BBC Urdu published a video on YouTube on Monday highlighting the inherent prejudice against Hindus that textbooks in Pakistan advocate. The video features several Pakistani Hindus who point out the rampant anti-Hindu propaganda peddled by school textbooks in Pakistan and narrate the painful humiliation they had to endure at the hands of their friends, colleagues and classmates, simply for being Hindus.
The video also demonstrates the normalisation of anti-Hindu bigotry in school textbooks officially sanctioned by the Pakistani government. Children, early on from their tender age, are conditioned to hate Hindus as state-sanctioned textbooks demonise them, refer to them ‘kafirs’ (derogatory slang for non-believers), and hold them responsible for all the evils besetting Pakistan.
The Pakistani Hindus in the video quote various school textbooks to showcase how school textbooks endorse hate against Hindus and Hinduism. These youths belonging to varying fields chalked up the intolerance towards Hindus in Pakistan to the state textbooks that carry prejudicial content against Hindus and characterise them as the source of all evils. They cited excerpts from school textbooks of different standards that perpetuated anti-Hindu bias and relegated Hindus to second-class citizens.
One of them, who identified himself as Rajesh Kumar, cited a Pakistani school textbook that described Hindus as ‘Kafirs’, meaning idolaters or those who worship idols, and alleged that Hindus were misogynists who buried their newborns alive if they happened to be girls.
Kumar cites the 11th and 12th-grade books of the Sindh Text Book Board to highlight the use of epithets like “enemies of humanity” to describe Hindus and Sikhs. He further adds that the book claims that Hindus and Sikhs killed thousands of women, men, and children.
Like Rajesh, others interviewed by the BBC also felt that Pakistani textbooks portrayed their faith incorrectly. Dr Rajwanti Kumar, a Hindu girl in Pakistan, said she was often jeered at by her classmates because she was a Hindu. Some of her classmates even asked her to celebrate the independence day not on August 14 but on August 15, India’s independence day.
The books in Pakistan tend to push a narrative that Hindu minorities in the country are loyal to their neighbouring country and arch-nemesis India. In this way, perception is raised among the Muslim students that Hindus in their country are traitorous and have no patriotic feeling for Pakistan.
Dr Kumar cited the 9th and 10th-grade books to point out how Pakistani books characterise Hindus as treacherous and deceitful. She says the books claim that Muslims and Hindus joined hands to fight against the oppressive British regime. However, the association could not last long because of the perpetual hostility displayed by Hindus towards Muslims.
Others who were interviewed for the documentary also highlighted specific excerpts from Pakistani textbooks where Hindus and Hinduism were vilified.
Hindus villainised in textbooks to justify the decision of partitioning away from India: Pak Educationist
According to well-known Pakistani educationist AH Nayyar, hatred against Hindus is couched in a subtle way in Pakistani books. He explains when the history of Pakistan is taught, the battle between the Muslim league and Congress is portrayed as a fight between Muslims and Hindus.
In a sense, Nayyar says, Hindus are projected as villains in Pakistani textbooks, in a bid to justify the founding of Pakistan and the politics behind it.
He highlights another key problem in the Pakistani textbooks. He says while the history of Muslim rule is prominently presented in these books, there is no mention of Hindu history. The history of the subcontinent, for example, begins with the arrival of Muslims in the region. There is no mention of past Hindu rulers who preceded the Muslim rule in the region.
Hindus and minorities in Pakistan live under a constant threat of persecution
This unadulterated hatred against Pakistani Hindu ultimately manifests in the crimes carried out against Hindus in Pakistan. Minorities in Pakistan, especially Hindus, live in a perpetual fear of persecution. Hindus are implicated in fake cases of blasphemy. Their daughters are abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to their captors.
Even the courts fail to do justice for Hindus in Pakistan. In fact, in some cases, the courts have actively participated in perpetuating injustice to the Hindu and Christian minorities. In June 2020, a district magistrate allowed a Muslim man to keep his Hindu wife even after the parents of the girl alleged that their daughter was kidnapped and forcibly married off to the man.