Pakistan’s Sindh province is to introduce to its education curriculum a speech made by the nation’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in which he called for an inclusive and impartial government, religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all.
The government hopes the speech, delivered to the country’s new constituent assembly on August 11, 1947, will help combat religious intolerance.
Minority communities in Pakistan have long called for the inclusion of the speech in the education curriculum to promote interfaith harmony.
“You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or cast or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State,” Jinnah told lawmakers.
“Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state,” Jinnah said in his address.
We are including Jinnah’s speech, in its entirety, so that the message remains clear, in course books for our children, Sindh Education Minister Nisar Khuhro said on Monday.
“The step, besides spreading awareness among the younger generation, would help them face and fight the mindset of intolerance found in many people today. They should understand that Pakistan was meant to be a secular nation where everyone has the right to follow their own religion,” he said.
The Catholic Church’s human rights body, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), welcomed the move.
“We appreciate the decision of the education minister. This has been one of our longstanding demands to purge the [school] curriculum of prejudice and hate,” Fr Saleh Diego, a Karachi archdiocese spokesman and NCJP regional head, told ucanews.com.
However, more needs to be done at federal and provincial levels to promote interfaith harmony in the country, he said.
“There is a lot of talk about Christians and other minorities being equal citizens of Pakistan. But we don’t see it in practical sense,” Diego said.
“There is a lot of hate material in our curricula. Federal and other provincial governments should follow suit to ensure that our next generations are taught the real vision of Jinnah,” he added.
Salim Michael, a legal adviser to the NCJP, also welcomed the move.
“Given the increasing numbers of attacks on minorities in Pakistan, it is encouraging that we are gradually realizing the importance of hate-free education for all,” he said.
Sindh Education Minister, Nisar Khuhro, center, says he hopes Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s 1947 speech will reverse religious intolerance. (Photo by ucanews.com)