremism that showed no signs of receding in
Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist and prominent commentator on current issues,
showed the examples at a lively seminar held in the King's
College on the role of education in combating terrorism, organised by the Democracy
The examples showed by Hoodbhoy included images and text from a primer that mentioned the Urdu equivalent of A as Allah, B as bandook, Te astakrao, J as jehad, H as hijab, Kh as khanjar and Ze as zunoob. Hoodbhoy, whose presentation title was 'How education fuels terrorism in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan', also showed a college which is seen as going up in flames, containing images of things considered sinful: kites, guitar, satellite TV, carrom board, chess, wine bottles and harmonium. Examples cited by Hoodbhoy from another curriculum document for Class V students included tasks such as discussion on: 'Understand Hindu-Muslim differences and the resultant need for Pakistan', 'India's evil designs against Pakistan', 'Make speeches on shehadat and jehad'.
"There has been a sea change in
in the last six decades. The poison put into education by Gen Zia-ul-Haq was
not changed by subsequent regimes. Attitudes have changed over the years, makes
my country alien to me," Hoodbhoy said. Recalling his growing up years in Pakistan , he said the city
was home to Hindus, Parsis and Christians: "They are all gone. The same is
true of much of Karachi .
Minorities have no place in Pakistan
today," he said. He held madarsas partly responsible for the situation,
and regretted that efforts initiated during the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf
to reform them did not go far. After the 2007 Lal Masjid incident, liberal
voices were also less welcome in Pakistan ’s 's news media, he said. Pakistan
"Every attempt at education reform has failed to remove the hate material in curriculum, but there is a minority that wants change. The situation will remain in free fall, until something drastic is done to change the situation," he said. Stressing the need for pluralism and secularism in education, former Indian diplomat G Parthasarathy said tensions began when education did not foster respect for diversity and for other religions. There was more to terrorism than education, because some of the recent perpetrators were well educated, he said.
"The most important part of education is that diversity should be cherished, that unity does not mean uniformity," Hoodbhoy added. Other speakers on the occasion included King's College experts Professor Jack Spence from the Department of War Studies and Shiraz Maher from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.