ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers in the upper house of parliament were shocked to learn on Tuesday that textbooks in Punjab and Sindh define the Baloch as an ‘uncivilised people’. Subsequently, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani took up the matter with the chief ministers of the two provinces.
Rabbani called up Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to point out the abusive definition of the ‘Baloch’ in Sociology textbooks of Intermediate Part-II. A day earlier he raised the issue with Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah.
Shah promised to hold an inquiry and share its findings with the house whereas Shahbaz informed the Senate chairman that he had already ordered an inquiry into the matter.
According to a statement issued by the Senate Secretariat, Rabbani said the abusive definition of ‘Baloch’ was an attempt to expose the country to uncertainty and discontinuity in the democratic process.
The ‘Baloch’ are the ‘pride of Pakistan’, Rabbani said and reiterated that the Senate would make all-out efforts to ensure that the youth of Pakistan was provided with factually and historically correct information.
On March 11, National Party Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi drew the house attention to the incendiary definition through a point of public importance. Waving a copy of the Sociology textbook in the house, he said: “This is what the children of Punjab are taught.” Chairman Rabbani looked on in disbelief as Shahi read out the definition of the ‘Baloch’.
“Meaning of the Baloch is an uncivilised people who remain busy fighting and killing. In another dictionary, it has been written that the Baloch are those people who lived in the desert and looted caravans,” Shahi read from the textbook.
Further reading from the book, he said: “The Baloch do not allow their women to work.” A visibly angry Shahi added. “Allow me to say that the book’s authors are ignorant,”
In response, leader of the house Raja Zafarul Haq said that “it was a conspiracy against the country,” and expressed surprise over the fact that it had gone unnoticed for so long.
Rabbani informed the house that the Senate Secretariat has started an exercise of looking into textbooks so that they would accurately and factually represent constitutional history.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2016.