Hindus are thugs, killed Muslims, to blame for Partition: Pak textbook

Islamabad: In a government-approved grade five history textbook used in schools in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, Hindus are described as “thugs” who “massacred Muslims, confiscated their property, and forced them to leave India”.

According to a story in Hindustan Times, a newspaper, a Pakistani high school student Noman Afzal ‘knows’ “traitorous” Hindus are to blame for the bloodshed that erupted when British India split into two nations 70 years ago.

Students across the border in India are taught a starkly different version of events, the result of a decades-long effort by the nuclear-armed rivals to shape and control history to their own nationalistic narrative.

“They looked down upon us, that is why we created Pakistan,” said 17-year-old Afzal from Pakistan’s Punjab province, reeling off a stock answer from his history textbook.

On the other side of the border, Mumbai schoolboy Triaksh Mitra learned how Mahatma Gandhi fought for a unified India free from British subjugation while the Muslim League — the political party led by Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah — sided with the colonial rulers to carve out their own nation.

“But what they hadn’t really told us was the Muslim side of it,” the 15-year-old said of his Partition studies.

“In our history we won the war, and in their history textbooks, they won the war,” said Dhakaan.

“By the time they are 20, it is solidified and stays with them all their lives,” Qasim Aslam said of the one-sided history lessons proffered in schools.

Mumbai-based student Mitra attended one of these sessions in April.

“It helped me to take a different viewpoint into account and to form a more balanced notion,” Mitra said.

“If I know only one part, then it’s not the complete truth.”

Islamabad-based Pakistan studies professor Tariq Rehman said that correcting bias in the official syllabi “would take a change in foreign policy” between the two countries.

“Authorities (in Pakistan) don’t seem to be interested in making changes and question the antagonism against India,” he added.

But there are small signs of progress. The latest revision of the state history textbook in India includes graphic first-hand accounts of atrocities committed by Hindus, and asks students if the violence could be considered a holocaust.



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