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Pakistan: Do school texts fuel bias?

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An act of parliament that year required all government and private schools (except those teaching the British O-levels from Grade 9) to follow a curriculum that includes learning outcomes for the federally approved Grade 5 social studies class such as: "Acknowledge and identify forces that may be working against Pakistan," "Make speeches on Jihad," "Collect pictures of policemen, soldiers, and national guards," and "India's evil designs against Pakistan."

"It sounds like the blueprint for a religious fascist state," says Professor Hoodbhoy. "You have a country where generations have grown up believing they are surrounded on all sides by enemies, they are the only righteous ones, and the world is out to get them."

It is this siege mentality that led to some of the head-in-the-sand reactions by the Pakistani media and public in the aftermath of Mumbai, he suggests.

"There was a flat denial that it could be Pakistanis," he says. "Anyone suggesting the contrary was labeled an enemy of the state or unpatriotic. When I said on television there are groups in this country dedicated to harming India – the furor ... was quite astonishing."

Amanullah Kariapper, a young software engineer and cofounder of Young Professionals of Lahore, an informal alliance dedicated to human rights causes, agrees.

Mr. Kariapper says he began revising his world views when he went to college, first at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and later in Grenoble, France. The process came full circle when he was briefly arrested in November 2007 for protesting former President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency and suspension of civil rights.

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