PESHAWAR - The re-induction of verses from noble Qur'an about Jihad by the coalition government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province, which borders Afghanistan, has invited praise and ire from religious and secular circles respectively.
All the coalition partners have unanimously approved the re-induction of verses about Jihad in the curriculum as their omission had no other aim except to appease the foreign masters, Hashmatullah Khan, a provincial minister representing Jamat-e-Islami, one of the country's two mainstream religious parties told OnIslam.net.
We will not design our curriculum on the directives or guidelines of foreign countries and donors, Hashmatullah, whose party had earlier been allotted the education ministry, added.
Qur'an Verses about Jihad has had been omitted from the curriculum of Islamic learning by the left-wing Awami National Party (ANP) that ruled the province from 2008 to May 2013.
The move by ANP to omit the verses has been criticized as applying a typical west interpretation of verses as encouraging youth to join militant groups.
After the ANP conceded a heavy defeat in May 2013 elections, the coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province, led by cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), took the decision to re-induct the verses in school curriculum.
The decision has been widely appreciated among religious circles which threw its weight behind the PTI-led government.
This decision should not be seen as victory of Islamists and defeat of seculars, Mufti Mohammad Naeem, chancellor of the International Binoria University Karachi, told OnIslam.net.
These verses were omitted for no educational reasons but just on the pretext that their presence in the syllabus did not portray a soft image of Pakistan in the world, which was totally wrong, Mufti Naeem observed.
Maulana Amir Mansuri, a Karachi-based religious scholar agrees.
Jihad will continue till the day of judgment according to noble Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon Him). Therefore, omission of verses about Jihad will never work, Mansuri said.
Every single verse from noble Qur'an is equally important. Therefore, replacing a verse about Jihad by a verse about compassion, honesty, bravery or simplicity does not cause any harm. But, if the intention behind the motive is to ease the West's pressure, that means we accept their misinterpretation about Jihad, he opined.
Therefore, Mansuri said, instead of omitting verses about Jihad, the previous government should have gone for dispelling the West's wrong impression (about Jihad, rather than surrendering.
In fact, the omission of verses (about Jihad) on an external pressure would leave out youths vulnerable to West's propaganda about Jihad, he thought.
Opposing the fresh move by the KP government, secular p[arties and analysts think that the PTI-led coalition government is playing politics on education.
When Imran Khan had refused to give education ministry to Jamat-e-Islami, we thought he would keep the politics and religion at distance especially in case of education, Najam Sethi, a former interim chief minister of Punjab province, and an Islamabad-based analyst, told OnIslam.net.
But it seems if Jamat has succeeded to enforce its agenda by using his (Imran Khan) shoulders.
Sethi, who is also holding the acting charge of Pakistan Cricket Board because of his close association with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, added that omission of verses about Jihad from syllabus does not mean promotion of secularism.
This is just modernity and nothing else, Sethi said.
Politics and religion should not be mixed because when one good thing (religion) is mixed with one bad thing (politics), then the bad thing overcomes, he narrated his philosophy.
He advised IMran Khan not to let Jamat-e-Islami pursue its agenda by using his shoulders.
Falling under pressures, the PTI backtracked on its decision following criticism from secular circles that apprehended that the JI would try to implement its agenda by designing curriculum in line with its own interpretation of Islam.
The PTI was also pressurized by the foreign donor agencies which have been assisting the province in education field for the same.
Jihad is an integral part of Islam. This is our duty to acquaint our generations about the true meaning of Jihad, otherwise they could be mislead by wrong and interest-based interpretation by the West, he opined.
If we have to quit the government on the issue, we would not wait for a minute to do that.
Hashmatullah says that his party would not compromise on the issue.
The motive behind re-induction of verses is to make it clear that we will never pursue and defensive approach vis-Ã -vis Jihad. And that's it, he said.
This is one part of our efforts to introduce one curriculum throughout the province, which has never happened in the history. Our opponents should join hands with us on this front rather than point scoring just to appease the outsiders, he remarked.
Maulana Mansuri agrees opining that omission or inclusion of verses from syllabus will not cause any harm to Jihad.
However, a defense approach in this regard is no doubt a matter of shame for ourselves, he added.