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March 17, 2013

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Questions about national curriculum

Criticism from abroad has been pouring in for some time on the curriculum taught in our schools, colleges and universities. It is claimed that Pakistani educational institutions teach hatred, outdated concepts and history through their textbooks. The alleged hate content is said to be mostly related to the time of partition in 1947 when more than a million Muslims were slaughtered while on their way to Pakistan. Similarly, it is claimed that Pakistani schools teach anti-Western content in textbooks.
Let us for a moment forget about what the Pakistani textbooks teach about the partition.
The US website Global security.org reports the 1947 events objectively: “Nobody expected the kind of population exchange that took place once London signaled its intention to leave its Indian Empire in the hands of the two successor states. What followed was “ethnic cleansing” - a term that was to gain currency later in the 20th century. The Sikh political leaders made it clear that, though they had demanded partition, they would not tolerate a division of the Punjab that went against the interests of their community. But there was in fact no possible division of the Punjab that could prevent the division of the Sikhs and the loss of their rich agricultural land and of numerous shrines they considered sacred.
The Sikh leaders made it clear, that they anticipated an exchange of population on both sides of the border between the West and East Punjab. Nor did the Sikh leaders hide the fact that they intended to bring this about by violent means. This area of India had provided a substantial and heavily Sikh component to the British armed forces in World War II. Violent attacks on the Muslim population in East Punjab would force them to migrate west, so that the Sikh population in West Punjab would migrate east to replace them and take their lands and property in exchange for what they would lose in the west.
“The Sikhs, their leading political organization, the

Akali Dal, and its leaders, particularly Master Tara Singh and Giani Kartar Singh, have come in for a very great share of the blame for the mass migrations and violence that occurred in the Punjab. The Sikh started systematic attacks on Muslims in various parts of Punjab. In Eastern Punjab and the adjoining Sikh princely states (particularly Patiala) the violence was marked by the prominent role of Sikh jathas (bands of 20 to 600 men); the police and the army remained rather passive. The rulers of some states of Punjab (Patiala, Kapurthala and others) not only allowed the marauding Sikh bands to use their territories as sanctuaries but also beefed up their strength by encouraging their own state troops to join in the killing sprees.”
This is how most world historians and books have described the events of 1947.
The cataclysmic events also had a reaction in Pakistan, where some non-Muslims were killed in retaliation. One may therefore ask should the successive generations of Pakistanis not learn how the partition took place? How many people were killed during the migration? Who perpetuated the killings? Is there any country in the world that does not teach its history to its students? How many countries have changed their curricula in the face of criticism from abroad?
The charge that such textbooks that carry the history of the partition are fueling intolerance and supporting the cause of the Taliban is utterly false.
Taliban and its related terrorism is the product of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the subsequent civil war and has nothing to do with the partition of 1947.
The Pakistani children of today have the right to learn the truth about the partition as their parents did. The alleged historical faults in textbooks are in fact historical truths.

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