The indoctrination of Pakistan's population makes a durable peace impossible in South Asia

One of Pakistan’s eminent historians K.K Aziz first made the point that Pakistani history being taught in schools had been revised and made into a propaganda tool. Read a synopsis by a Pakistani journalist here.

This has been reported on by independent sources as well. Christian science monitor carried a story on this a few years ago.

And today, a US government commission report has again highlighted this

The textbooks also falsely state that all wars between India-Pakistan were started by India and won by Pakistan, when they were in fact started by Pakistan, and draws/losses for the most part.

In all fairness, there is a great deal of credit to be given to the elements of Pakistani society that have highlighted this problem in the first place. However, it is my understanding that these elements are a significant minority, and are growing smaller all the time. I believe the term ‘liberal fascists’ :eek: is applied to them by popular Pakistani commentators.

Also, there is a great deal of quite ridiculous jingoistic nationalism against Pakistan in India as well. However, there are two crucial differences. One - School children are not taught made up ‘facts’ that Muslims are second-rate people and that Pakistan is an existential threat to Hindus and India. Two - It stems from a slant in the media, not curriculum. The ‘enemy’ such as it is, is the Pakistani military and the ISI, not the Pakistani people/Muslims. This view of course has the added virtue of being pretty close to the truth (I think by now most of the world would agree)

How can two countries work towards a fair and just peace if the population of one is taught from childhood to hate the other on a false premise?

Something always comes along to correct these things. The people of Pakistan mostly thought the 1971 war with India would be a smashing victory, because state media had been telling them it would be (indeed, had told them that the army and air force had destroyed more aircraft and tanks than India actually possessed).

I just hope another war isn’t the correction.

Well yes, but the result of the 1971 loss wasn’t to cause a correction in the propaganda. It fueled greater disinformation. Again from the K.K Aziz article linked to in the OP

A favorite pastime when I was in school in Pakistan (in the late 70s, early 80s) was to compare the figures quoted in the history and geography textbooks with the figures in the statistical tables in the back of the same books. The propagandists were apparently too lazy or disorganized to change the tables to match the bogus figures they inserted into the text.

So nobody was fooled by any of this stuff? Or were you just sharper than your fellow students?

yeah, so? They kill a few hundred people per year via terrorism and have a low key war every 25 years (having a real war probably being too much to ask from both sides). What with the huge populations and economies that are structurally immune to this, who gives a damn?


code_grey, you’re being a jerk here. You’ve been told about this before, so I’m giving you a formal warning. The staff will be discussing your posting privileges.

Right. Who cares about dead brown people so long it does not do economic harm?:rolleyes:

90% of the students were happy to feed at the propaganda trough. 9% just kept their heads down. The other 1% ran the risk of getting beaten up when they got too uppity. Has very little to do with how sharp you are. Our education system (certainly through grade 12) wasn’t focused on inquiry by the students. More like rote learning, regurgitation and very occasionally “guess what the teacher believes and put it down” games.

And this was in a Catholic school. The situtation in the ritzy “Public” schools (really nonsectarian private schools) was better, by all accounts. But 99% of the students attended public schools, where the religious and political propaganda machine ran full throttle.

What happens in the madrassas takes this to the lunatic exteme. But the mainstream education was pretty bad.

But this is back in the 1970s and 1980s, during most of which time the country was under the autocratic rule of a religious zealot, Zia ul Haq. Don’t know what the curriculum is like now. There have been two periods of democratic rule and one of a military dictator who was a lot more moderate, from a religious standpoint (and a lot less autocratic to boot) than Gen Zia was.

no I am not being a jerk. This is Great Debates, for God’s sake. I am pointing out that the issue in OP is blown out of all proportions, for specific factual reasons I brought up. You are engaging in deliberate censorship of viewpoints you don’t like and are trying to get me banned for no reason. And somebody else upthread is joining this “debate” by accusing me of racism, i.e. by name-calling. Fighting ignorance indeed.

You could have raised that point in any number of ways, but you chose “What with the huge populations and economies that are structurally immune to this, who gives a damn?” It’s definitely a jerk thing to say.

I think saying “who gives a damn?” to a few hundred needless terrorist murders per year is a little bit jerkish… Or at least threadshitting. Why shouldn’t we be interested in the issue of Pakistani-Indian peace and the obstacles in its way? Why rain on the idea of even discussing it?

ETA: Marley’s post wasn’t there when I started this one.

While your method of bringing up points has already been censured, I’ll address your specific ‘factual’ points, for those others who may agree with the thrust of your statements, even if they don’t care for your jerkishness in framing them.
The Pakistani economy is hardly ‘immune’ to the wave of radicalisation sweeping across the country. The constant hammering in of the ‘threat’ from India leads to a great degree of support for the massive proportion of the budget that goes to the military(15-20% IIRC). This causes reduced spending on health and education, and leads to the very ‘structural’ defects that you seem to think Pakistan is immune from. They’ve been growing very slowly for a fairly long time now. The Indian economy’s doing better, but peace would doubtless provide an additional boost.

Why should the world give a damn? Americans should care because the US would long ago have accomplished their objectives in Afghanistan without Pakistani support for the Taliban. A large proportion of terrorist attacks/plots throughout the world are traced back to Pakistan or people of ‘Pakistani descent’. Do you think Pakistani people are inherently evil? Of course not. The indoctrination that they undergo makes them more susceptible to a) Commit terrorism in the first place - this is mostly the lunatic fringe, but even they’re growing larger b) Support terrorism and terrorists in the name of attacking the evil Indians/Americans c) And this is my main point - Refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem, their military/government has made mistakes, and these need to be rectified. The number of conspiracy theories that do the rounds in Pakistan and the credibility they obtain is often remarked on. Example here. Is this really so surprising if they’ve been fed conspiracy theories as truth in school? How do you expect them to differentiate between the two?
And all this is without even bringing up the issue of nuclear weapons. Islamic/radical indoctrination in Pakistani armed forces is an accepted phenomenon. There was inside support in the recent attack on a Pakistani naval base. Reportedly, the group within the army that handles their nuclear weapons is screened for radicalisation. Yet, when even the formal education system takes a hand in indoctrination, I’m very skeptical of what such screening can achieve and think it’s a cause for concern. Or does a few hundred thousand people dying from a nuclear explosion also count as ‘low key’ for you?

All my cites are recent, so it doesn’t seem like much has changed.

Let’s look at this situation another way: are the billions of dollars the US has given Pakistan for its “aid” in the War on Terror good or bad for peace?

You are not “pointing out that the issue in the OP is blown out of all proportions”, whatever that means.

In fact, you are making the OP’s point for him; he doesn’t make any judgments about the level of conflict between India and Pakistan. Instead, he simply points out that the conflict exists, and may be endemic.

Rather than contribute anything of value to the discussion, you gave it as your opinion that other people shouldn’t care about a few hundred Indians or Pakistanis being killed every year.

Guess what? Other people do. This debate isn’t about whether code_grey gives a shit about the Indian subcontinent.

One way I do want to look at it is if there are any precedents for treaties including the removal of false/propaganda material from the education systems of the participating countries. Wasn’t Germany under some pressure to prevent Holocaust denial for example? How was it accomplished?

It was accomplished by the U.S. invading and occupying the country after World War II. Holocaust denial and the display of Nazi symbols is still illegal in Germany and I don’t know whether those laws were passed during the occupations or after, but there was also the small matter of the war discrediting the Nazis’ ideas.

Quite a long time after, in fact. The German public incitement law was passed in 1985, and the provisions about Holocaust denial weren’t added until 1992.

Oh, I meant to ask if the contents of the education system were defined by the post-war treaty or some such. I absolutely agree that the circumstances are completely different. Just to clarify though - Are you saying the war was necessary to discredit the Nazi ideas? Or just to enforce dissemination of the fact that they were not to be credited?

Even then it isn’t a good example, just the only one I could think of on short notice. If examples of other approaches to combat propaganda (including the approach where peace comes first, and the propaganda goes away later) are known, I’d be glad to hear them.