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Poem with Bush's name to be deleted in Pakistani textbook

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Islamabad (dpa) - Pakistan's education ministry is to delete an English poem "The Leader" from grade-eleven course book as first letters of each verse form the name "President George W. Bush", a news report said Sunday.

"This controversial poem will not be in next edition," an unnamed ministry official told daily The News.

"It will be stretching the matter too far, to assert that the poem was inserted in the book deliberately to enumerate the qualities of the American president," he said.

Anti-U.S. sentiments generally exist in Moslem-dominated Pakistan, fuelled by President Bush's war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After toppling the radical Taliban regime in neighbouring Afghanistan in late 2001, the Bush administration initiated a 100-million-dollar education reform programme in Pakistan with emphasis on transformation of the Moslem country's educational curriculum into the U.S.-sponsored "enlightened" moderation.

The U.S. government has asked Pakistan to bring reforms in religious schools, which are thought to be "nursuries" of hardline Islamists and militants.

Religious groups, especially Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a main opposition alliance in Pakistani parliament, have been opposing U.S.-backed President Pervez Musharraf for such reforms.

The education ministry official described it a "glaring blunder", saying a probe had been ordered to find out how this "objectionable and unfit" material got into the course book.

"I wonder why just the writer was kept nameless and not the editors'," he said.

The official said the book was printed in last year for the first time after the government decided to deregulate publication of textbooks prescribed for grade eleven students this year.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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