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Shall We Allow Subversion of Education, As Was Done In East Pakistan? 

Shall We Allow Subversion of Education, As Was Done In East Pakistan? 

Muhammad Abd al-Hameed

THE 18th Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan (passed in 2010) entrusted curriculum and syllabi and preparation and publication of textbooks entirely to the Textbook Boards of the provinces. Shall we suffer the same consequences in our provinces as occurred in East Pakistan in 1960’s?

Qudratulla Shahab, Secretary to President Ayub Khan and later Education Secretary, describes in his Shahab-nama (pages 895-897) how Indians succeeded in subverting education in East Pakistan. His team traced a number of textbooks that were against our integrity and national interests but had been formally approved by the East Pakistan Textbook Board. The History of Pakistan for intermediate classes had been written by a Hindu in Calcutta but was published in Dhaka under the false name of a Muslim. It was a seditious book, distorting historical facts and contradicting the objectives of the creation of Pakistan.

The textbooks were shown to Governor Abdul Monem Khan, with the request for their deletion from the approved list of textbooks. He was also urged to review thoroughly the performance of the Textbook Board. Shahab, as Education Secretary, met him several times to urge action but in vain. The Governor would say some harsh words against the Textbook Board, but the objectionable textbooks were never banned.

Shahab heard people say that the Textbook Board was under the control of some relatives and cronies of Governor Monem. They managed to get the objectionable books approved in return for heavy bribes from India and would not allow ban on them.

To protect national interests in education, Shahab arranged for a high-level meeting that was attended by the President, Governors and Education Ministers of both provinces. A number of major proposals were approved unanimously. Experts from all areas would formulate the curricula and syllabi for classes 1-12 at the national level. The Central Textbook Board would prepare and publish textbooks, with the two provincial boards acting as its agents. No educational institution would use any textbook not approved by the Central Board.

Shahab was told at the end of the meeting that the proposals should be put up for the approval of the Governors’ Conference but, despite several attempts, the proposals were never included in its agenda on one pretext or the other.

The transfer of the complete Concurrent List was an insidious move by politicians. There were many subjects that should have been retained with the center in the national interest. Their transfer weakened the country.

Shall we face the same situation as Shahab did in East Pakistan? Will the provincial politicians and their cronies allow similar distortions and sabotage in textbooks? Will heavy bribes from enemies, local as well as foreign, play havoc with education? Will the objective of Pakistan’s creation be distorted? Will Mahmud Ghaznavi, Shahbuddin Ghauri, Zaheeruddin Babar, and others be called “plunderers and looters”, rather than our heroes? Will the textbooks in Sindh project Raja Dahir as the national hero and Muhammad bin Qasim as a foreign invader? Will Ghaffar Khan be treated as the greatest leader of the movement for Pakistan? Will the students in Balochistan be taught that they live under occupation?

Higher Education Commission was saved with great effort. Will anybody do the same for curricula and syllabi to keep it under federal control? 

Muhammad Abd al-Hameed is the author of the book "Ghurbat kaise mit sakti hai" (Classic, Lahore)


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