‘Pak text books foster hatred of Hindus’

Text books in Pakistani schools foster hatred and intolerance of minorities, the Hindus in particular, a US government report has said.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2011, 14:24 PM IST

Washington: Text books in Pakistani schools
foster hatred and intolerance of minorities, the Hindus in
particular and teachers view these groups "as enemies of
Islam," a US government report has said.

"Pakistan and Social Studies textbooks are rife with
negative comments regarding India and Great Britain, but
Hindus are often singled out for particular criticism in texts
and in interview responses," said the report.

This intolerance and prejudice also extends to other
minorities like the Christians and Ahmadis, who consider
themselves Muslims but are not considered so by the Pakistani
Constitution."

The Islamisation of text books, the Commission has said
began under the army rule of late dictator Zia-ul-Haq who
courted Islamists to support his rule.

Though in 2006 the government announced plans to reform
the curriculum, this has not been done under apparent pressure
of hardliners, the US Commission on International Religious
Freedom (USCIRF) said in a report made public on Wednesday.

The Commission in its 139-page report said that though
Pakistan was envisaged as a moderate state where minorities
would have full rights, but three wars with India and
appeasement of hardline clerics by successive weak governments
had led to steady radicalisation of the society.

The Chairman of the Commission Leonard Leo warned "the
teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent
religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow,
weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability,
and global security."

"Although an unbiased review of history would show that
Hindus and Muslims enjoyed centuries of harmonious
co-existence, Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists
and eternal enemies of Islam.

Hindu culture and society are portrayed as unjust and
cruel, while Islam is portrayed as just and peaceful," USCIRF
said in its report.

"This study -- the first-ever study of its kind --
documents how Pakistan`s public schools and privately-run
madrassas are not teaching tolerance but are exacerbating
religious differences," said Leonard Leo, US Commission on
International Religious Freedom chair.

According to the Minorities Concern of Pakistan (MCOP),
students are encountering problems because of their minority
status and faith.

They are forced to study from textbooks and curricula that
are biased against them and routinely face discrimination and
intimidation from Muslim students and teachers.

On May 28, 2010, for example, a dozen heavily armed men
attacked a Christian religious leader, Pastor Mubarak Masih,
and his family, it said.

USCIRF says that overall, Hindus are portrayed as enemies
of Pakistan and Muslims in Urdu and Social and Pakistan
Studies textbooks.

"Social and Pakistan Studies textbooks express hatred
towards India and Great Britain, but Hindus are often singled
out as particularly inferior or evil," it said.

According to the report, "Hindus are repeatedly described
as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and
society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam
delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts
portrayed as alien to the Hindu.

Thus, negative depictions of Hindus are manifested through
both historical distortions and the framing of concepts
through religious language that promotes the superiority of
Islam over Hinduism.

In the Hindu religion the men are divided into different
classes by their system of caste and creed, whereas in Islam
all the Muslims are equal and are brotherly with one another,
the report said adding the women are given a low status.

“Whereas Islam teaches to give due respect to the women,"
says one of the text books according to the report.

PTI