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ISLAMABAD: Since the creation of the country, efforts have been made for a strong centre and weak provinces, which is favourable for dictators, said Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani on Friday.

Speaking at an event titled ’70 years of Parliament in Pakistan’ at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (Pips) Mr Rabbani said the school curriculum in Punjab and Sindh list 11 benefits of dictatorships and eight of democracy, giving the impression that dictatorships are better.

“Pakistan is a diverse country and has a multilingual society. But decades ago, a campaign was started so that those who said they were Punjabi, Sindhi, Pakhtoon, Baloch or Muhajirs were declared traitors,” he said.

“Arab culture was imposed on us. Our culture is that of the Indus Valley. Diversity is the guaranty of unity and those who are trying to impose a foreign culture on us are making the country week,” he said.

Senate chairman says children are taught in schools that dictatorships are better than democracies

Mr Rabbani also discussed issues facing minority communities and said some elements do not tolerate minorities in Pakistan.

“In a speech in Aug 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam said Pakistan will be a welfare state in which minorities will have equal rights and will be protected. That speech was lost and till a few years ago, it was impossible to get a transcript of it,” he said.

The Senate chairman said when he was working on the 18th Amendment, he was surprised to find that though the Objective Resolution was incorporated in the Constitution during the tenure of Gen Ziaul Haq, the section on minorities being free to practice their religion was deleted. He said the section was incorporated in the Constitution once again.

Talking about the political situation after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, he said the country cannot afford a clash between institutions.

“There is need for starting an intra-institutional dialogue. All the institutions should function in their limits and they should not violate their limits,” he said.

The youth should ask questions about whether the country is going in the right direction and pressure the government if it is not.

Pips chief Zafrullah Khan stressed on the need to give provinces autonomy as the people had been demanding this for decades.

‘The will of the people should be considered in a republic as public forms the major part of the word republic,” he said.

Speaking at a book launch later at Lok Virsa, Mr Rabbani said dictatorial regimes adopt a policy for strangling literature and literary culture in the country in order to stop people from thinking and create an intellectual vacuum by banning student unions, trade bodies and tea house culture which represents intellectuals.

“Everyone is equal according to the Constitution but unfortunately, there are different categories of laws for the rich and poor. This can be overcome by nurturing progressive thinking in the country,” he said.

The book that was launched is titled Judge Sahab and is written by Arshad Shad, a prominent novelist, poet and playwright.

Mr Shad has written 12 books including novels, poetry collections and short stories. His novel Bewatan won the Prime Minister Literary Award in 1998 for the best novel from the Pakistan Academy of Letters.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2017