Hard-line party wants Bacha Khan removed from Pakistani textbooks
The right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami has demanded that a chapter on freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or the Frontier Gandhi should be removed from Pakistani textbooks because he promoted secularism.world Updated: Feb 10, 2016 15:12 IST
The right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami has demanded that a chapter on freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or the Frontier Gandhi should be removed from Pakistani textbooks because he promoted secularism.
The Jamaat-e-Islami is part of the ruling coalition led by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the home province of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.
It demanded that the chapter on Khan, also known as Bacha Khan, be removed from school textbooks as he “promoted the ideals of secularism which go against the culture and ideology of Pakistan”.
The chapter was inserted in textbooks when the Awami National Party (ANP), to which Bacha Khan and his family have been affiliated, came to power in 2008.
Before the ANP formed the government, the Jamaat-e-Islami was in power in the volatile province and made amendments to the school curriculum to reflect its ideology and beliefs.
Bacha Khan, who was close to Mahatma Gandhi, was hounded by Pakistan’s political establishment for many years after the country’s creation in 1947. He was arrested several times in the 1940s and 1950s and then went into exile in Afghanistan in 1964. Following his death in 1988, he was buried in Afghanistan.
This month, the Jamaat-e-Islami again submitted a long list to the education department of what it deems “objectionable material” in textbooks used in government schools. It said such material is against Islamic and Pakistan’s norms.
But the chapter on Bacha Khan was not the only “objectionable material” referred to in a six-page letter sent by the Jamaat-e-Islami. The party also pointed out some “inappropriate” images of human sexual organs that appeared in the biology book for grade 10.
The Jamaat-e-Islami also expressed concern at the dresses of children shown in pictures printed in the English book for grade 2 and demanded the removal of some chapters on personalities and events related to Pakistan and Islamic history.
The party said it had proposed to the education department last year that “objectionable” pictures of children should be replaced with images of children wearing national dress in the English book for grade 2.
In the textbooks, two children described as a brother and sister can be seen wearing half-sleeve shirts, while their father is dressed in shirt and trousers, the letter pointed out.
The Jamaat-e-Islami also asked why preference had been given to western writers in the English syllabus for intermediate classes and not to Muslim and Pakistani writers.
In an interview with a newspaper, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mushtaq Ahmed Khan said secularism and western culture were unacceptable. “Our local culture, Islam and patriotism should be reflected in the textbooks,” he said.
“We have an agreement with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on education and are holding meetings time to time in this regard,” he said, adding that issues would be resolved amicably.
The provincial education department made several changes in textbooks last year on the recommendations of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The material removed included a chapter on Helen Keller in the English textbook and a chapter on existing problems in Pashto for grade 10.
First Published: Feb 10, 2016 15:12 IST