Pakistan’s religious minorities included in school textbooks

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History courses for grade 8, 10 and 11 students will contain references to the role Christians, Hindus and Sikhs played in building the country after independence. The successful changes to the curriculum is the work of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association (PMTA). Excerpts from the first speech to the country’s Constituent Assembly by Pakistan founder Ali Jinnah, with references to freedom of religion and equality between citizens, will be included as well.


The Pakistan Minorities Teachers' Association (PMTA) was successful in getting schools to include references acknowledging  the positive role played by minorities in the founding of Pakistan. For PMTA president Anjum James Paul, a Christian, "This new development will be an asset to reduce intolerance towards Christians, Hindus and Sikhs, who have been persecuted and discriminated in various ways across the country."


Chapter 8, ‘Population, society and culture of Pakistan’ in the Pakistan Studies course for Grade 10 students will cover the role played by minorities in Pakistan. Chapter 5, ‘Fight for Pakistan’, will do the same for Grade 8 students.

 

Excerpts from the first official speech of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah will also be included. In that address, the Quaid-e-Azam ("Great Leader") expressed hope that the newborn country would become a pluralist democracy based on equality of citizens and the rule of law.


Pakistan’s religious minorities included in school textbooks

Here are some of the excerpts on the role of minorities in Pakistan (Edited byAsiaNews):


The rights of the minorities have been fully protected in the 1973 constitution of Pakistan. According to the constitution, they have full rights. They have complete liberty to worship according to their religious, perform customs, transmit and publish their religious principles and set up their own religious organizations. They have been given separate representation in Pakistan’s constitution. The government abolished the separate system of elections and put into practice the mixed system of elections. This way, the long awaited demand of the minorities was fulfilled. In the National Assembly, ten seats have been reserved for the minorities. Eight seats have been reserved in the Punjab Assembly, nine in the Sindh Assembly, 11 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and three in the Baluchistan Assembly. In our federal and provincial cabinets, a non-Muslim minister is usually included. In the economic field too, citizens have been given equal opportunities so that they can improve their financial conditions.


To obtain government employment, the minorities have the same rights as the Muslims. The constitution of Pakistan provides equal political, economic and social rights to all citizens from which good citizenship is promoted. Minorities living in Pakistan should be aware of their rights and responsibilities. It is their responsibility to be faithful to their country. Rising above all kinds of prejudices, they must elect a people’s representative who should work for the country’s stability.


Status of the minorities in the light of the Quaid-e-Azam’s speech on 11 August 1947.

On 11 August 1947, the Quaid-e-Azam (RA) while making a speech regarding the place of minorities after the partition of India “it was impossible to avoid the question of minorities being in one Dominion or the other. Now that was unavoidable.


[However,] every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste, or creed, is first, second, and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.


[. . .] you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed -- that has nothing to do with the business of the State.


As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now, there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class.


[. . .] Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.”


When a journalist asked the Quaid-e-Azam a brief statement, as the governor general, about the problems of minorities, he said,


“Presently, I am a nominated governor general. Let us assume for a moment that on 15th August 1947 I shall actually be the governor general of Pakistan.


“After this assumption, let me tell you that the minorities will be protected. No matter which faith they belong to. Their religion and faith will be safe in their freedom to worship. There will be no interference in their freedom to worship. Their religions, faiths, their life and their culture will be secure. Without any discrimination of caste and creed and faith, in all respects, they shall be citizens of Pakistan. They will be provided with rights and privileges. Minorities will play their role in the affairs of the state as long as they are faithful and well- wishers of the state in the true sense. As long as I have power, they should not have any doubts. I expect that the Muslims in India will receive the same kind of fair treatment that we intend to give the non-Muslim minorities.”


Shafique Khokhar
Source: asianews.it (May 5, 2015)