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Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) reintroducing the doctrinaire Islamist content in textbooks

1 November 2014

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Editorial, Daily Times, November 01, 2014

Editorial: Rewriting textbooks

Oblivious of the world’s progress, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government appears to insist on taking society backwards by reintroducing the doctrinaire Islamist items in textbooks that Ziaul Haq fused into the national curriculum. Since the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) joined the coalition government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in KP last year, education has been at the centre of its agenda to assert its conservative dogmatic mindset. Now it seems it has managed to implement its project, as KP school textbooks will now include jihad, eliminate pictures of unveiled women, and delineate a strong anti-India narrative. They have gone as far as depicting the 1971 parting of East Pakistan as an Indian conspiracy. What results will such revisionism entail should not surprise us as the country is already suffering terrorism because of this very proselytization that has been poisoning the minds of generations for four decades now. JI is not even ready to spare natural science subjects such as physics and chemistry, regarding which they want to ‘Islamise’ such empirical sources of knowledge. It was the previous secular provincial government of ANP that eliminated many extremist and jingoistic ideas from the syllabi and replace them with relatively tolerant and progressive texts.

However disappointing these new changes may be, one can expect no better from JI whose very ideological base lies in the fundamentalist philosophy of conservatism, but the question arises where is the moderate PTI in this entire tantrum when one would expect it to be at the forefront of resistance to such backward looking changes? Whether it is complicit or helpless, its pregnant silence puts a big question mark on its so-called ‘change’ slogan. If this is what Imran Khan meant by his mantra, the damage PTI could do to national education in case his party comes to power is simply unimaginable. By its collaboration with JI’s agenda, the PTI is definitely laying down the groundwork for generations to come with a poisoned mindset that will never enable them to make any significant progress in today’s world. Meanwhile Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif too seems to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick as his orders to the Higher Education Commission to amend the curricula in a more modern, enlightened direction might not be as fruitful as he thinks. Introducing ideas like constitutional democracy at the higher level will not prove effective as by that time, the student’s mind will already have been indoctrinated by antediluvian confusion. If the prime minister intends to revolutionise the curriculum with reformist and enlightened ideas, this needs to be implemented from the school level and not the other way around.


The above editorial in Daily Times is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use.