I see a small, innocent and anxious boy as he walks towards a local Madrasa, ready to embark on his journey in the field of academics. He enters the classroom, full of ambivalence. On one hand he is thrilled at the prospect of learning new things and making friends while on the other he is intimated by the alien environment. The teacher enters, and to the surprise of most students present there, the first thing he writes on the blackboard is ‘A for Allah’ and ‘B for bandook’. This is the story of not only one child but thousands others in Islamic countries, especially Pakistan. Textbooks in these countries are promoting non-Islamic people as enemies of their religion. When Pakistan was formed in 1947, it was envisaged as a state where minorities would have equal rights. Three wars with India (where majority of the population is Hindu) and satisfying of the demands of various religiously motivated groups by weak Pakistani governments has led to a slow and radicalization of society. Protesting groups have been threatened with death by these religious groups. As a result, even the course material for students has got Islamized.
All textbooks being sold were carefully examined by renowned academicians from US and UK and the results were shocking. Minorities are portrayed as inferior citizens who have been granted permission to reside by generous Muslims. Hindus in particular are criticized in most books as being cruel and unjust. Young children are taught that there are anti-Islamic forces which are hell-bent on eradicating Muslims from the earth. It is ingrained into their minds that they are the ‘Allah ka Bandah’ (god sent) and it is their duty to protect their religion. Class V students are asked to prepare speeches on topics such as ‘shehadat’ and ‘jehad’.
This kind of a curriculum has a devastating effect on a child’s psyche. At a time when they are supposed to be playing, reading comics, watching cartoons etc., they are being made to read the Quran six hours a day and are preached false beliefs. However, it is not only about the stagnant personality development. Such teachings can have sinister consequences, say many top psychologists. When a child is between six to twelve years old, his/her brain is in the primitive stages and can be compared to that of a monkey in certain aspects. They tend to pick up whatever they see or hear in their surroundings, resulting in the creation of an indelible mental impression. Till the time these children become young adults they have been brainwashed in so many different ways that their own identity is lost.
They start behaving just like robots. Fear is something that curbs us from doing something wrong. These children score a zero on the emotion meter. They lose all fear (even the fear of death).Thus, they are ready to do anything they are commanded. Therefore they can be easily used for conducting jeopardous activities. An epitome to this theory would be Ajmal Kasab, who joined a terrorist training school at the age of 12 and emerged out of it as a monster who took so many lives. The level of radicalism in youth can even exceed dangerous levels. At this point they even lose the sense of religion. Whosoever is against them becomes their foe. This has currently become a cause of concern for Pakistan.
The numerous ‘Frankensteins’ they had created to protect themselves are now destroying their own country. Till now, all attempts of bringing about educational reforms have gone in vain. If the current trends remain unchanged, there may soon come a time when Pakistan is ruled by terrorists. Drastic measures need to be taken. Changes can occur only if the adults are willing to accept minorities as their own and foster a spirit of diversity because in the end children always learn from elders.