ISLAMABAD: Description of the Baloch as “uncivilised” people in the syllabus being taught in Punjab irked Senators who called on Friday for action against the people responsible.

The issue was raised in the upper house of parliament by Senator Mir Kabir of the National Party who pointed out that the sociology book being taught to the 12th class in Punjab described the Baloch as “uncivilised people engaged in murder and looting”.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq said the matter was “tantamount to stabbing the nation in the back”.

He said a committee should be formed and those responsible for the “blunder” should be summoned before it.

Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N said the entire syllabus should be reviewed to find out if there were more such distortions in it.

He said that action should be taken against those who were supposed to monitor the contents of the syllabus.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said the syllabus had been reviewed with a view to bringing it in line with the Constitution. A report on the matter would be presented in the next session of the house.

He said the syllabus had been prepared under an ordinance promulgated during Gen Ziaul Haq’s days in power.

“The syllabus still teaches children the benefits of dictatorship,” he remarked, adding that it told the students that dictatorship had 12 benefits against only eight benefits of democracy.

Mr Rabbani said that only one paragraph had been devoted to the dismemberment of Pakistan but there was no mention of the struggle for democracy in the syllabus. The syllabus claimed that imposition of dictatorship was in the interest of the country and the nation.

About the description of Baloch people in the syllabus, he said he would take up the matter with the Punjab chief minister and other provincial chief ministers as well.

Usman Kakar of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party condemned the distorted introduction of Baloch people in the syllabus and called for action against elements responsible for it.

He also asked the house to take notice of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement in the house about recovery of Shahbaz Taseer in a joint intelligence-based operation, which was incorrect.

Shahi Syed of the Awami National Party said the ongoing confrontation between Rangers and police in Sindh was not good for democracy. He said he was against targeted attempts to break up parties and he was also opposed to militant wings in political parties.

Azam Swati of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) raised the issue of large-scale postings and transfers in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and wondered how 2018 general elections would be conducted in a free and fair manner if such controversial decisions were taken.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad said the ECP was a constitutional body mandated to hold free and fair elections and the electoral body must be trusted. He said that law permitted the ECP to make transfers and postings and no institutions should create hurdles in its work.

He defended the ECP move and said that all postings had been made “purely on administrative grounds”. The reply, however, could not satisfy the PTI lawmaker, who pointed out that a librarian at the ECP headquarters had been posted as the district election commissioner of Jhelum.

Mr Swati said that controversial notifications for the transfers had been issued with the approval of the chief election commissioner and not the election commission. Many of those transferred, he said, had been sent to serve in provinces other than where they were living, indicating that it was a punishment and not an administrative arrangement.

In the first phase, he said, 54 grade-18 officers had been transferred on January 18, followed by transfer of nine grade-19 officers on Jan 30. In the second phase, he said, the ECP transferred 27 grade-18 officers.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2016

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