As Pakistan battles radical Islam in different parts of the country, the base laid in the mid-70s, when children in schools and madrasas were introduced to an extremist syllabus, are now showing results.
An illustrated Urdu primer, published in Rawalpindi, the Pakistani Army garrison town near Islamabad, may not be an officially approved text book. But even now, it is being used by some regular schools and madrasas associated with the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), a hardline Islamist party that allied itself with Pervez Musharraf when he was President, as a learning tool.
The illustrations in the primer have the letters of the Urdu alphabet with accompanying images: “Alif (A) for Allah, Bay (B) for bundooq (gun), Tay for takrao (collision), Jeem for jihad…”. Takrao is colourfully depicted by the image of the 9/11 planes crashing into the World Trade Centre.
A curriculum document prepared by Pakistan’s National Bureau of Curriculum and Textbooks, under the Federal Ministry of Education, 1995, wants children at the end of Class 5 to be able to:
* Make speeches on jihad and shahadata (martyrdom)
* Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan
* Understand Hindu-Muslim differences and the resultant requirements for Pakistan
Leading lights of Pakistan’s civil society have compiled these details, pointing to the damage that has been done through such propaganda.
“Pakistan’s self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that, like Saudi Arabia’s, provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists,” wrote Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani academic, in the magazine Newsline.
Pakistan’s Talibanisation is taking place from its schools. And these schoolchildren are making Pakistan’s future.