Prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and other religious groups are encouraged in Pakistani schools.
According to a study by a US government commission, most teachers in these schools view non-Muslims ad “enemies of Islam.”
The findings show how deeply ingrained extreme forms of Islam are in Pakistan and seem to explain why militancy is often tolerated and even excused and supported in the country.
“Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security,” Leonard Leo, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom told the Dawn newspaper.
Pakistan was formed in 1947, as a country for the Muslims of South Asia and was originally created as a peaceful state where inhabitants would have full rights.
But three wars with Hindu India and support for militants fighting Sovient-rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s are some of the reasons behind radicalisation.
Those who have spoken against intolerance have been killed by militant sympathizers.
The commission said that any individual who attempts to combat discrimination, particularly in education, will “face strong opposition.”
More than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from Pakistan’s four provinces have been reviewed in the study.
This February, researchers interviewed 277 students and teachers and 19 madrases, where 226 students and teachers were questioned.
The report found negative portrayals of Hindus and other minorities, including Christians to a lesser extent.
”Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” the report said.
”Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.”