Pakistan’s historical narrative and its education system

June 28, 2010

jinnah flagManan Ahmed at Chapati Mystery has a great post linking Faisal Shahzad, the failed Times Square bomber,  Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani woman convicted and jailed in the United States, and Mohammad bin Qasim, who first brought Islam to South Asia by conquering Sind in the 8th century.

The common thread is the historical narrative Pakistan has created for itself; and Shahzad’s own explicit reference to bin Qasim in a 2006 email to friends  published last month.  

“17 year old Mohammad bin Qasam attacked the Sub-continent Pak-o-Hind and defeated infidel ruler Raja Dahir because there came to him news of a Muslim women who was raped!!! and today our beloved Prophet (Katimun Nabieen Mohammad al-Ameen) PBUH has been disrespected and disgraced in the whole world and we just sit and watch with shame and sorrow and most of us don’t even care,” reads the email published by the New York Times.

According to Manan Ahmed, this view of bin Qasim – that he invaded then Hindu-ruled Sind in defence of a Muslim woman – has found itself a symbolic torchbearer in Aafia Siddiqui, a Muslim woman seen as unfairly convicted by American “infidels”.  Not only had she been taken up as a rallying cry by religious parties and not only had politicians pledged to fight her case, her sister, Fauzia, had been quoted as saying “we are waiting for a Muhammad bin Qasim to come and rescue Aafiya.”

“This particular brand of national machismo projected onto a woman’s body is neither new nor unique, yet it is a potent mixture in the oppressive, patriarchal Pakistani middle class. The mullahs can safely rage about the nation’s daughter, and the street urchins can eagerly vow to invade Manhattan,” he writes.

“Yet, until we dismantle the whole edifice underpinning this construction, there is little one can do to fight the narrative. Aafiya Siddiqui may well have caught the nation’s attention without the literary linkage to Pakistan’s originary past – her story is fabulous enough. But it is that very link which sustains it now, gives it immediate historical resonance and, most importantly, predicts the future – an armed struggle to free Aafiya. Such is the power of historical memory, such is the reach of state-sanctioned hegemonic accounts. And this is exactly why we need new histories of Pakistan.”

There’s more.  In an earlier post, Manan Ahmed assesses how Pakistan’s own view of bin Qasim changed after the loss of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in 1971, which deprived it of its original justification as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. To make up for the defeat, and find a reason to bind its different ethnic groups together, it stressed its much older Islamic heritage.

“From the mid 1970s, a dominant theme of unification and Islam arose in all the discourse of the state. Even the secularist (Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto, sought to rally the people around the twin green flags (Pakistan and Islam),” he writes.  “A particular history of the nation was disseminated in official discourse, school textbooks, nationalist novels, and public commemorations to explain the ancestral and ideological formation of the citizenry.”

 ”That this was a practice started after 1971 is clear when one examines school textbooks from the 50s and 60s. In the higher grades, those textbooks mention Hindus in a neutral tone. In fact, they were critical of Muhammad b. Qasim. Under Zia, the process of “Islamization” eliminated all doubts from the curriculum. As a result, MbQ became the first model citizen of the state of Pakistan. The compulsory textbook for 9th & 10th grade proclaimed:

“Pakistan came to be established for the first time when the Arabs under Muhammad bin Qasim occupied Sindh and Multan in the early years of the eighth century, and established Muslim rule in this part of the South Asian sub-continent. Pakistan under the Arabs comprised the Lower Indus valley.   For the first time the people of Sindh were introduced to Islam, its political system and way of government. The people here had seen only the atrocities of the Hindu rajas … the people of Sindh were so much impressed by the benevolence of Muslims that they regarded Muhammad bin Qasim as their savior.”
Every country has a skewed historical narrative – in line with the George Orwell imperative that “who controls the past controls the future”. 
 
As a child growing up in Scotland, I thought for many years that world history began and ended with the Jacobite rebellions against the English. Following the defeat of the Highlanders’ dream of independence at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, our teachers moved swiftly on to the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and the beginning of the British Indian empire, where Scots – deprived of independence and opportunities at home – found money and power overseas.
 
India, and particularly the Hindu right, romanticises the 1857 sepoy revolt against British rule as the First War of Independence, often without acknowledging that it was fought largely in the name of the last Moghul emperor. U.S. history of its civil war tends to define it, at least in the popular imagination, as purely a battle against slavery – arguably creating a narrative that wars are about good versus evil that prevails to this day.
 
So Pakistan is not alone in writing its history in a way which it hopes will allow it to survive and thrive as a nation. The question is not really which country’s history is correct – and that will always be a subjective judgment – but which serves it best.  An expedient narrative which unites the people in the short-term is not necessarily one which is useful in the long term – particularly if it encourages your own people to turn to Islamist militancy against the state itself.
 
This Brookings Institute report on the education system in Pakistan (pdf)  makes a good case for the problems of the historical narrative in Pakistan. Questioning the view that the main problem is the plethora of Islamist madrasas, it argues nonetheless that education, rather than poverty, is a primary driver in encouraging militancy.
 
“The history of education in Pakistan is in many ways a textbook example of how educational processes and structures can shape conflict dynamics. Historically, education in Pakistan has been used as a tool by successive regimes in pursuing narrow political ends,” it says.
 
“Deriving largely from General Zia’s political objective of Islamization, but building on a long legacy of using the education system to inculcate fidelity to Pakistan, the content of curricula and textbooks from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s heavily promoted an ‘ideology of Pakistan’, described by scholars as a ‘national narrative’ of Pakistan as an Islamic state under threat from a hostile India. In the words of one prominent education scholar, ’1959 may have been the last time an education policy was driven by education, not by politics. After 1965, education, patriotism, nationalism and dogma became synonymous.’”
 
“In these curricula and textbooks, historical facts are altered and whole epochs are omitted, all with the aim of securing a strong national identity and allegiance to the state. Hatred toward India and Hindus in particular is prominent in the curricula and textbooks used across schools today.”
 
Do please read the whole report before leaping to judgment. We all of us have our historical skeletons. And before commenting, “let he who be without sin cast the first stone”.  Or in more modern parlance – since we’ve had a run of bad comments recently - destructive, bigoted, irrelevant or simply overly long comments will be deleted.
 
 
56 comments

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That everybody else does it does not make it right. And in cases where such historical revisionism can drive inter and intra-state conflict, the world should be especially weary.

Would be so tolerant if say the Germans had such a cavalier attitude to re-writing their history from half a century ago?

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

That Brookings report is quite an eye-opener. Thanks for that.

It’s quite damning too.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Pakistan is not alone in twisting history to suit its goals. Emperor Constantine is supposed to have twisted a lot of things in the original Bible to suit his political purposes, which formed the basis for Christianity to spread across Europe. Original Christianity is not supposed to advocated converting others. Many tyrants over centuries have had history distorted to glorify themselves. Even in India, there are Hindutva clans that rely on the text written by one Gowalikar who presents a bizarre and warped origin for the Aryans. One will seldom find any mention of Pindaris and the practice of Thuggee in Indian history books.

Unfortunately, what was done in Pakistan in the 1970s and beyond have brought an entire generation of new Pakistanis with deep seated and unshakeable belief that they are being victimized by the non-Islamic world. More people will turn to the mosques and Madrasas for solace as Pakistan plunges into more anarchy, chaos, terrorism, poverty, lack of resources, unemployment and lack of justice. All this is unnecessary. Had Pakistani leaders put in their efforts towards nation building the same way as they did for their Islamic bomb, Pakistan could be one of the highly advanced nations in the world by now. Hatred blinds people and shapes their destiny. Pakistan does have very talented people. It all has been laid waste by warped beliefs and attitude.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

To find out the extent of distortion of history in Pakistani schools, all one needs to do is, interact with a few Pakistanis and it becomes quite clear within no time.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

KPSingh is absolutely right; the era of 70’s led to a total change of mindset for Pakistanis, and their beliefs, let them be religious, political or any other, all were altered purposely to cultivate hate among the people especially against India and Hindus. This is a sad reality and it is the duty of the government to reconsider the syllabus implemented in our schools and delete the inappropriate and hate mongering text.

Posted by SZaman88 | Report as abusive

These things take time both ways. Even if the government removed all hate mongering text, it would take few generations to forget it. Kasab – 26/11 butcher was not educated yet learnt to hate India and assume Indians/Hindus are responsible for all of Pakistan’s problems. Where did he learn this from?
What I find hopeful is the fact that enemy no 1 for most Pakistanis has changed from India to US.

Posted by nvrforgetmbai | Report as abusive

Wish I had time to read that long report. Unless it has been mentioned already read this report:

http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/reporton/S tate%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

The Subtle Subversion:
The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan

Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics

Editors: A. H. Nayyar and Ahmad Salim
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY INSTITUTE
Islamabad

This report mentions the hate material and other distortions taught in govt schools in Pakistan (not just Madrasas.

Probably Pakistanis can tell us if there is some change since Zia, if not who is the hindrance (Thanks SZaman88!).

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Any future monetary aid to Pakistan should be tied to complete education and history reform in Pakistan.

I am suprised that the “economic hitmen” have gained much land, minerals and industries from Pakistan, but have not yet demanded the educational system for the billions of loans given to Pakistan.

Monetary policy is an extremely powerful tool that needs to be used to reform Pakistan to bring it to the modern age. Currently, it seems that people are living a lie about their history and their existence.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

Thanks for posting the link Rajeev. Intriguing!

I’d say that if they acknowledge the fact-twisting and hate-mongering stuff, they should hurry up in fixing it. Considering it was introduced in 1970s, its been already 40 good years of misguiding their children.

If they delay any further, all those people who completed their studies before such text was introduced would get retired thus leaving no one on their education revision panels who would have not gone through the false propaganda material in the first place. Then it would be too hard for them to separate facts from “facts” they themselves were taught.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Now that it is beginning to be openly believed that the historical narrative and education system of Pakistan is intentionally screwed up Pakistan itself, what can be done by Pakistan.

That is not a small issue. Mohammad bin Qasam et al are so dear to Pakistanis, and explain what Pakistan is all about. Any change in that will be unacceptable and amounts to telling Pakistanis (students) that Pakistan has been intentionally lying all along. I don’t now how they deal with that.

Moreover, SDPI report has been published by Pakistani scholars much earlier and no one in Pakistan gives a damn except the usual claims that reports is the work of infidels.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Seth

There are lot of good guys/journalists who talk straight and know what it takes to clean Pakistan up. No one–yes NO ONE—gives attention to them and/or their voices are drowned by people indulging in useless comical chest trumpery and by people whose pleasure lies in distorting the issues that are so sensitive; we saw an example recently of one of those “e-journalist”. A sane person cannot see the purpose of all this. WHY?

We have seen distortions in India where Aurangzeb has been praised and Bhaghat Singh has been called a terrorist. Wow! This has been corrected (i think so). This is due to some agenda people have and due to shear ignorance in rare cases.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

I meant: There are lot of good guys/journalists IN PAKISTAN who talk straight and know what it takes to clean Pakistan.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

To be fair, and I should probably have mentioned this in the original post, the Faisal Shahzad email does not specifically refer to India, or even to Kashmir, which I thought was interesting. Rather he talks about political grievances “in Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and elsewhere…”

You can find a more readable version of his email than the one published in the NYT here:

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/must-r ead/email-faisal-shahzad-friends-februar y-25-2006

Also, I did not really want to start a discussion about how Pakistan, as some posters argue, is the only country to get its history wrong. We all get our history wrong – sometimes because of the basic survival instincts of a defeated nation (maybe Pakistan post 1971?), and sometimes in a quest for political power (maybe the history of Ayodhya?).

The more interesting question, and one I have asked before on this blog, is whether India and Pakistan need to make peace on their history before they make peace in the present; or whether it’s possible to walk away from history.

Myra

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Rightly said Rajeev! Although I don’t recall any negative portrayal of Bhagat Singh, I remember reading mixed things about Aurangzeb.

BTW, I’m reading this book titled “Chasing a Mirage” by Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani Canadian. The author talks of politicization of Islam as the root of “evil” that ails the followers of the faith. I’m half way through the book and I like his narrative so far.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

“The more interesting question, and one I have asked before on this blog, is whether India and Pakistan need to make peace on their history before they make peace in the present; or whether it’s possible to walk away from history.”

Governing people of the two counties can certainly make a temporary truce ignoring the history for sure. But what happens when 20-50 years down the line, new breed of people comes forward that has been “fed” the same debatable accounts of history that this present generation would choose to ignore for the sake of peace. In that light, it does not seem possible to successfully move on w/o agreeing upon the history being taught at present.

Counter question would be, what part India is supposed to forget/ignore to make us achieve the much-needed peace and friendship? Are we talking about post-independence or pre-independence era? Before partition, the question was not about India-Pakistan, it was more about foreign invaders (initially) and local inhabitants.

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

@Seth

You said:

“Governing people of the two counties can certainly make a temporary truce ignoring the history for sure. But what happens when 20-50 years down the line, new breed of people comes forward that has been “fed” the same debatable accounts of history that this present generation would choose to ignore for the sake of peace.”

By that logic, the people of both countries would need to use the space created by any temporary truce between their governments to find common ground on history. How would you do that?

“Are we talking about post-independence or pre-independence era?”

Both. Definitely both. But where do you start? With 1971? Or much, much earlier? Which would yield the more positive results?

Myra

Posted by Myra.MacDonald | Report as abusive

Some caching issues, my post got lost!?

Posted by Seth | Report as abusive

Nothing offending in this post, why doesn’t it go through?

—————————————————-

@Myra

“By that logic, the people of both countries would need to use the space created by any temporary truce between their governments to find common ground on history. How would you do that?

>> If such a temporary truce can come to fruition and both countries have amicable relations (touch wood!), I’d certainly like to see our governments creating a joint panel that would come up with common curriculum for history books that would be taught in both countries. This is something we all can and should sacrifice for the sake of peace. I’m sure children may afford to learn certain extra stuff as long as it does not cause animosity towards people of any race or religion. Believe it or not, we’re already taught stories from Islam along with Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, and Jainism.

“Both. Definitely both. But where do you start? With 1971? Or much, much earlier? Which would yield the more positive results?”

If that’s the case, it must start from Indus-Valley civilization (assuming there is no debate on stone age etc. :)). The point I’m trying to make is that an assessment should also be made about how much of “false” or debatable material is there because of genuine political differences and how much is the result of religious supremacy one way or other.

But one thing, I’m sure everybody would agree here is that unless we focus on draining the swamps now, generations may end up spending energies on killing mosquitoes.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

@Myra

“By that logic, the people of both countries would need to use the space created by any temporary truce between their governments to find common ground on history. How would you do that?

>> If such a temporary truce can come to fruition and both countries have amicable relations (touch wood!), I’d certainly like to see our governments creating a joint panel that would come up with common curriculum for history books that would be taught in both countries. This is something we all can and should sacrifice for the sake of peace. I’m sure children may afford to learn certain extra stuff as long as it does not cause animosity towards people of any race or religion. Believe it or not, we’re already taught stories from Islam along with Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, and Jainism.

“Both. Definitely both. But where do you start? With 1971? Or much, much earlier? Which would yield the more positive results?”

If that’s the case, it must start from Indus-Valley civilization (assuming there is no debate on stone age etc. :)) . The point I’m trying to make is that an assessment should also be made about how much of “false” or debatable material is there because of genuine political differences and how much is the result of religious supremacy one way or other.

But one thing, I’m sure everybody would agree here is that unless we focus on draining the swamps now, generations may end up spending energies on shooting mosquitoes.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

@Myra

“By that logic, the people of both countries would need to use the space created by any temporary truce between their governments to find common ground on history. How would you do that?

>> If such a temporary truce can come to fruition and both countries have amicable relations (touch wood!), I’d certainly like to see our governments creating a joint panel that would come up with common curriculum for history books that would be taught in both countries. This is something we all can and should sacrifice for the sake of peace. I’m sure children may afford to learn certain extra stuff as long as it does not cause animosity towards people of any race or religion.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

@“The more interesting question, and one I have asked before on this blog, is whether India and Pakistan need to make peace on their history before they make peace in the present; or whether it’s possible to walk away from history.”

Given the misgivings of the past & the bad blood between the 2 countries, I think it would be impossible to just walk away from history & therefore it’s all the more important to set the record straight. From an Indian perspective, I can tell you that the younger generation of Indians are not interested in history but the present & future. Although, we’d like to have good relations with Pakistan, our present interest in them is limited to the activities of their “non-state actors” in our country. But after interacting with Pakistanis on the web, it seems that most of Pakistan’s younger generation is stuck in the past & seems to view the present & future from a historical perspective (1971, Afghan war etc) & hence it’s imperative to correct the distorted version of alternate history being taught in Pakistani schools.

Posted by jordan23 | Report as abusive

“Both. Definitely both. But where do you start? With 1971? Or much, much earlier? Which would yield the more positive results?”

If that’s the case, it must start from Indus-Valley civilization (assuming there is no debate on stone age etc. :)) . The point I’m trying to make is that an assessment should also be made about how much of “false” or debatable material is there because of genuine political differences and how much is the result of religious supremacy one way or other.

But one thing, I’m sure everybody would agree here is that unless we focus on draining the swamps now, generations may end up spending energies on shooting mosquitoes.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

@ Myra

Salaam
You wrote –> ” the people of both countries would need to use the space created by any temporary truce between their governments to find common ground on history.”

A temporary truce is not needed to find common ground on history. It can be done any time over the internet by Indians and Pakistanis who are willing to put their ego’s and emotions aside temporarily for the sake of peace.

You wrote –> ” How would you do that? ”

1) A practical and positive approach would be to focus exclusively on the history of the Kashmir conflict rather than debate the endless history of bygone centuries. If a ‘common ground on history’ regarding the Kashmir conflict can be achieved, then that alone would be a breakthrough of biblical proportions (considering the fact that people on either side of the border hold polar opposite views on most things). This common narrative, if it were ever achieved, could also be used for the amicable resolution of the conflict.

2) Most online Indo-Pak debates lack two things which are needed in a civilized dialogue. (1) Civility and (2) Intellectual honesty. People from both sides engage in trolling and flaming behavior, and when they do get into a serious debate they end up generalizing and quoting from questionable sources to support their own narratives. If these two qualities (civility and intellectual honesty) can be ensured/enforced in an online discussion then something good may come out of it. (I really admire the way they do this at Wikipedia. Perhaps their rules of discussion and editing could be used)

3) Inviting opinion makers, policy makers, historians etc from all sides of the issue to join this debate may give it more credibility and impetus. With a little time and effort, a narrative of the Kashmir conflict may be created which both Pakistanis and Indians agree upon. Like I said before, this narrative may help in an amicable resolution of the conflict.

Just a few ideas.
Salaam.

Posted by Shuqaib.Bhutto | Report as abusive

Guys:

well the broader question is Pakistan’s history. It could be specific to India or more general that can be tailored to any scenario (e.g. Mohammad bin Qasim).

Even if we do not want to get into ambitious India-Pak common history project, lots can be done at Pakistan’s level.

Books can be changed. But until mind is changed, folklore will continue to cause damage.

Going back to the reason for the crooked history being taught by Zia and following generals/govts:

Some of the major reasons are:
1. India… “big enemy nation ready to swallow you” so show it weak in books and folklore.

2. Cold war..”blame all on cold war”. Infidel Soviets were ejected by Pakistan and the West ditched Mujahideens. So Pakistan get the license to commit wrong.

3. Islam vs rest of the world, and Pakistan as citadel of Islam Shehzad case is that one.

some of the solutions are: People in Pakistan need to believe that India or others are not Pak’s or Islam;s enemies. Yes they have their share of mistakes but theu have lots to offer.

Need a common enemy since humans need one. Just make the enemy common if not all over at least among India/Pak?Bangladesh.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Seth:

“Terrorist” was used for Bhaghat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ mumbai/Hey-Ram-Bhagat-Azad-labelled-terr orists/articleshow/1001609.cms

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

@Rajeev

Taking nothing away from the point you are trying to make, two things:

A) Times Of India is a cheap newspaper that thrives on sensationalism. Just compare the front pages of websites of “Times Of India” and say, “Hindustan Times”….Please notice the number of scantily clothed women pictures on TOI. They recently posted news about Headly’s interrogation by Indian authorities when no official press release was provided from RAW or anyone else.

B) It was in a book approved by Mumbai University for its BA Part-I course. Now I’m sure you would agree that universities may not have that high levels of standards of content scrutiny before they introduce books written by individual authors in their curriculum. It might have had slipped before somebody paid attention to it and brought it to authorities’ attention. This is entirely different than being in an NCERT-approved curriculum that, I believe, is used throughout India till grade 12th.

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

Seth:

That TOI is cheap is mot my worry. That what I am positing is true is. I have cross checked this was an issue.

point is not how bad it is as compared to XYZ. Thing is why this happened in 1st place. i know u’ll say there is no agenda here. can one be sure of that. Let us stick to the fact that we have examples —not as systemic problem as Pak—where history has been presented wrongly. Wish i have time.,,,,i can bring up few more..

@I’m sure you would agree that universities may not have that high levels of standards of content scrutiny before they introduce books written by individual authors in their curriculum.”
–I totally disagree. They damn well should know what crap they are teaching.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Rajeev,

Without deviating this blog post any further after this…

I’m sure you remember that we recently had Indian Railways ad that showed Delhi in Pakistan. Besides seeing a shocking goof-up did you also sense any agenda there as well? If not, then why? Why one thing is labelled a goof-up while other as politically motivated act?

I did a bit of digging about Bhagat Singh issue. Labeling them terrorists seems plain wrong (but that would be debated 100 years later, no matter what you and me wish today), but it got corrected, fine! Anybody who gets people worked up for these kind of issues, have no real agenda to back up.

Most pages in search results were titled “Congress project Bhagat Singh as terrorist”…

I can’t help but sense a lot of political agenda behind the scenes about it. Anything that can arouse public emotions will always be milked by power-hungry people. It is so very obvious.

I don’t have any political tilt but anything published by UPSC cannot be blatantly attributed to governing political party. Chairman and other members of UPSC are appointed by President of India. By that twisted logic, Pratibha Patil declared Bhagat Singh terrorist. Or may be the God who created her should be blamed for the fiasco. Where does the buck stop? Why must an issue be colored with politics before it can get sorted out?

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

Seth:
@I don’t have any political tilt”
–Nor do I.

Fact remains that freedom fighters were called terrorists by the very people for whom they sacrificed their lives. It is fixed–great. So let us leave it at that.

On lighter note, even propagandists’ laundry list does not include this as an issue is a testimony that this really is not an issue in India.

@I’m sure you remember that we recently had Indian Railways ad that showed Delhi in Pakistan. Besides seeing a shocking goof-up did you also sense any agenda there as well? If not, then why? Why one thing is labelled a goof-up while other as politically motivated act?”
—That Delhi/Pak issue would have made Zaid Hamid’s day. :-) Nothing more to that.
________________________

I am wondering where have all guns fallen silent across the border. Where are my Pakistani friends. What is their take on the article. Mirza can provide his insight, so can perhaps Umair, although he is not educated in Pakistani system.

I do recall Umair saying that his friend (educated guy) visited the USA and came back with the view that Shehzad has good reasons to do what he did. He further said that even he would do that. If this is right, I guess Umair supports this ideology since that was given in support of tyranny of non-Muslims on Muslims and Muslims like Shehzad taking steps to “fix certain issues” (quote Umair) a la Mumbai. Umair is the best person to set the record straight.

Predictable silence!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Myra:

@ We all get our history wrong – sometimes because of the basic survival instincts of a defeated nation (maybe Pakistan post 1971?), and sometimes in a quest for political power (maybe the history of Ayodhya?).”

–Myra, what do u think is wrong about the history of Ayodhya. Was it taught to students at any level of their education? Politicians statements do not count as history. I am confused about what is the “history” here.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

I’d like to hear more Pakistani views on this article.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

The article started well, but then drifted into political correctness and every body does it.

Also the author readily panders to communalist agenda by getting into Ayodhya and pakistan simultaneously. ONLY MUSLIMS LIVING IN INDIA, SHOULD , COULD TALK ABOUT AYODHYA. Paks have no locus standi on the matter!

British Cabinet Mission confronted Jinnah in 1946, stating his plan has no solution for 1/3 muslims of subcontinet who live across the length and breadth of India. Jinnah said he would have liberated 2/3rd muslims, whih still didn’ address the 1/3 Indian muslims.

All the people of India have done for 63 years is despite enormous provacations from pak to build a secular democracy. WHERE ARE THE PAKISTANI HINDUS??!!
Internal issues within India cannot be used to justify pak aggression.

1971 has been discussed in this blog ad infinitum. 1971 came after paks launching war twice already 48 and 65.
1965 was more treacherous since India had just been humiliated by the Chinese.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

Myra,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP9JCusfj e0

watch the youtube video on Indian muslim leader challenging GenMusharaff. I don’t know if you know Hindi, he is saying more than 70% of Indian society or more is ready to fight on behalf of Indian muslims and their welfare.

Once again Paks have no locus standi on internal Indian issues.

I’ve interacted with you on this blog in the old format before (screen name Raj) since Mumbai 08. You have always been an apologist for pakistani aggression.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

Myra:
I disagree with your follwing statement:

@India, and particularly the Hindu right, romanticises the 1857 sepoy revolt against British rule as the First War of Independence, often without acknowledging that it was fought largely in the name of the last Moghul emperor”

It is clear to everyone via history books that the cartridges used by Brits had cow (Hindu factor) and pig (Muslim factor) fat. If you look at the names involved in 1857 one cannot ignore the role of both Hindus and Muslims in that war. Bahadur Shah Jaffar was installed as the Emperor in Redfort by the rebels. If you read Khushwant Singh’s history book (a standard of the Sikh history) and other, you will know that in fact Sikhs at that time did not participate in the revolt and were rather used by Brits to fight against the rebels. I do see a reason for that too if you look at the role of British in pleasing Sikhs in Punjab post-Maharaja Ranjeet Singh. Step back, Sikhs had kept Brits away from Punjab for long time and Brits knew first hand the way they fight even the losing battle. They were given special attention and that partly explains sikhs supporting Brits rather than rebels, whom they did not know much. That is the history I know of as religion and 1857 sepoy revolt.

A bit of digression in quiet Reuters times won’t hurt!

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

There is no doubt that Education in Pakistan needs to improve. However, our historical narrative is our internal and sovereign matter. We never demanded revisionism of american/australian history books on their academic treatment of their respective indigenous populations. Nor do we care for regional history books claiming Taj Mahal to be a Hindu temple.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

There is no doubt that Education in Pakistan needs to improve. However, our historical narrative is our internal and sovereign matter.
-Posted by tupak_shakir

Not when your narrative becomes the foundation upon which anti-Western and anti-Indian and anti-Afghan jihadis are inculcated to threaten global peace and security.

Would you think it acceptable, if the Germans kept teaching the same narrative to their children that was promulgated during the Third Reich?

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

@ “There is no doubt that Education in Pakistan needs to improve. However, our historical narrative is our internal and sovereign matter”
Posted by tupak_shakir

There’s nothing internal or soveriegn about your narrative when it becomes the basis of hatred & animosity, which threatens the lives of innocent poeple of other countries. Case in point being, Mumbai 2008.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

The historical narrative not seems to be hurting Pakistanis. They started by defining themselves as Muslim. Then they started excluding excluding some Muslims like the Ahmadiyyat. Over time that’s become more about being Sunni Muslim. The culmination is what we have seen today in Lahore. Even Sufi Muslims are not safe any more.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Posted by tupak_shakir
===
vintage “Pakistani”!!
Have an islamic republic with guranteed 2nd class citizenship to non.Muslims, wage jihad on neighboring country, talk about inadequate secularism there!!

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

Rajeev,Seth and mortal,
I don’t know if you know this already. I recently found out islamiyat and “Pakistan studies ”
are required courses even in engineering, technical and medical degree
programs in Pakistan
I find this very weird.

Posted by Seekeroftruth | Report as abusive

@Seekeroftruth

I had read about it. Doctors and engineers being taught religion side by side is so alien! But thats up to them, if a would-be doctor or engineer does not mind, why should you and me? My point is, if literate youth are willing to accept such things and see value in them then Allah hi maalik hai (God save that country).

Posted by Seth09 | Report as abusive

You have not approved of our national narrative since independence. We have also continued to not care.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

@I don’t know if you know this already. I recently found out islamiyat and “Pakistan studies ”
are required courses even in engineering, technical and medical degree programs in Pakistan
I find this very weird.
Posted by Seekeroftruth

—Pakistan being an Islamic republic, the morality of the doctor/Enggr is derived from Islam, hence Islamiyat. No idea why “Pakistan studies” should be taught to engineers and doctors in Pakistan. Now that is their internal matter. I wonder if history teaches u hatred against your neighbor and certain religion, where is the morality here.

Posted by RajeevK | Report as abusive

Pakistan has produced doctors, generals, academics, scientists, economists, surgeons from the same education system. I see no problems, with the history.
And

Rajeev wrote:
“I do recall Umair saying that his friend (educated guy) visited the USA and came back with the view that Shehzad has good reasons to do what he did. He further said that even he would do that. If this is right, I guess Umair supports this ideology since that was given in support of tyranny of non-Muslims on Muslims and Muslims like Shehzad taking steps to “fix certain issues” (quote Umair) a la Mumbai. Umair is the best person to set the record straight.”

-ABSOLUTE NONSENSE. I did not imply what you are trying to convey here. And please don’t make assumptions and lie, I have stated on record what my opinion is and YOU need to go back and read if your memory is too short. That is not my problem.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

I can name many higher education institutions in Pakistan offering good degree programs at an affordable price. In Primary, secondary school as well as high school Pakistan needs to invest. Overall the education system is balanced and there is no hatred taught towards Hindus or India in specific. Though there could be different narratives for example of 1965 war. Over all its a fairly balanced education system.

Posted by Umairpk | Report as abusive

ONLY MUSLIMS LIVING IN INDIA, SHOULD , COULD TALK ABOUT AYODHYA. Paks have no locus standi on the matter!

— This is the height of hypocrisy. Here we have countless Indians freely critiquing Pakistani courses and national narrative then changing the subject to India.
when questioned by a westerner on ayodhya, they are infuriated and lecture the westerner of what is locus standi per pakistan.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

Umair,

Do they have ostriches in Pakistan? You seem quite well-versed in their behaviour.

Did you even read the article and its links before your ‘Defend Pakistan’s reflex kicked in?

No doubt there maybe a handful of good universities. But they’ll largely be useless if you don’t have a good base feeding them. Garbage in. Garbage out.

The chronic under-investment in basic education is undoubtedly limiting Pakistan’s potential. But to some extent even the Indians do that (though Pakistan is much worse). But that’s not the point. You want to hurt your own economic potential, why should anybody else care right? More important is the point that the school system is perepetuating a narrative that’s actually driving conflict with Pakistan’s neighbours and inside the country itself. That point you completely missed when you didn’t read the article.

Now would you care to refute any of Myra’s actual points or will you persist with your intellectually dishonest mantra of, “Alll izzzz welll!”.

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

Kiethz,

1. Please enlighten us. What do you think Pakistan’s national narrative is? I am curious to know what our national narrative is according to you.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

Kiethz,

1. Please enlighten us. What do you think Pakistan’s national narrative is?

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

@Keithz,

Was the narrative not, Pakistan for muslims? This has given rise to the gifts of militantism and loving treatment of all non-muslims and “unconstitutional muslim sects”, like we see with Ahmadi’s and Sufi’s.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

So here we have an example of not knowing a damn thing about pak yet everyone here is an expert on our narrative.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

@Tupak,

You Pakistani’s are wasting too much energy on managing perceptions and defending your political positions. What you really need to do, is something more profound. You need to first ask yourself, who are we as a people of Pakistan, what should we be known for? How will the history books view Pakistan? What type of Islam do you want in Pakistan. Do we want a Pakistan that is in perpetual enmity with reason, logic, its neighbours and constantly self-destructing?

Politically speaking, the national pre-occupation is too heavy on religious importance, maintaining enmity with India and using anyway possible to deflect blame and finding creative conspiracy stories to avoid having to face reality.

Pakistan needs to stare all its demons in the face to come to terms with them, that includes all past wars started by your country upon Indians and Bengali’s. From admission of mistakes and admission of failures, truth can come and once you are honest with yourself and get off your arrogant high horse, you can remove the blinds from your eyes and wake up.

Posted by G-W | Report as abusive

gw, your subject change indicates you don’t know our national narrative.

Posted by tupak_shakir | Report as abusive

@tupak_shakir

Myra has a well written article with several points. Instead of trying to pick an argument with me hoe about addressing the points made about the impact of your national narrative on the insecurity your country faces?

As a Westerner who studies the region for a living and helps advise my government on its role in the region, I am interested in knowing why these studies show empirical evidence that an education drives extremist sentiments. If it’s not your national narrative then what is it? I’ve read the whole Brookings report. If your up for a discussion can you start by telling us where they are wrong?

Posted by kEiThZ | Report as abusive

An interesting reading for you all of the State of ‘Curricula and Textbooks’ in Pakistan. Please read page 81 onwards the Report of the project “A Civil Society Initiative in Curricula and Textbooks Reform” at Website: http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/reporton/S tate%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

Posted by SatishChadha | Report as abusive

[...] worrying tendency in the way Pakistani society’s national narratives are constructed.  As discussed here, Manan Ahmed at Chapati Mystery has already written about how the Siddiqui case has tapped into [...]