Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Anti-Quote, really. From The Daily Times, Pakistan.

This time, apart from the Shabab-e-Milli and other such ‘religious’ organisations, there was a sequence of banners on Lahore’s Mall Road carrying pictures of Mian Nawaz Sharif and his brother Mian Shahbaz Sharif. Most of them bore the usual inane versification. One banner that caught my eye read “Hindu bania muzammat se nahin murammat se maney ga” roughly translated as “The Hindu money-lender will not mend his ways through persuasion but will have to be physically fixed”.

It is his Urdu syllabus that I find most dangerous. He has two books for Urdu, one a selection of literature and the other prepared by none other than the Punjab Textbook Board. The latter is compulsory for all children in mainstream school systems. Children in private schools read it partially.

The students are being fed a strange concoction of half-Islam and half-patriotism in the name of Urdu. Once again the Islam part is innocuous; some stories about the life of prophet are actually inspiring. The patriotic stories are scary, to say the least. This is what the Yom-e-Difaa lesson was all about. The way it constructs the ‘enemy’, distorts facts and creates a false sense of superiority is bound to stay in the minds of impressionable young children and turn them into inflexible conservative adults who refuse to move beyond their extreme views.