Deficiency of “Interfaith-harmony” lessons in the text books of Pakistan

by Javed Ali Kalhoro, Pakistan Telexision News(Pakistan)



There is no doubt that the world is transforming itself from being a hard liner to soft liner, from giant military power to giant economic power. Every nation across the globe are in the race to achieve their economic goals in order serve to their people and think beyond an individual interest to collective interests. This is the reason that majority of the countries are somehow rolling back their militaries from different bases in Asia, Middle East and Africa. Within this factor, when the countries achieve their economic targets, they rather work on human development and helping other countries to find their ways towards achieving such goals. I believe, South Korea is one of the great examples. On contrary, there are some of the nations which are still detained in their socio-religious taboos in order to serve their own political interests. Such interests are not collective but individual. Pakistan, in this frame, appears to be as one of the examples.

A country of more than two hundred million populations, having majoring of Muslims and mixture of “minorities” which includes Hindus, Christian and Ahmedis, is still struggling to break such socio-religious taboos. The major portion of the society is said to be secular, governed by a bunch of Muslims groups which have their strong influence in the policy making of the country. Such groups are present in the parliament, decision making offices and most of all, in the religious seminaries, which hold their negative influence in the social fabric of Pakistan. Similarly, the religious groups are strong enough to place their own sort of ideologies into the textbooks at the public schools in order to produce a generation that shall obey and follow their self-designed religion. Such textbooks or the content of the textbooks spread nothing-but a poison into the young minds.

Like Islam, every religion believes in the peace and harmony among the humans and it teaches to respect the Universe, the real creation of God. Not a single religion teaches to hate or ignorance against any other religion or community. It is the human that produce such ideology and try to fit it into other minds. Religion does not separate human beings, it is the human that separate from each other and create a self-identity by tagging him/her-self with a particular religion. Such actions are considered to be political actions, in case of Pakistan, it the political Islam, which is being governed by some religious groups who are claimed to be Muslims.

As discussed earlier, textbooks in any country, represent the actual identity of the nation. In the case of Pakistan, the national curriculum or the textbooks do represent the actual face of the country. Most of the scholars believe that the textbooks representation in Pakistan is some-how based on the hatred content. In fact, it is hard to deny the fact that two of subjects, being taught in Pakistan, have been considered as highly controversial with regard to the hatred content. 1) Pakistan Studies and 2) Islamiyat. The Pakistan studies subject mostly discuss about the history of Indian Sub-Continent along with Pre and Post situation of the creation of Pakistan. The subject emphasis that the Muslims at the western side of India were highly dominated by Hindus of eastern side of India. This resulted into the creation of Pakistan. However, the history is entirely different. But such content produces hatred feelings among the Pakistan youth against India. On the other hand, the subject hold India and some other countries responsible for the security issues in Pakistan. Moreover, the subject Islamiyat was aimed at producing a good young Muslim instead of producing a good young Human. The subject places more emphasis on the historical wars in order to justify a “pertained” fact that Muslims have always been targeted by the western powers. At certain levels in Islamiyat textbooks, the content also try to justify holy war against non-believers or non-Muslims. On contrary, none of the subjects say a single sentence about the “interfaith harmony” in any textbook.

Peace is the prime desire of every human being. Peace is the only ultimate chance to sort out all issues which are produced through act of violence. But, placing an emphasis or promoting one’s ideology can result into radicalization in the society. Pakistan, in this case, witnesses the same ideological disorder that affects its social norms. Therefore, the country experiences less tolerance due to its deficiency of harmony and interfaith lesson in its curriculum. Similarly, the creator of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his first ever speech for the “Education policy Meeting” held in late November to early December of the same year when Pakistan was created (1947) emphasis on scientific education than religious education. He believed that if the nation pursues for religious inclination into the curriculum, it may not proceed further to compete with other giant economic powers in the world. Since then, the decision makers in Pakistan have been ignorant to the philosophy of their own leader.

I recently conducted a survey to determine whether the education system in Pakistan promotes interfaith harmony among all religions. The result appears to be surprising. The text books carry only 4% of content on Peace and 3% content on interfaith. On contrary, the same text books carry more than 23% of the content on fight against non-believers. Such results show the possibility of tendency of radicalism among the curriculum policy makers. This shows, how the policy makers are intending to drive the country! Meanwhile, there have been tremendous response from various parts of academia who have been stressing upon discouraging such content that departs the youth into different frames and every frame carries a different mark. Such situation produces more possibility of hatred within the society that may lead to extremism. Therefore, there is a dire need of steering the society towards peace and interfaith harmony with the help of inclusion of peace lessons than the war lessons. In this regard, there has been a National Action Plan, designed by the Pakistan military and other relevant stake holders to identify such issues within the society that are harming the liberal image of Pakistan. The faults in our textbooks is one the issues that needs to be addressed on emergency basis.

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