Pakistan's political situation is an ever-changing landscape. Despite sharing
the same religion, the population is divided into many different ethnicities,
sects of Islam, and languages. Its long, complex history includes invasions since
5000 BC and a variety of governments in the 19th and 20th centuries. Students
have certainly heard of Pakistan, but perhaps know few details of its history
and culture. This lesson will be an opportunity to understand what stays constant
about Pakistan: its society and culture. Students will learn about the country
and its geography. The exercise in part 2 will encourage them to think about life
as a teenager in Pakistan and try to better understand daily living in a very
different part of the world.
Assess the students' knowledge of Pakistan.
Can they find it on a map? Do they know what countries it borders? What is the
dominant religion? Why is it in the news today? What are the different ethnic
groups? Does anyone know what Pakistan means? (Pak means pure and stan means country).
has been in the news a lot lately. In order to understand what is being said about
the government and politics there, we must understand the country and its culture.
The political relationship between the United States and Pakistan is important,
so we must educate ourselves about them in order to successfully work together.
discussing what the students know about Pakistan and locating it on a map, hand
out the Pakistan Fact Sheet. Have the students read the fact sheet for a few minutes.
When they are ready, discuss the information. What are the differences between
what we talked about and what you learned? Was any of the information surprising?
What does it mean to have a dominant religion but a great variety of ethnicities?
Do they know anything about the neighboring countries? What does their geography
say about their country?
Put the students into pairs. Tell students to imagine they
will have the opportunity to meet a fictitious Pakistani teenager.
What sorts of questions might they want to ask a Pakistani
teenager of a different religion or ethnicity? Be sure to
encourage them to ask big picture questions about society
and culture. Have them brainstorm questions in class. Questions
often do you go to the Mosque?
- Do boys and girls hang out socially?
many people live in your house?
- Do you go to parties?
- Do you
know anyone of a different religion?
- What does it mean to be Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, etc.?
are your relatives from?
- Do you hang out with people of other ethnicities?
- How many people live in your house?
- Do you have to marry someone
of your same ethnicity?
For homework, assign a characteristic
to the Pakistani teenagers that they will meet and tell the students to answer
their own questions. Give each student a religion or ethnicity from the lists
below to research and include in their answers. The students should also include
other characteristics and details for their imaginary Pakistani teenager. These
could be details about where and how they live, how many people in their families,
what they like to do with their free time, etc.
Muslim (Can assign to more than one group)
- Shi'a Muslim (Can assign to
more than one group)
- Punjabi (Can assign to more than one group)
Encourage them to use the Internet and library resources
to find details about the country and its customs.
As background, you could also have the students read through
the Online NewsHour's In-depth coverage: Politics in Pakistan and other listed
Tell the students that they will be presenting their information
to the class in the form of a 3-4 minute interview. Tell them to imagine they
are in an American pizza place. One student will play the American asking the
questions, the other will be the Pakistani teenager answering them.
Have the students present their "pizza place conversations"
with Pakistanis to the class. They shouldn't be reading their answers, but they
can use notes to help them. At the end of the interviews, discuss what they learned
about Pakistan, its culture, and its similarities and differences from America.
What surprised them about what they learned? What was most interesting?
1. Have the students answer their questions themselves, but this time about America,
their family, our society, and our culture. In order to understand another country,
we must understand our own.
2. Discuss the role of Pakistan in world politics
by having students find current newspaper and magazine articles on Pakistan. The
political landscape of Pakistan is changing all the time, so this could be an
ongoing project. How does what they have learned about the people and culture
of Pakistan impact their viewpoint on the most current political news from there?