Zee News , 8 Dec, 2006
Islamabad, Dec 07: After 60 years of dogged defence of the two-nation theory that described separate nations for Hindus and Muslims and cleaved the subcontinent, Pakistan is all set to officially redefine the doctrine, stating that it was "Muslim deprivation not religion" that led to partition.
In tune with the "enlightened moderation" philosophy being advocated by President Pervez Musharraf, drastic changes are being made in school textbooks, including new chapters with "less biased explanations" of the two-nation theory and partition, an Education Ministry official said.
"The new national curriculum for Pakistan studies for grades IX and X explains the two-nation theory and Pakistan`s ideology with specific reference to economic and social deprivation of Muslims in India," The Daily Times quoted the official as saying.
Hailed by moderates as a significant move in the battle against Islamic extremists who radicalised the religious ideology, marginalising the minorities and virtually pushing them to extinction, the new curriculum would "exclude all such material that promotes prejudice against non-Muslims of pre-partition India".
"Pakistan`s ideology has been explained with reference to the pronouncements of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam," the official said.
The new textbooks will cover the topics on ideological basis of Pakistan, its creation, land and environment, brief history, the country`s role in world affairs, economic development, population, society and culture.
The final draft of the new curriculum has been finalised and it is being sent to the provinces and would be implemented from 2007 academic year, the official said.
The new orientation to two nation theory that formed the bedrock of Pakistan`s domestic and foreign policies for over five decades came after the Washington widened its "strategic dialogue" with Islamabad from mere Madarsa reforms to overhaul of text books which, according to many moderate Pakistani academicians, have been doctored with "lies".
The second meeting of the US-Pak ministerial dialogue on education reforms was held in Washington last week during which a whole set of reforms to prune up Pakistan`s education system, besides reforming Madarsas, were finalised.
Hailing the move as one of the most significant in the country`s history, noted physicist, scholar and human rights activist Pervez Hoodbhoy said "these changes, if implemented, will be a resounding victory for those Pakistanis who have argued against poisonous representations of religious minorities in textbooks".
"Hate materials have been officially removed from the curriculum, and some effort at curbing religious intolerance has been taken.
"It is a positive step if the need for creating Pakistan is presented as a consequence of Muslim social deprivation rather than their fundamental inability to live together with Hindus" he said here.
"How textbooks will be written to reflect the new directives and how teachers will present new materials to students, remains to be seen," Hoodbhoy, Professor of Physics at the Quaid-e-Azam University, said.
Another noted academician A H Nayyar, whose exhaustive studies of school books in the past exposed factual distortions, including the claim that Pakistan won the 1965 war with India, said it would be the most progressive step forward in "cleansing Pakistan textbooks" of hate material.
Nayyar said that the two-nation theory had been "very extensively used by extremist religious political forces in trying to bring in radical Islam into Pakistan society.
"They projected the theory as a call for establishing a religious Islamic state with a government that would go (with) Quran and Sunnah," he said.
"The ideology of Pakistan was used for enforcement Islamic Shariah Law and to distort history by introducing lies in the history of the country particularly during British rule," Nayyar said, adding that textbooks of all subjects, barring science and Maths, have been distorted.
"I am glad that the government is proposing to change this. It is very essential to change the mindsets and changes in the textbooks is the best way to begin with," he said and hoped that the government would not backtrack under pressure from extremists to dilute the changes.