Text book Reforms

Daily Times, July 29, 2006
Include Jesus in our textbooks, says Aitzaz
Staff Report

LAHORE: Pakistan People Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) member of the national assembly Aitzaz Ahsan has asked the federal education minister to include a chapter on Jesus Christ and Christianity in the Punjab Textbook Board’s Ethics textbook for grade nine and the Sindh Textbook Board’s textbook for grades nine and ten.

In a letter to Federal Education Minister Lt Gen (r) Javed Ashraf Qazi, he said that while these books had chapters on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Shri Krishan Jee and Guru Nanak, there was no mention of Jesus Christ, which was tantamount to discrimination against the Christian community of Pakistan. Aitzaz said that he would take up the matter in the National Assembly and demanded that immediate steps be taken to resolve the situation.

Talking about the invaluable contributions of eminent Christians, he recalled the efforts of former chief justice AR Cornelius and Squadron Leader Cecil Chaudhry and said that Christians were just as much a part of Pakistan as Muslims.

He said that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had promised minorities a safe, secure and prosperous future in Pakistan and had pledged that the distinction between minorities and majorities would be wiped out in Pakistan.

Along with the letter, Mr Ahsan sent the copies of the table of contents of the textbooks. These show that there are chapters on the Prophet Moses, the saint Ghautam Sidharath Buddha, Zoroaster, the Hindu god Shri Krishan Jee, and Guru Nanak besides the Holy Prophet (PBUH). However, there is no chapter on the Prophet Jesus Christ (AS). “Was this omission deliberate? If so who is responsible for it?” asked Ahsan. He said that the first book carried a message by Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. The second starts with a preface by Prof Mohammad Qasim Mazhar of the Sindh Education Ministry.

In the letter, Mr Ahsan highlighted, what he said, the sorry state of affairs of minorities in Pakistan. He said that whatever the government may say, the status of minorities in Pakistan since the so-called “Islamisation” by General Ziaul Haq had fast deteriorated. “We keep accusing India of mistreating its minorities. And rightly so. But India still has 180 million Muslims, just to take one minority community alone. This is a number larger than the total population of Pakistan. They comprise about 15 percent of the total population of India. Other minorities add up to much more,” he said.

Mr Ahsan referred to a recent speech by General Pervez Musharraf in which he had pointed out that Pakistan was 98 percent Muslim. “He may take pride in this fact but it does shame me that we have driven our minorities away! At Partition we had a vibrant 18-20 percent minority population. The number has literally been decimated during and since the Zia period.” Mr Ahsan writes.

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