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A primary and secondary school environment is being created which is nurturing prejudice and extremism. – PPI Photo

Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It has become something of a personality cult in Pakistan. Nowhere is this cognitive dissonance more visible than amongst the educated who refuse to accept facts and logic, clinging instead to a neurotic persecution complex.

Columnist Khaled Ahmed says: “The vast majority of literate Pakistanis take comfort in ignorance, skepticism and conspiracy theories. The self-glorification of an imagined past matched by habits of national denial have assumed crisis proportions today when Pakistan’s existence is under far more serious threat from fellow Muslims than it was in 1947 from rival non Muslim communities.” What lies beneath this inability to critique and lack of intelligent analysis? Undoubtedly, one’s education influences views on politics and society. As Robert Frost aptly puts it: “education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

To sift the chaff from the grain, let us consider a ubiquitous slogan about the ‘ideology’ of Pakistan. A staple of our school textbooks, it echoed in massive public rallies as well as debates on secularism. Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La illaha il lallah (What is the meaning of Pakistan? There is no God but Allah) has become the rallying cry of the campaign to Islamise Pakistani society. Ironically, it is a slogan that was coined long after the creation of Pakistan, but it is now being falsely ascribed to the leaders of the Pakistan movement in 1947.

Religion has often proved to be a powerful binding factor which has merged heterogeneous groups into a distinct nationality. Through appeal to supernatural authority, religion promotes national unity as a divine command. Examples abound in contemporary history: the Greek church as a source for Greek nationalism, the Catholic church as a factor in Irish separatism, Judaism and the state of Israel, Islam and Pakistan.

Soon after he seized power in 1977, General Zia ul-Haq sought to create a nation based on religion rather than on secular principles. An important part of the Islamisation agenda was defining the Islamic ‘ideology’ of Pakistan. In stark contrast to modern textbooks, no textbook written prior to 1977 mentions the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’.

Since education was a key factor in Zia’s Machiavellian manoeuvrings, a presidential order was issued that all Pakistan Studies textbooks must “demonstrate that the basis of Pakistan is not to be founded in racial, linguistic, or geographical factors, but, rather, in the shared experience of a common religion. To get students to know and appreciate the Ideology of Pakistan, and to popularise it with slogans. To guide students towards the ultimate goal of Pakistan – the creation of a completely Islamised State.”

Instead of being a Muslim state as envisaged by its founders, Pakistan was recast in the mould of an Islamic state, where Islamic law would reign supreme. A state sponsored and systematic purging of liberal and secular values of future generations of Pakistan ensued.

History was rewritten to redefine Pakistani as an Islamic society, and no research on ancient India, the medieval period or the colonial era. Our history was linked with the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, thus alienating it from ancient Indian history. This interpretation creates a Muslim consciousness that seeks it’s identity outside India. Historian Mubarak Ali cautions “History should not be influenced by religious beliefs since history has no religion. Pakistan came into being in 1947, but our history existed before this which cannot be deleted.”

History textbooks written soon after Partition - a time when the grief of shattered families who experienced communal killings was at its peak – show a more liberal mindset. The history of the subcontinent was taken to start with the ancient Indus valley civilisations rather than with the conquest of India by the first Muslim invader, Mohammad bin Qasim, in 712. In contrast to today’s history books, these books contained discussions of the empires of Emperor Ashoka and the Maurya dynasty. Has there has been a deliberate revival of communal antagonism over 30 years after Partition? Undoubtedly, the permanent militarisation of society requires a permanent enemy.

Although Edward Everett may state that “education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army”, the task of defending Pakistan’s ideological borders has been entrusted to the military as they are defenders of the ‘faith.’ Textbooks extol the achievements of Muslim conquering heroes, as well as those of the Armed Forces. In sharp contrast, no contributions by any heroes in fields like education, medicine, law or social work are highlighted. September 6 commemorates the defense of the country against an Indian attack in 1965. According to our textbooks, it was India which attacked Lahore in the middle of the night, without any provocation, but our army won this war. The reality is that Pakistan started the 1965 war on August 5 by sending soldiers into Kashmir and India retaliated the following day.

Instead of the soul searching and accountability undertaken by nations like Japan and Germany after devastating wars, our history textbooks explained the separation of East Pakistan in 1971 as an evil design by India which created the guerrilla group Mukhti Bahini in order to seize Pakistani territory. Although we lost half of Pakistan, there was no mention of the gross inequalities which led to the grievances of the Bengalis. Tens of thousands died, millions were displaced, atrocities were committed and the country was rent asunder. But the guilty were never punished.

The seeds of the distortion of history and the preponderance of religious dogma which were sown decades ago are bearing fruit today. Examples from the curriculum designed by the Federal Ministry of Education abound. The Social Studies textbook for Class 7 says: “European nations have been working during the past three centuries, through conspiracies on naked aggression to subjugate the countries of the Muslim world.”

14-year-old students of Pakistan Studies are being taught that: “one of the reasons of the downfall of the Muslims in the sub-continent was the lack of the spirit of jihad.”

13-year-olds are instructed: “In Islam jihad is very important…..The person who offers his life never dies….All the prayers nurture one’s passion of jihad.”

Thus, a primary and secondary school environment is being created which is nurturing prejudice and extremism. “College and university come much too late; change must begin at the primary and secondary school level,” sums up physicist and lecturer Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy. Although religious schools or madrassas in Pakistan are often blamed for breeding extremism, only 6 per cent of children are educated in these schools. Furthermore, research does not confirm the link between madrassa education and terrorism. The cause for the intolerance experienced by Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians lies in public education, structured as it has been to defend Pakistan against some phantom enemy. Non-Muslims are forced to read the same textbooks which contain derogatory remarks against Hindus, e.g being eternal enemies of Muslims. Our myopic educational system discourages questioning and causes ethnic and religious minorities to be viewed with suspicion.

Pakistan is primarily a young country, so it is the youth which is severely impacted by rampant unemployment, inflation, corruption and violence. Many amongst this disenchanted segment have started seeing religion as their anchor and are attracted to demagogues like Zaid Hamid. A self-proclaimed jihadist who claims to have fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, Hamid banks on the insecurity and frustrations of college students and television viewers. Just as Adolf Hitler dwelt on Germany’s ‘wounded honour’ in his famous beer-hall oratory in Munich (where he promised that Germany would conquer the world), Hamid calls for the Pakistan Army to go to war against India and liberate Kashmir, Palestine, Chechnya and Afghanistan.

Our curriculum stresses the formal and ritualistic aspects of Islam, as against those which emphasise social justice. Science and secular knowledge are regarded with contempt. Dr Hoodbhoy says, “I have never seen a first-rate Muslim scientist become an Islamist or a terrorist even when he or she is a strong believer. But second-and third-rate technologists are more susceptible. These are people who use science in some capacity but without any need to understand it very much—engineers, doctors, technicians, etc.—all of whom are more inclined towards radicalism. They have been trained to absorb facts without thinking, and this makes them more susceptible to the inducements of holy books and preachers.” The steady diet of religious fundamentalism and blind faith has clouded objective and rational thinking, and transformed Pakistan from a moderate Muslim-majority country into one where the majority wants Islam to play a key role in politics. A 2008 survey by World Public Opinion found that 54 per cent of Pakistanis wanted strict application of Sharia. The British Council polled 1226 young Pakistanis between 18 and 29 in 2009 and found that ‘three-quarters of all young people identify themselves primarily as Muslims. Just 14 per cent chose to define themselves primarily as a citizen of Pakistan.’

Pakistan’s skewed priorities may account for the huge amount spent on its ever increasing “defence needs” and only 1.5 per cent of it’s GDP on education. But lost in the brouhaha over the lack of access to education is the dire need to revise the dogmatic and distorted school curriculum. As the pendulum swings in Pakistan between radicals and moderates, we need our friends to stand with us and demand that Pakistanis don’t need an education which stunts, blinds, distorts and deadens any more. As Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

Maheen Usmani is a freelance journalist. She has reported on varied subjects, ranging from socio-political issues to sports, travel, culture and counter terrorism.

Comments (85) Closed

king Aug 01, 2011 01:59pm
Sad State of affairs.... It needs one or two generations of positive thoughts to erase the mess created in the alst 30 years
suren singh sahni Aug 01, 2011 02:06pm
A brilliant and an illuminating and impartial commentary and analysis of malaise in Pakistans ideology.Global world means tolerance of diversity and discord.
DKS Aug 01, 2011 02:12pm
what a great article...One can hope it instill some sense in people... I specially like "education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
bk Aug 01, 2011 02:22pm
Excellent article. I always believe that an education based on science and logic is very important for survival of mankind. I am an Indian, from my memory I never remember being taught in our school the animosity between India and Pakistan. We need to understand that India and Pakistan has a shared history deep down. Accepting it will be good for both nations. From this article, I feel that Pakistan needs a good reform in their education sector.
gopal patel Aug 01, 2011 02:39pm
Very insightful, makes you sit up and think. Where did we intend to go, and where have we reached!
Faraz Husain Aug 01, 2011 02:47pm
Great read. Only if this idea could be spread and marketted. This needs to go out to the masses.
patriot Aug 01, 2011 03:06pm
excellent summary, but no use its in english, the readers of english papers are mostly already aware of all that, its the masses who are unaware, and they dont read english papers you really want people of pakistan learn about these facts? write in urdu
Dr.Mubarakmand Aug 01, 2011 03:34pm
The really sad aspect of this whole issue is the damage done to the Islamic religion in all of this. For e.g just look at the positives that Islam teaches us in this month of ramadhan alone of self-restraint,worship,etc..., But unfortunately people's wrong doings have done a lot of damage to our religion and those who 'think' of themselves as Islamic have become nothing but extremists,haters and savages. It is important for us to understand the difference between politics and religion.
kayenn Aug 01, 2011 04:09pm
Excellent and honest articles of introspection. I hope that this article gets translated into Urdu and published in all the Pakistani newspapers. Even Bangladesh has gone ahead of Pakistan in terms of education and freedom of thought..... Please keep writing and show the people of Pakistan a mirror whereby they can reflect on their own thought process
Zakir Gulzari Aug 01, 2011 04:29pm
Great attempt; This is Cristal-clear that the growing extremism in Pakistan is rooted to fabrics of Education system. Besides, political reform curriculum reform is also a must.
dkbose Aug 01, 2011 04:45pm
enchanting article form such an honored columnist.. but it must be published in urdu appealing to mass the liberal pakistanis are aware but its the majority who has to check within themselves wht goin wrong .., self introspection is a must for pakistan society at last bravado to dear columnist :)
maria Aug 01, 2011 04:55pm
hahaha....funny article....cartoon logic.....
Huma Aug 01, 2011 04:58pm
A very well written article which summarizes the malaise within the educated Pakistani class. As Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”
Tim mcdaniels Aug 01, 2011 05:08pm
One of the most insightful articles in dawn.
ravian Aug 01, 2011 05:28pm
it really is indeed very true ,,,, appreciated ....
Shanti Madlani UK Aug 01, 2011 05:59pm
Very depressing analysis indeed. Reading the column twice, it seems Pakistan is sleep walking to self destruction.
Changezi Aug 01, 2011 06:02pm
An excellent and brave article. The writer has boldly pointed out to the psychological traps the extremist establishment and especially that of General Zia-ul-Haq designed to produce a 'crazy jihadist intolerant mob of Millions and millions' out of a nation that was meant to be a secular, welfare Muslim (not necessarily Islamic) state..... But the crazy mob has unfortunately outnumbered the enlightened ones by far...It is disappointing for me at least..
Space Monkey Aug 01, 2011 06:11pm
Its v sad that Pakistanis ignore and reject their heritage. They do not have Arab or Turkish blood flowing through them. They are as much Indian genetically as Indians are. In fact, at independence, Pakistan had a greater RIGHT over the name 'India' than the modern day Republic of India. The word India comes from the word Hindu, which comes from Sindhu (Indus). The Indus flows in Pakistan and not India. Moreover, the Indus is at the heart of the Rig Veda (Ganga is mentioned barely 3-4 times).... Anyways.
DEBRAJ TANDI Aug 01, 2011 06:15pm
I don’t know much about Pakistan but if it is true, then God only can save Pakistan. But don’t worry, your neighbor India is also in such a mess that no one can dare to rule it. Thus God has taken charge of it after English. Hopefully, God must have taken charge of Pakistan also, as both are siblings.(I get confused when some people in India say, Pakistan is an errant younger brother of India whereas some people say Pakistan is a daughter of mother India and accordingly all Pakistanis are “BHANJE” of Indians .) Above all God only love the people of these two nations. He can not close His eyes while Pakistanis and Indians suffer,so no need to worry. If things are not going according to your will then blame yourself, as you are not in a position to adjust with others and make sure you are not suffering from “GENERATION GAP” syndrome.
Moieen Aug 01, 2011 06:23pm
I read this writting, 3 times. the author really described the root cause. I appericiate her as she written this column, Hope see more of her writtings
Friend Aug 01, 2011 06:53pm
Excellent and bold article. It should be published in local laguage also.
Agha Ata Aug 01, 2011 07:21pm
Ms.Maheen, this is one of the best articles i have ever read in a pakistani publication. If this article is published in Urdu newspapers as well, and also read and discussed on TV., that might be the way to a permanent solution to most problems in Pakistan in the long run.
Agha Ata Aug 01, 2011 07:45pm
Ms.Maheen. This is one the best articles I have ever read in Pakistani newspapers. Although every educated man knows most of these things, and all points have been discussed separately many times. But this one article tells all of the major causes of the predicament Pakistan is in. I wish it could be translated and published in Urdu newspapers as well, and discussed on TV. That might enlighten the masses.
Mullah Mama Aug 01, 2011 07:48pm
An excellent article. Totally agree with the author. I believe both Pakistan and India have been hi-jacked, in different ways perhaps, by criminal Politicians. The low level of education among the mass has further sustained this condition. The educated,rational middle class has very little say in both the societies-since they are the real minorities. They have little or no political represenation. What we need is 1.Spread of modern education and 2) political revolution, with greater stake in it for eduacted Civilians.
Hope Aug 01, 2011 08:32pm
To sum it up...your article hits the nail on the head.
Ravi Aug 01, 2011 08:43pm
How about crowd-sourcing/open-sourcing for Urdu translation? I'm sure pakistani youth will help in that if dawn makes software changes to allow that.
nb Aug 01, 2011 08:46pm
The author is right. Whatever we have in our day-to-day life is product of science. Electricity, Antibiotic, Mobile Phone, Shirt, Trouser, Buttons, Scissors, Spectacles, Microwave oven, Rail, Bus, Concrete house, wristwatch, TV, and name anything. Religion teachers did not make these. Even the loudspeakers used for religious lectures are not product of any religion. Rely on science. It gives better life.
Saad M. Waraich Aug 01, 2011 09:04pm
Well written, very insightful and completely true. Unfortunately unless such articles are published in urdu publications not much will change. SMW
khan Aug 01, 2011 09:34pm
those who read this paper know this and would agree with the writer. This argument should be introduced in the places where it is completely absent.
JNc Aug 01, 2011 10:18pm
Thanks for proving the author right.
haroon Aug 01, 2011 11:09pm
THANKYOU. Finally somebody has the courage to call a spade a spade. This is going to take time, but if we teach our kids the truth, it will eventually bear fruit.
Veeru Singh Aug 01, 2011 11:28pm
A great piece by a very enlightened writer. Some very insightful analysis supported by relevant examples. Maheen your painstaking research analysis deserves to be shared widley in pak. Thanks
Rizwan Afridi Aug 02, 2011 12:02am
Great article. We Pakistanis seem to be in need of coming to terms with the fact that Pakistan is not a Middle Eastern or Central Asian country, but instead is a South Asian that has FAR more in common with India than Iran. Yes, I am Pashtun, and even we are not really Central Asians despite what you may hear. I have been to Central Asia (uzbek, tajik, kyrgyz, and kazakhstan), and it is very different from the NWFP. If anything, the "central asian" parts of Pakistan are a hybrid culture that still strong leans towards South Asia. But our mullahs want us to turn our backs on India and imagine we are Arabs or Turks and forget that our ancestors built one of the greatest Buddhist civilizations the world has ever known.
atif Aug 02, 2011 01:15am
very well written article ,only one problem dont hate me for it.i believe in this dy of age either its conservative or liberal i think this article is liberal sided.i m centrist i believe in things from both side and don't like things from both side too. i think Pakistan needs both religion and history .we need people to come together and put their heads together they can create new good books everyone tell the problem but not a solution i mean a solution which can sit well with everyone.look at china they dont tell history as it was but they are successful .in Pakistan we lack working hard.if we work hard i think everything will follow the right direction.amal se zindagi banti hai janat bhi jahanum bhi.
aziz Aug 02, 2011 01:22am
i read your article in great depth and no doubt i share your bleakness , i want to highlight some key points as well that in history of Pakistan . All the development are based in the fields of army and miltary purposes , Nuclear power in search of that sort ... do you know that our army is very well advanced yet common man and people lacks any such facilities ? where is pakistan scientific society ?
Salman Aug 02, 2011 02:29am
@nb, everything is good is moderation, yes science gives better life but having a better life is not the only purpose of human beings, as Muslims we need to find a balance, Islam does not say no to conventional education or science as long as we do not leave/ignore our deen, in any case we should not forget that there is life after death as well!
Yaseen Mohd. Aug 02, 2011 02:39am
Sad reality of our country. Wonder if we would ever be able to muster enough courage to reverse the tide set to destroy our nation. Such self-created demons will not leave our country unless the root causes are eradicated.
Marc Aug 02, 2011 03:09am
The article really captures the essence of the problem. However the doing of decades can not be undone so easily. Especialy when the only power wielding establishment in Pakistan views islamic radicalization as an instrument. Who do you think will bring about the change??
Happy to read such a Aug 02, 2011 04:42am
I agree with you completely. It must be translated.
Chaman Lal Aug 02, 2011 04:56am
Excellent and eye opener, the rot must be cleaned starting from the elementary schools.
sudkan Aug 02, 2011 06:13am
Completely agree. India, unfortunately, offers a rather depressing choice between Congress and BJP. No better here
VINOD Aug 02, 2011 06:29am
To be honest i have never read such frank, well researched and lucid article in any paper of Pakistan. I sincerely congratulate the author and also Dawn for having published it. may this bring some light to the people.
PureOfHeart Aug 02, 2011 07:26am
Here we witness the Great contribution that women bring to the usually angry partial debate. I salute You Madam<3
Shahid Aug 02, 2011 07:34am
Excellent analysis of the prevailing situation in Pakistan. Need these types of articles to keep coming.
Sam Aug 02, 2011 07:52am
damage is done to current generation... Any chance of preventing damage to future generation? Is there any textbook rewritten to correct this mess? Or business as usual? People of Pakistan needs to wake up and take charge of country and put it in to right direction before its too late.
alphalion Aug 02, 2011 07:58am
Mohammad Ali Khan Aug 02, 2011 08:31am
Start a grass root movement to live honestly.Be punctual.Keep surroundings clean,Respect fellow humans.Spread compassion. Time for action.
Azmat Aug 02, 2011 08:31am
A wake up call. I complement the author for her analysis of facts as they stand. One blogger has suggested the need for such articles to reach the larger audience through the urdu press, I agree. It is now left to the so called silent majority to at least start debate & share their thoughts.....
Umesh Aug 02, 2011 09:41am
very well written and true article only right and secular education in pakistan can bring out of all this mess other wise there is no future of pakistani people
Arif Aug 02, 2011 09:55am
This article should definitely be discussed on TV, among masses to let people know how we are controlled / influenced. Great work, thought provoking.
V Kurian Aug 02, 2011 10:24am
A great article...which will force the masses into some form of introspection.Kudos to Dawn for publishing this and it speaks volumes about the print media of Pakistan.Finally to the people of Pakistan don't shoot the messenger just think about it...It is the greatest asset of your country the next generation.
Pankaj Aug 02, 2011 10:43am
Pakistani middle class liberals have lost the battle it seems because fundamentalists have penetrated these community to a great extent. Overall very depressing scenario. Best of luck anyway !
sarfraz masih Aug 02, 2011 10:49am
it is really a food for thought for intellectuals of Pakistan to identify the root cause of turf war in our country. there are very few people who have the critical analysis about the most dangerous erupting situation in Pakistan due to creating biased mindset of young students. every one has to play their role to make people aware of this menace. i greatly appreciate this article.
HN Aug 02, 2011 11:45am
This article links the current condition of the country to it's policy on linking a select religion to its politics. Separate the religion and state like most advanced societies have done.
Hemchandra DAVE Aug 02, 2011 11:45am
Ms Usmani's article was brilliantly written, to the point and true to life. As an Indian,when I look at people in any stratum of society who are ' over-religious', it reminds me of what Mr Karl Marx once wrote about religion being the opium of the poor. Poor in education as well as finance! Pakistan as a country has a capability to prosper and propensity to excel itself but as a nation it must shed it's false pride and prejudice. Best Regards, Dave
Abdullah Aug 02, 2011 11:47am
I dont know where you got your facts from. Please visit the interior areas of sindh and balochistan. You will find that there IS NO Primary or Secondary education in the government schools! the children barely get an education and the land lords use these buildings to keep their animals. Furthermore,you wrote 'no contributions by any heroes in fields like education, medicine, law or social work are highlighted' in the text books written right after partition. I dont think any books were written at all by the Pakistani authors and of course why would foreign authors highlight our heroes? and in the newly created nation, I don't think there were any heroes in Pakistan regarding education, and medicine.
Aadya Aug 02, 2011 01:11pm
So wonderful to hear the voice of a true Pakistani. In India the people long for Pakistanis to understand that we share common history and common blood, that Pakistanis are first our brothers and sisters and then whatever religion. Strength to the humanity of the people of Pakistan, the true spirituality.
Goga Nalaik Aug 02, 2011 01:13pm
Bravo Maheen for this excellent article. Write more
Mohammad Aug 02, 2011 01:47pm
The article clearly shows the problems in our thinking process as citizens of Pakistani is so true that our core value and believe system are badly distorted by people in power. Our major problem that we have a wrong perception of our grass root realties and state of affairs , as one author states “ The way we see the problem , is the problem “
Dilip (South Africa) Aug 02, 2011 01:51pm
WOW!!!!! The first article i have come across that both the PAKISTANI and INDIAN commentators are unified. Tolerance is the word. If BOTH of us carry ourselves in this manner, than we have somethings to look forward to. Great goings ... Let us LEARN .... Let us RESPECT ..... Let us live in HARMONY ..... Let us ENJOY this beautifull World.
Human Aug 02, 2011 02:04pm
At first I want to give thanks to the team of DAWN for such a bold and transparent publication thereafter, I want to pay my thanks and hearty respect to madam Usmani for such an excellent and cultured presentation.If 10% like madam Usmani is in Pakistan then remaining 90% will automatically be changed because the power of good is more powerful than the power of evils.
Deependra Aug 02, 2011 02:12pm
Great article but too late and too few listeners left.
abhijith Aug 02, 2011 02:45pm
Very aptly summarised.
Irfan Husain Aug 02, 2011 02:46pm
The clearest exposition of the mess we are in today that I have read in a long time. This clarion call for reason and secularism in our public discourse and in our text books needs to be widely disseminated.
Nooruddin Jalal Aug 02, 2011 02:56pm
I agree with you Maheen- because the dogma of ignorance seems to be the sole reason of clash among the future generations of this land. Therefore we need a massive effort to educate the Pakistani youths in a more thoughtful, competent and complete manner for the nation responsibilities which they will be expected to fulfill, and particularly in education sector. What the youth know is therefore no longer the most important measure for a progressive country. The true test is the ability of youth to engage with what they do not know in this cosmopolitan society, on ground basis and to work out a solution. We need to redefine our dim strategy, we need to modify the law, which is based on discrimination so that every Pakistani can enjoy the national rights. My hats off to you Maheen! The most prominent article I have ever read on the ideology of Pakistan.
Nishant Visen Aug 02, 2011 03:00pm
A very thought provoking article for all those who want to see Pakistan in its present form some years down the line. Do act upon it or else your Pakistan will implode sooner than later.
ranga Aug 02, 2011 03:16pm
Good, well thought article. The though process is excellent. Religion is not important, the faith is. We need to learn to keep religion sperate and personal. One of the best, impartial articles. Please do not join politics.
n.qureshi Aug 02, 2011 05:45pm
excellent article.
imran sheikh Aug 02, 2011 06:09pm
A balanced article that points out the systematic mis-use of religion. The priorities in Islam are Tauheed (not joining anyone in worship with God), then respect and care of parents, then Haqooq-ul-Ibad ( respecting the rights of your fellow humans-note: not just Muslims) and then the tenets, like namaz, zakat, etc. None of these speaks of anything but a concern for all humanity at the individual level. The inability of the majority of Muslims to read, and further read and understand Arabic to understand the message themselves has opened up huge opportunities for people who deliberately or unwittingly distort the message of Islam. Education must be the overwhelming priority for all Muslim countries, so that at least Muslims may read different translations and decide for themselves what appeals to their intellect.
Shakil Aug 02, 2011 06:20pm
Almost completely agree with the writer, its true the history is distorted by some short sighted leaders. Its not only one sided distortion of history, Indian side has similar share in creating hate culture between Pakistan and India. The view changes when both Indian and Pakistanis interact with each other and initial perception changes with time and after fact finding exercise. Having said that, defense spending is more linked to political solution of Jammu and Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India, its not only a religious issue though faith is being used. But core problem is resolution of this issue. After that there will be no more reason for hate mongering on both sides. From that point onwards, both countries have much in common than any other on the planet. They can and will exist as good neighbors with harmony and friendship!
Ratnesh Aug 02, 2011 06:21pm
That land gave two oldest religion to the world : Hinduism and Buddhism. One of the oldest university in the world, greatest empire of Maurya, oldest books (vedas) were written somewhere in the foothill of Himalaya, Sindh etc. Alexander defeated on that land. What else any country need to be proud of?? Is it just because of religion?? Then what do you say about Egyptian, Mesopotamia, Persian, Greeks, Romans?? I rest my case Regards Ratnesh
ExMuslim Aug 02, 2011 06:21pm
Good article. But try saying this to your local mullah and you will see the reaction immediately.
ashutosh Aug 02, 2011 06:23pm
It is that much more difficult to accept facts that are true,despite having been nurtured oneself in the same untruth one has actually identified and has had the courage of one's conviction to state that it is untrue.Brave indeed,this journalist.Salutations to this lady.
Bilal Aug 02, 2011 06:40pm
Can't agree any more with your views. The current education system is churning out violence obsessed frustrated youth who blindly consider west as the soul cause of all of their miseries. Its high time we expel this theocratic jargon from our school books for good.
Abdul Aug 02, 2011 06:41pm
great article
ambijat Aug 02, 2011 07:20pm
People like Maheen Usmani are Kohinoor of Pakistan. They must flourish for the cause of humanity.
ansariwn Aug 02, 2011 07:38pm
LOL! Excellent reply. Ms Maheen should try and adjust and enjoy the ride.
Yousuf Aug 03, 2011 12:39am
a very nice article which shows the root cause of the different social and political problems in pakistan. But one thing to be pointed out, this question (referring to british poll) is really absurd in its sense that what are we primarily? pakistani first or muslim first? both can be at the same time and can't be, I am muslim and paksitani, state has nothing to do with my religion, and my religion has nothing to so with other pakistanis, they have to follow their own way. we should see our role as a just pakistani....... in fact this is main body of the article, I guess.
Tariq Aug 03, 2011 01:04am
It is not just the illiterate masses who are living in denial. Last week I met a visiting couple from Pakistan at a dinner party here in the SF Bay area. The husband / wife were both educated working professionals. Here are some of the gems they dropped during the dinner table chit chat. 1. The attack of Sri-Lanka Cricket team was the work of Indian agents. 2. the attack on PNS Mehran was the work of Ammerican agents. 3. The devastating floods last year were caused by Indians who can now control the water flow into Pakistani rivers because of all the illegal dams they have constructed up-river. 4. There are no Pakistani Taliban. The terrorist attacks around the country are the works of Americans in order to justify the Drone attacks and keep Pakistan involved in the war on terror. 5. If the Americans simply leave Pakistan all our problems will disappear instantly. There was a lot more in the same vein. My two American born and raised teenagers had this to say after wards: "Dad, people in your old country are Nuts".
Rashid Aug 03, 2011 10:28pm
Good article and well effort by writer to mould minds of pakistani....
Gajanan Taman Aug 04, 2011 09:29am
I find Pakistani youth is highly intelligent.They are fully concious of distortions in their educational system.My heart felt thanks to Ms Osmani and DAWN for thisarticle.
hamad Aug 05, 2011 09:31am
Pakistan cannot produce single world level scientist in her all life since birth. There must be some reason???? Of course it is that we are brought up with education that shuns our thinking process where we are discourage to raise questions by saying that accept this as it Divine knowledge on the name of supremacy of religion! Remember what Prof Abdus Slam said after his M.Sc in Mathematics from GCU,"either I should leave the country or science".He did latter. And what grim demonstrate proceeded by students of Quid e Azam university when he returned back to Pakistan for developing science institution here. By this precedent,one can calculate the narrowness,even by the educated class of Pakistan s most elite university. we have to review our text books at all.
Whereu Aug 07, 2011 07:17am
Right on the button ExMuslim. These people are incapable of dealing with any form of criticism. This can be the result of lack of confidence in what they believe. If they were confident they would counter criticism with logical discussion rather than with threats.
saman Aug 07, 2011 10:25pm
A thought provoking article. I wish Maheen you could write in urdu so that masses could really know the facts. Well Done, Maheen, I am poud of you.
Abdul Fattah Solangi Aug 13, 2011 06:00pm
Although the writer has attempted to touch the core issue but yet she has deeply gone into exaggerating the issue. Besides, she has really ignored the reality that except English and M. T no other subject is paid attention to including Islamic studies and Pakistan studies; even private school are no exception to it. What is in the syllabus, even the appointed teachers don't know. So the question of misguiding the students does not arise at all. JIHAD means strive and struggle. Had it not been taught in the primary or secondary schools, children would believe what some unlearned Mullahs told them, i.e. Holy War.