Pak text books foster hatred of Hindus: US Commission

Pak text books foster hatred of Hindus: US Commission

"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 today.

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.

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