LAHORE: Political leaders, including government allies, have rejected the report of the one-member minority commission that recommended exclusion of Islamic teachings and history from textbooks other than Islamiyat.

Former top cop Dr Shoaib Suddle as a one-man minority commission last week suggested a uniform curriculum across the country and, for the purpose, omitting write-ups on Islamic teachings and Islamic history from textbooks except in Islamiyat.

Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi expressed concern and said the recommendations would not go down well with the majority of the population.

A press release quoted them as expressing these views during a meeting held at Governor House here on Sunday.

Special Representative to the PM on Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, also the chairman of Muttahida Ulema Board, told a press conference that the board meeting had rejected the commission’s recommendations and demanded the Punjab chief minister initiate action against those who forwarded these suggestions.

He said neither do the contents of the curriculum pose any threat to the minorities nor is there anything that desecrates religious beliefs of any minority. In fact, minority students are not bound to study and sit exams on Islamic teachings, he added.

Flanked by Allama Hussain Akbar, Dr Raghib Naeemi and other members of the board, Hafiz Ashrafi said neither the Supreme Court had issued any directive on the basis of the commission’s report nor was the opinion of the Council of Islamic Ideology, ulema board and other scholars sought on the recommendations which, he claimed, were against the very foundations of the country and its constitution.

He feared that if implemented, the report could lead to chaos and unrest in the country and hurt its image in the world. He said the report had been rejected even by the National Commission on Minorities. Religious scholars would also approach the apex court, which had formed the Dr Suddle commission, to apprise it of the “ground realities”, he claimed.

Separately, Jamaat-i-Islami Emir Sirajul Haq warned that “westernisation and liberalism” in the name of a uniform curriculum will not be accepted. In a statement issued here, he said his party would resist if a new curriculum likely to be introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab was found to be against Islamic teachings.

He demanded that ideologues and clerics should be consulted for the design of the new curriculum. He also appealed to the Supreme Court to take care of the emotions of the Muslims while making a decision on the curriculum.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021

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