Can Pakistan amend its curriculum to change ideologies: Shafaqna Exclusive


Pakistan is fighting against worst kind of terrorism of its history but infact it is not war between Pakistan military and terrorist but a clash of ideologies. Pakistan has not been able to reconcile its Islamic ideology with the Westphalian construct of the world of which it is a part. The Westphalian model of sovereignty that evolved from the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) created a multiplicity of states often founded on contradictory philosophies yet balancing each other. The birth of Pakistan necessitated a politico-religious project as a means to justify its existence as a nation distinct from India. Islam – which justified the creation of Pakistan – provided an identity for its sustenance and Pakistan embraced it immediately.

The institutions in Pakistan were deliberately and sometimes artificially coloured with Islamic ideology. The entire nation was on a mission to bolster its identity and ensure that it is devoid of any Indian influence. The impetus that this mission received waxed and waned through the history of independent Pakistan but a running thread of Islamic construct, quite at odds with the Westphalian model, has persisted. Its ambitions in Afghanistan and the desires to be the Islamic nuclear power, which it eventually did become, only reinforced the inherent tension between Islamic ideology and Westphalian world order.

One of the greatest manifestations of this tension is found in Pakistan’s education system. In a 2013 paper, Tufail Ahmad of the Middle East Media Research Institute pointed out the systematic distortion of history, social and religious studies in Pakistani textbooks aimed at resolving the identity crisis of Pakistan. The textbooks instill in students, sometimes quite radically, a spirit of jihad as an inextricable part of Pakistan’s Islamic credos. The books spew venom against Hindus, Jews and Christians and the same curriculum is forced on non-Muslim students.

The textbooks eulogize Muslim invaders like Mehmood Ghaznavi and Muhammad Ghori. The former is known for invading India seventeen times and plundering Hindu temples. The latter is known for defeating Prithviraj Chauhan in his second attempt. It is no coincidence that three of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles are named Ghaznavi, Ghori and Abdali, after three prominent Muslim invaders of medieval India.

Thus mere a military action against terrorists would not be enough but Pakistan will have to bring an ideological shift to stop phenomenon of terrorism. Until Pakistan changes its curriculum it can not defeat terrorist ideology.

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