ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Friday launched an animal rights curriculum for primary schools, an aide to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, in a bid to protect animal rights in the country and shape a more “tolerant and inclusive” society.
Pakistan's Minister for Education Rana Tanvir along with children from various schools launched the curriculum, which will be applicable to both public and private schools.
Salman Sufi, head of the prime minister's strategic reforms unit, took to Twitter and shared glimpses of the launch ceremony as well as one of the course books.
“Proud to announce the official launch of Pakistan’s 1st Animal Rights Curriculum on direction of PM @CMShehbaz,” Sufi tweeted.
“Our children will shape a more tolerant and inclusive Pakistan.”
Sufi said in September that the curriculum would initially be introduced in schools across the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), but the federal government had plans to work with provincial governments to add courses to their curriculum later.
He said PM Sharif had been pushing for animal welfare reforms through the unit and the move to introduce the course was a step in that direction.
“The main purpose is to make sure that children can learn what we were never taught,” Sufi told Arab News in September.
“That stray animals, pet animals, exotic animals, and any animal has rights, and we have to take care of them. And we have to take care of them in the right way, not just by words but through proper actions.”
The premier’s aide said he and Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman were also working on an animal welfare law that would soon be tabled in parliament.
In June, the Pakistani government also announced Rs15,000 ($73) fine and jail term for animal cruelty offenders as it prohibited testing and surgeries on live animals at veterinary schools and industrial complexes in the federal capital.
The decision came only a few weeks after people expressed their outrage after discovering that veterinary schools were using live animals, including dogs, cats and rabbits, to teach students how to perform incision and stitching.
Days later, Shalin Gala, vice-president of global animal rights advocacy group PETA, hailed the “landmark” reform to ban tests and surgeries on live animals, saying his organization would be working with Pakistani authorities on more critical reforms in training that would spare animal lives.