Afghan textbooks omit history

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- In a highly controversial move, Afghanistan's education ministry has dealt with the complexities of the last four decades of turmoil and war by simply omitting the entire period from the new history textbooks it is issuing to schools.

Officials argue that the decision to pass over contentious events of recent history is an attempt to heal rifts in Afghan society and avoid further strife. But critics accuse the ministry of distorting history and protecting individuals implicated in past bloodshed, some of who now hold senior government posts.

Children studying the books could be forgiven for thinking they were reading about another country.

Historians see the missing parts -- from the Soviet invasion to the emergence of Islamist militias and all-out civil war -- as the key to understanding modern Afghanistan....

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