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Last Updated: Monday, 5 December 2005, 19:15 GMT
Pakistan deletes 'pro-Bush' poem
US President George W. Bush (L) and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf
Mr Bush (left) is a key backer of President Musharraf
Pakistan's government is to remove a poem from a school textbook after it emerged the first letters of each line spelt out "President George W Bush".

The anonymous poem, called The Leader, appeared in a recent English-language course book for 16 year-olds.

Critics say it praises Mr Bush. Its rhyming couplets describe someone "solid as steel, strong in his faith".

Officials cannot explain how the poem entered the curriculum. Pupils are being told to ignore it.

The textbook is due to be reprinted next year.

Not deliberate'

The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says it is a bizarre episode which has left education officials short of explanations.

THE LEADER by anonymous
Patient and steady with all he must bear,
Ready to meet every challenge with care,
Easy in manner, yet solid as steel,
Strong in his faith, refreshingly real.
Isn't afraid to propose what is bold,
Doesn't conform to the usual mould,
Eyes that have foresight, for hindsight won't do,
Never backs down when he sees what is true,
Tells it all straight, and means it all too.
Going forward and knowing he's right,
Even when doubted for why he would fight,
Over and over he makes his case clear,
Reaching to touch the ones who won't hear.
Growing in strength he won't be unnerved,
Ever assuring he'll stand by his word.
Wanting the world to join his firm stand,
Bracing for war, but praying for peace,
Using his power so evil will cease,
So much a leader and worthy of trust,
Here stands a man who will do what he must.

At first they put the poem's appearance in the grade 11 textbook down to a coincidence.

Then on Monday they said it may have been downloaded from the internet by a textbook writer, and later approved for publication by the curriculum committee.

An education ministry spokesman argued that the poem was a good description of a true leader - which might explain how it got through the vetting process.

But the poem has prompted criticism in local media in Pakistan, where there is opposition to President Pervez Musharraf's support for the US-led "war on terror".

Some opposition members say the poem shows the government has gone over the top in its support for the US.

Pakistan's government has denied any deliberate attempt to promote the US president.

The education ministry said it would remove the poem from the textbook and discipline the person responsible for including it.

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