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Students in Pakistan Protest Against Dance, Music in Curriculum

Eight Pakistani student organisations have launched a campaign against Punjab University's (PU) move to introduce studies in dance, music and theatre, saying //'enlightened moderation' is sought to be injected into Islamic society at the behest of 'foreign masters'.

Posters and handbills, announcing the campaign have been brought out in Lahore by Islami Jamaiti Talaba (IJT), the youth wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), and the Muttahida Talaba Mahaz (MTM), the Islamists alliance, of which the JEI is the largest party.

The Urdu handbill says: 'Pakistan was achieved in the name of Islam after thousands of sacrifices to make a society living according to Islam. Educational institutions are the base of that ideology and their youth is a guarantee for practising those Islamic ideological teachings. But the current authorities have reversed this objective and are focussing on the so-called enlightened moderation. They are misleading youth.'

The student bodies have said that they will organise a referendum on campuses across the country, the Daily Times newspaper reported.

The handbill asks: 'Is Islam not the ideology of this state? Can music defend the ideological boundaries of Pakistan? Is stage drama a guarantee of the ideology of Pakistan? Which secular objectives are being achieved with such policies?'

It goes on to say that the 'so-called enlightened moderation' is making society rudderless and personal motives are being gained from educational institutions.'

The handbill adds that the PU students were determined to defend the ideological boundaries of the state at all costs and that they would oppose a secular agenda and 'obscenity' in the name of music and drama would be resisted.

Punjab province's Education Minister Mian Imran Masood, while defending the government's policy, said that music and drama should be taught as they form the 'essence of society'.

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