April 17, 2014
Chaitra Krushna Paksha Trutiya, Kaliyug Varsha 5116
TRANS ASIA NEWS
RAWALPINDI: Hindu families in Pakistan are unhappy that they and their progeny are being denied the opportunity to study their own religion in a country that promotes Islam by default. They worry that this is leading to an identity crisis of sorts for Hindus because Christians have the option to choose missionary schools and Muslims have their seminaries while Hindus have nowhere to go. They have now demanded that the provincial education ministry include the study of Hinduism in the curriculum for Hindu students in place of Islamiat or ethics.
According to The Express Tribune, Ethics is a substitute subject for Islamiat that non-Muslim students are allowed to take. However, Hindu families complain that the problem persists from the primary school level, even at private schools, where Hindu children are mostly taught Islamiat as a compulsory subject.
Omprakash Bhatia, a Hindu said, “I often cannot answer my children when they ask me who they are, Muslim or Hindus. Unfortunately we are treated as third-grade citizens of this country with no rights.”
He said, he once heard his daughter revising a lesson at home. The lesson was “Hum sub kaun hain? Hum sub Musalman hain’ (Who are we? We are all Muslim). We are left speechless when our children ask us to explain our religious identity,” he said.
Varsha, an MPhil student at Fatima Jinnah University in Rawalpindi, who scored a high 69 marks out of 75 in her Intermediate level Islamiat exam said most of Pakistan seems unwilling to accept religious diversity. “I got a first division grade in Islamiat and have a lot of knowledge about the religion. I am not against teaching it, but [as Hindus] we also have a right to learn about Hinduism in school,” she said.
Jag Mohan Arora, a parent, believes the denial of the right to learn about their own faiths amounts to the denial of religious diversity. “It must be included as a compulsory subject in the curriculum for Hindu students,” he insisted. According to him, the repetition of religious topics and the history of Islamic scholars and heroes is also widespread in the curricula for Urdu, Pakistan Studies, English and even science subjects. “They should teach it, but to Muslim students. As non-Muslim Pakistanis, we must have lessons about our own heroes and scholars,” he demanded.
Megha Arora, from Government Girls College Jhanda Chichi said without a separate subject available, there is no option but to study Islamiat. “The subject is compulsory on intermediate level, which makes it a must for us to learn.” She said she had scored 70 out of 75 in her Islamiat exam.
Hindu students and their parents also complained that the issue was brought to the notice of the authorities, but no one really cared to address it. They said Christian families can send their children to missionary schools to learn about the bible and Muslims can send their children to mosques and seminaries to study their religion, but other minorities lack such facilities.
Regardless of these complaints, Colleges Director Humayun Iqbal and Education Executive District Officer Qazi Zahoorul Haq rejected the legitimacy of the complaints of Hindu families saying Ethics is available as a subject for minorities. “They can opt for Ethics instead of Islamiat. They are not forced to opt for Islamiat,” they said.