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WASHINGTON POST: "US supplied textbooks with violent images to Afghans"
by Saima Alvi
25 March 2002 11:21 UTC
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24 March 2002  Sunday 

US supplied textbooks with violent images to Afghans 

By Our Staff Correspondent 

WASHINGTON, March 23: In what will be seen as a distinctly ironic twist to 
the campaign against religious extremism, it has been revealed that during 
the anti-Soviet drive , the United States spent millions of dollars to 
supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with militant Islamic 
teaching and violent images. 

The Washington Post said in a report on Saturday the textbooks formed part 
of covert US attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation of 

"The primers," the paper said, "which were filled with talk of jihad and 
features drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since 
then as the Afghan school system's core curriculum." 

The Taliban also used the same textbooks - but after scratching out human 
faces in keeping with its strict interpretation of Islamic injunctions. 

As Afghan schools reopen on Sunday, the Post report said, "the United 
States is back in the business of providing school books. But now it is 
wrestling with the unintended consequences of its successful strategy of 
stirring Islamic fervour to fight communism. What seemed like a good idea 
in the context of the Cold War is being criticized by humanitarian workers 
as a crude tool that steeped a generation in violence." 

This US strategy was of course not confined to the writing of textbooks, 
observers here point out, but was practised on a wider political level by 
funding and encouraging extremist and right-wing Islamic organizations 
throughout the world. It was a deliberate strategy worked out by America's 
cold warriors. 

According to the Post, a "scrubbing" operation was launched last month in 
Pakistan to purge all references to rifles and killing from the textbooks. 
But many of the four million books now being sent into Afghanistan still 
feature Quranic verses and Islamic tenets. About 18 of the 200 titles the 
US is republishing are primarily Islamic instructional books, described as 
civics courses. 

The books were published in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the 
University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Centre for Afghan Studies. The agency 
reportedly spent US$51 million on the university education programmes in 
Afghanistan during the fight against Soviet occupation. 

Saima Alvi
Research Assistant
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Opposite Sector U, DHA, Lahore-54792
Tel.: 5722670-79; Ext.: 2165

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