Pak textbooks focus on conspiracy theories on 1971 war

Last Updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 15:45

Islamabad: Nearly four decades after the
1971 war, Pakistani school textbooks continue to focus on
conspiracy theories involving India, Russia and the US
regarding the creation of Bangladesh while glossing over the
Pakistan Army`s atrocities in the erstwhile East Pakistan.

While the findings of Pakistan`s Hamood-ur-Rehman
Commission on the 1971 Indo-Pak war were never made public,
students at the Matric and Intermediate levels of school
(Classes nine to 12) "are being taught conspiracy theories and
a factually incorrect version of history", according to an
article on the website of the Dawn newspaper.

The Pakistan Studies textbook for Classes nine and 10
fails to mention the role of late premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto
or the Pakistan People`s Party in its section on the 1971 war
and lists the "role of Hindu teachers" and "international
conspiracies" among the reasons for the "Fall of East
Pakistan".

"A large number of Hindu teachers were teaching in the
educational institutions in East Pakistan. They produced such
literature which created negative thinking in the minds of
Bengalis against the people of West Pakistan," the textbook
states.

The section on "international conspiracies" states:
"About 10 million Hindus were living in East Pakistan. India
stood at the back of these Hindus to protect their interests.
India wanted to separate East Pakistan to strengthen the
economic position of the Hindus.

"Many Hindus acted as spies for India. Russia was
against Pakistan because Pakistan had allowed America to
establish military bases in Pakistan."

"On the other hand, America also wanted separation of
East Pakistan. Under the circumstances Russia openly supported
India`s aggression against Pakistan."

The article noted that Pakistani historians and
academics "have long decried the white-washing of the state
curriculum" and it was "appalling" that the government is "yet
to make changes in the syllabi being taught to Pakistan`s
future generation".

While the Pakistan Studies textbooks for Classes 10
and 11 mention the role of the Mukti Bahani and India’s
support for the group, they are an "incorrect version of the
story behind the creation of Bangladesh", the report said.

Both textbooks make no mention "of the documented
atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army which includes
rapes, targeted killings against the Mukti Bahini and the
genocide of the Bengali population”. The textbooks fail to mention the number of civilian
deaths in East Pakistan in the period leading up to the
creation of Bangladesh.

Nor do they "mention Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto`s inflexible
stand on sharing power with Mujib-ur-Rehman’s Awami League",
the report said.

Abbas Hussain, director of the Teachers Development
Centre, described this version of history "a farce".
"We give our children hocus pocus in textbooks."

Asked how teachers feel about teaching students such
material, Hussain replied: "Most teachers have classroom
schizophrenia, where the children and teachers are in a sort
of conspiracy that there is a real world outside the classroom
and there is a fictitious world in the classroom and you jolly
well obey that!"

Noted academic Pervez Hoodbhoy said: "Forty years
later, Bangladesh has many disputes with India but it shows
not the slightest inclination to reintegrate with Pakistan.

"If Pakistan`s school books actually taught honest
history, they would be explaining why East Pakistanis felt
exploited and fought for their independence. Instead, our
children are taught cock-and-bull conspiracy nonsense."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 15:45

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