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History Taught In Pakistan
From: "Yvette C. Rosser" <y.r.rani@mail.utexas.edu>

Subject: Abuse of History in Pakistan: Bangladesh to Kargil

<fontfamily><param>Geneva</param>In mid-June I traveled from India to Pakistan during the height of the Kargil crisis. I made the trip on the Delhi-Lahore "diplomacy" bus. The rhetorical and ideological distance at the

Wagh boarder crossing between India and Pakistan was like traveling a million miles and one hundred and eighty degrees in less than fifty meters.

It was certainly an interesting time to be crossing that boarder. While in Pakistan, I felt as if I was experiencing history in the making, and the use of twisted history for nationalist justification.

I delivered a paper in Islamabad, in July arranged by the Islamabad Forum for Social Sciences. This paper discussed how Pakistani textbooks practice history by erasure and embellishment and how these distorted historical

"facts" are used to corroborate contemporary political perspectives and justify current military adventurism. I cited examples from <italic>Pakistani Studies</italic> textbooks and compared these to the headlines which

appeared in Pakistani newspapers during the Kargil crisis. My lecture was discussed in a newspaper article published in "The News," a daily in Islamabad, (quote): "Yvette drew examples from state-sponsored textbooks used in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to illustrate the appropriation of

history to reinforce national philosophy or ideology wherein historical interpretations are predetermined, unassailable, and concretized." History by erasure can have its long-term negative repercussions. In Pakistani

textbooks, which narrate the 65 War with India, Operation Gibraltar is never mentioned. Operation Gibraltar and the recent events in Kargil are products of the same processes. The mistakes made in Kargil are a legacy of the lack

of information that citizens have about the real history of their country.

During the "war-like-situation" in Kargil, a headline in a Pakistani newspaper read, "Kargil: Revenge for �71." This point of view can only be propagated by someone who is unaware of the real facts that led the Bengalis to secceed

from the western part of the country, by someone who blames the breakup of Pakistan on India Gandhi and "Hindu influences" in East Pakistan rather than on 24 years of Panjabi-perpetuated internal colonization.

While I wasout of the USA last year, I also spent six months in Bangladesh where I made several presentations. The first was in May 1999, entitled "Hegemony and Historiography: The Politics of Pedagogy." I also delivered a paper in Dhaka in late July when I returned to Bangladesh after a trip to Pakistan. That paper was called, "The Pakistani Historian and the Bangladesh War of Liberation." This talk received wide coverage in the Bangladesh

media. Here is a message sent from Dr. Ratan Lal Chakravorty, a history professor at Dhaka University. This message describes some of the news reports about that talk:

"1. The news coverage about you appears in a Daily Newspaper which is very much popular at the present moment. It�s name is the Janakanta (Voice of the People) which I am a life subscriber. On 8 August, your photographs

appeared with news in four columns of half a page. The paper appreciated you to such an extent that we had seldom received. The main topic covers your findings about the historiography and historical studies of Bangladesh

and it suggests to follow your methodology to understand the things going at present.

"2. The second also appeared in the Janakanta (Voice of the People) on 11 August, 1999, where an analytical and critical assessment of your work and objectives were done in a very sophisticated way using metaphor. The writer

appreciated you very much for speaking the truth and the reality."

Here are some observations about current events in Pakistan as they relate to the use of history in justifying current governmental and military actions and also about the psychological health of the nation:

Pakistani nationalism is characterized by ironies and contractions. Its ideology and national mythos have not been substantiated by its historical realities. In the last fifty-two years the vision or ideal of Pakistan, as a

secure homeland where the Muslims in the subcontinent could find justice and live in peace, has not been realized by the citizens. There is a shared experience of disappointment and dissatisfaction among the populace that

has not abated since the restoration of democracy in 1988, and in fact the feelings of betrayal and a collective mental depression have increased dramatically in the last decade. This intellectual fatalism and depression

about the state of affairs is not something new, as can be seen in an excerpt from the book,<italic> Breaking the Curfew, A Political Journey Through Pakistan</italic><underline>,</underline> published ten years ago by a British journalist, Emma Duncan, where she wrote, and I quote,"[. . . .] many Pakistanis I talked to seemed disappointed. It was not just the disappointment that they were not as rich as they should be or that their

children were finding it difficult to get jobs; it was a wider sense of betrayal, of having been cheated on a grant scale. The Army blamed the politicians, the politicians the Army; the businessmen blamed the civil servants, the civil

servants the politicians; everybody blamed the landlords and the foreigners, and the left and the religious fundamentalists blamed everybody except the masses.

"More than anywhere I have been - much more than India - its people worry about the state of their country. They wonder what went wrong; they fear for the future. They condemn it; they pray for it. They are involved in the

nation�s public life as passionately as in their small private dilemmas. . . "

(end quote).

In the ten years since this observation was written, the passion that the people in Pakistan have for their country has not abated, but the shared feelings of betrayal and disappointment have increased exponentially. A friend of mine who is a professor, the principal at a woman�s college in Lahore, confided that she and most of her colleagues felt not only disillusioned, but abjectly hopeless about the condition and future prospects of their beloved country. She said that she had lost all hope. She did not see that the nation could survive given the current situation and there was no alternative in sight. Here is a dynamic woman, a sincere practicing Muslim, a patriotic Pakistani whose father was an officer in the Education Core. She serves on the boards of directors of numerous institutions and works with the government to develop and implement various educational projects. She gives generously of her time and devotes herself professionally and personally to her students, her colleagues and the educational organizations of Pakistan. Yet, though she is totally committed to her country, and by nature a jolly and friendly person not prone to any type of self pity or

despondency, she is overwhelmed by feelings of loss, failure, and depression when she thinks of her beloved nation.

I was intrigued and disturbed by this expression of depression, which, regardless of Emma Duncan�s observations did not seem as profoundly obvious when I was in Pakistan two years ago. Since my dear sister working in Lahore informed me that many of her friends and colleagues also felt the same, I decided to ask the professors and scholars with whom I had scheduled interviews if they shared this feeling of depression and sorrow regarding their nation. I was astounded to find similar feeling of disempowerment coupled with a dissatisfaction which offered no solutions.

Many of the social activists and progressives with whom I spoke expressed this same helplessness while at the same time they counteract their feelings of loss by publishing journals, holding seminars and discussion groups�many

work with NGOs to develop educational opportunities for girls in rural areas or contribute their time to other altruistic and progressive endeavors. They remain active�their work belies the futility which they expressed to me.

They continue working, pouring their efforts and souls into positive activity aimed at improving the social and intellectual climate of their country, and they survive by <bold><italic>not</italic></bold> dwelling on the fact that

ultimately, they feel powerless to effect any positive change.

It distressed me that these very people who could help Pakistan the most and whose voices should be heard and heeded are the very same people who, because of their political perspectives and social critiques, are often

harassed by the authorities, denied jobs and otherwise discriminated against by the establishment. The current democratically elected government continues to make it difficult for intellectuals with alternative viewpoints to

do research and even to travel abroad, not to mention what has happened lately to prominent journalists. Several professors at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad informed me that a recent decree by the government mandated that professors must now obtain an NOC (No Objection Certificate) when planning to travel abroad even for a family vacation. One well known and respected Physics professor, Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy is a vocal critic about

Pakistani affairs and writes magazines articles and essays about issues such as corruption, the unequal availability of educational opportunities and lately about the folly and danger of the nuclear option. Recently, Dr. Hoodbhoy was

denied an NOC when he was invited to lecture in the Physics Department at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He was able to leave the country only through the intervention of the Vice-chancellor of his university,

Dr. Tariq Siddique, who also taught at the Civil Service Academy and served as the education minister under Zulfikar Bhutto. Dr. Tariq Siddique is well-known for supporting his staff and helping his former students.

However, his intervention on behalf of Dr. Hoodbhoy, I was informed, risked provoking official ire. However, this type of potential threat is not something new to Tariq Siddique, since he had been dismissed from Bhutto�s cabinet for

too zealously advocating teacher empowerment and merit-based promotion.

Many scholars at the university level expressed resentment that research was discouraged and intellectuals were often seen as a threat by the establishment. They complained that mediocrity was encouraged and original research impeded. Surrounded by a completely corrupt system, which they

felt powerless to change, yet endowed with self respect and moral conscientiousness, many of these caring and intellectually brilliant individuals lamented about their hopelessness and depression regarding the condition of their nation.

As I was disturbed by this shared expression of depression, I interviewed a psychiatrist and asked him his opinion about this phenomenon. He first pointed out that the depression was a tangible reality and could be quantified by the huge increase in the number of suicides in Pakistan in the last few years. He said that there are 20 to 30 suicides per day in Pakistan which occur primarily among the young between the ages of fifteen and thirty, mostly upper-class urbanized females and newly educated rural or

newly urbanized lower middle class males. Dr. Inayat Magsi, from the Civil Hospital in Karachi, explained that most of these suicides are the result of the loss of hope for the future. But he also pointed out that the dramatic rise in clinical depression which he has observed even among citizens with ample economic opportunities can be partly attributed to the fact that even though democracy has been practiced now for over ten years, there has been a decline in the development of civil society, a death of collective vision, of enthusiasm to change the system from within, a certain resignation.

During the time of Martial Law, the iron rule of General Zia-ul-Haq, the intellectuals and socially conscious scholars, along with large segments of the common people, had something to fight against, a mission and a purpose to rid their country of authoritarian rule. Dr. Inayat Magsi pointed out that this struggle against the military government and the hope for democracy united the people with a vision which kept them enthusiastic about the future potential of their country. Once democracy was restored, the level of corruption certainly did not decrease, the practice of fomenting regionalism which was practiced by General Zia increased, promises of a better future rapidly died as the political parties fought a propaganda war for

their ascendancy instead working for the good of the country. The often disenfranchised polity was once again dismayed and depressed by the inability of their officials to focus on the needs and priorities of Pakistan. Dr.

Inayat Magsi added that now that there is no military government to rebel against, they can only blame themselves for the lack of leadership and since they are powerless to create other alternatives, they are disheartened.depressed.

Pakistan is a land that is torn by ethnic differences and is seemingly unable to achieve unity within its diversity. It was founded on the principle that Islam, as the great leveler of class and caste, was a sufficient force to tie

the Sindhis, the Pathans, and the Balouchi tribes, and also the Bengalis together with the dominant Panjabis to form a cohesive and stable national identity which would supersede regional loyalties and ethnicities. Through the years, this mission to create a strong centrally controlled government has been pursued by various methods including realignment of political associations between its minority groups, usually based more on gains for provincial party bosses than nation cohesion, and by the use of military coercion, which as in the case of the Bengali majority, resulted in the split up of the original country.

Even today the central government operates under the assumption that Pakistan is a unitary entity, though the rhetorical idea of "One Unit" was only abandoned immediately before the Bangladesh war of liberation. The

Pakistani military and bureaucracy are still grappling with the problems that the contradictions inherent in the Ideology of Pakistan continue to create within the varied cultural landscape of the nation.

The powers at the center, usually more intent at retaining the profitable reins on the government, are inevitably unable to make equitable policies which can reverse the decentralized loyalties nor reconcile these tendencies with the imperatives of a highly centralized state apparatus. As Feroz Ahmed in his book <italic>Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan</italic>, published by Oxford University Press in 1999, wrote, "The state and its ideologues have steadfastly refused to recognize the fact that these regions are not merely chunks of territory with different names but areas which were historically inhabited by peoples who had different languages and cultures, and even states of their own. This official and intellectual denial has, no doubt, contributed to the progressive deterioration of inter-group relations, weakened societies cohesiveness, and undermined the state�s capacity to forge security and sustain development." (end quote)

Denial and erasure are the primary tools of historiography as it is officially practiced in Pakistan. There is no room in the official historical narrative for questions or alternative points of view which is Nazariya Pakistan, the

Ideology of Pakistan�devoted to a mono-perspectival religious orientation.

There is no other correct way to view the historical record. It is, after all, since the time of General Zia-ul Haq, a capital crime to talk against the "Ideology of Pakistan."

According to A.H. Nayyar from Quaid-e-Azam University, "What is important in the exercise is the faithful transmission, without any criticism or re-evaluation, of the particular view of the past which is implicit in the

coming to fruition of the �Pakistan Ideology.�" Rahat Saeed of the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences in Karachi explains that school level history teachers are often aware that what they are teaching in their Pakistani Studies classes is at best contradictory and often quite incorrect. They usually do not attempt to explain the "real" history regarding such events as the civil war in 1971, because to do so might jeopardize their jobs, and, as Rahat explains, the teachers are afraid "to corrupt their students with the truth."

In contemporary Pakistani textbooks the historical narrative is based on the Two Nation Theory. The story of the nation begins with the advent of Islam when Mohammed-bin-Qazm arrived in Sindh followed by Mahmud of Ghazni storming through the Khyber Pass, 16 times, bringing the Light of Islam to the infidels who converted en mass to escape the evil domination of the cruel Brahmins. Reviewing a selection of textbooks published since 1972 in Pakistan will verify the assumption that there is little or no discussion of the ancient cultures that have flowered in the land that is now Pakistan, such as Taxila and Mohenjo-Daro, though this lack seems to have been partly addressed in the very recent editions of several history textbooks published for Oxford-Cambridge elite schools. In most textbooks, any mention of Hinduism is inevitably accompanied by derogatory critiques, and none of the greatness of Indic civilization is considered�not even the success of Chandragupta Maurya, who defeated, or at least frightened the invading army of Alexander the Great at the banks of the Beas River where it flows through the land that is now called Pakistan. These events are deemed meaningless since they are not about Muslim heroes. There is an elision in time between the moment Islam first arrived in Sindh and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

This shortsighted approach to historiography was not always the case.

Up until 1972, the history textbooks included much more elaborate sections on the history of the subcontinent, while adopting the colonial frame of periodization�the books described the Hindu Period, The Muslim Period and

the British Period. History textbooks, such as <italic>Indo Pak History, Part 1</italic> published in 1951, included chapters with titles such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata Era, Aryans� Religion and Educational Literature, the Caste System, Jainism and Buddhism, Invasions of Iranians and Greeks, Chandra Gupta Maurya, Maharaja Ashok, Maharaja Kaniska, The Gupta Family, Maharaja Harish, New Era of Hinduism, The Era of Rajputs. This same basic table of contents, which also included the history of Islam, was prevalent in textbooks until post 1971. A textbook published in 1964, for use at a military academy in Abbottabad included similar chapters, and even had a chapter entitled, Mahatma Gandhi, Man of Peace. This same edition of this textbooks was republished without any changes until 1971. It can therefore be seen that Pakistani textbooks were not always estranged from their associations with South Asian history and culture. but beginning with the Bhutto years and accelerating under the Islamized tutelage of General Zia-ul

Haq, not only has the history of the subcontinent been discarded, but it has been vilified and mocked and transformed into the evil other, a measure of what Pakistan is not. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto�s influence on the textbooks was profound�he was furious at India, whom he blamed for the break-up of the country. Though ironically, his mother was a Hindu, a natch-girl (dancer) who had converted to Islam in order to marry his wealthy father, Bhutto vehemently launched an anti-Indian campaign with vituperative anti-Hindu rhetoric. This legacy of his orchestrated hatred is still the basis of Pakistani historical narratives where Gandhi is now usually referred to as a "conniving bania."

Much of the historical discourse and social analysis in Pakistan is based on negative methodologies which seek to justify Pakistan�s failures and shortcomings by pointing out similar problems that also exist in neighboring

India. Instead of focusing their academic lens on the Pakistani situation, and be the view positive or negative, analyzing what is seen <italic>within</italic> their nation, scholars repeatedly use the tact of dismissing problems in Pakistan by discussions of parallel problems in India.

Within this paradigm, Pakistani scholarship is defined by placing the country�s problems in a less negative light in comparison to India�s problems.

This could be called the theory of self justification, but more aptly results in self negation. A vivid example of this methodology can be found in the book by Akbar S. Ahmed, <italic>Jinnah, Pakistan and Islamic Identity: the Search for Saladin</italic>. It is one of a great number of books published in Pakistan during 1997. Many of these books published in honor of Pakistan�s fiftieth anniversary, such as Feroz Ahmed�s <italic>Ethnicity and Politics in Pakistan, </italic>and others such as the work by the linguist, Dr. Tariq Rehman, represent an effort to look objectively at topics such as Pakistani nation-building, society, cultural myths, domestic and foreign policy. Prior to this golden jubilee moment of self analysis, most books that graced the OUP or Vanguard shelves were basically biased and very much situated in the straight jacket of the two nation theory. This is not to criticize their nationalist orientation, all nations write nationalist histories, but an observation that historical discourse in Pakistan is dominated by negative images of India and Hinduism. In general, the majority of books in the field

of the social sciences written in Pakistan have lacked theoretical basis and are short on angst and verve, though perhaps books by ex-pats, such as Mustfa Pasha are usually more circumspect. As Dr. Rahat in Karachi joked, "In Pakistan, social scientists are more social than cientific!" However, since 1997, there have been several books written about the Bangladesh experience, such as the recent book by Ahmad Saleem, <italic>Blood Beaten Track</italic>, which does not lay the blame squarely in Indira Gandhi�s lap, for conspiring to "Sink the Two Nation theory in the Bay of Bengal".

In Akbar S. Ahmed�s book, <italic>Search for Saladin,</italic> if judged by its cover, the fairly post modern title gives the impression that perhaps the book would be theoretically based and hopefully less biased than the standard fare offered up as state sponsored Pakistani scholarship. In this regard the book was a disappointment. Ahmed is a well know Pakistani scholar, and though a civil servant and therefore perhaps prone to rubbery research results stretching to accommodate the reigning regime, he is a fellow at Selwyn College, Cambridge and would probably get a wider reading audience in the West. Unfortunately, in this book he has fallen once again into the prevailing discourse of Pakistani historians who define their nation in the negative, in terms of what it is not. "We are not Hindus. We are not Indians. We will not be ruled by the Hindus. We do not practice the evil caste system. We do not mistreat our minorities. We do not attack our neighbors." Through the decades Pakistani writers have used this discourse of negation consistently describing their nation in contrast to Hindu India�s other. There have been far too few examples of reflexivity, inward looking analysis.

In this book by Ahmed, much of the discussion centers on communalism in India. He refers to books by Veena Das, Asghar Ali Engineer, Sarvepalli Gopal, Kumari Jayawardena, T.N. Madan, Ashish Nandy, Khushwant Singh, etc. He uses these Indian authors� work to prove his points about the sufferings of minorities in India, couched in the usual anti-Indian/Pakistani-centric rhetoric. He never pauses to question why there are so many open and frank books about the plight of minorities in India and there are very few such books about the problems faced by minorities in Pakistan. He doesn�t mention the bishop who blew his brains out on the city hall steps to protest continuing officially sanctioned harassment of the Christian community in Pakistan and the death sentence metted out to an adolescent from the Christian community for his alleged blasphemy. Akbar S. Ahmed fails to mention that Hindus and other minorities are delegated to second class citizens through their prejudicial voting system and blasphemy laws. Or that women are also second class citizens living under the burden of Hudood laws. He can not see the problems in his own nation, for he is too busy looking for problems in India. Once again, Pakistan is not looking at Pakistan for its own meaning, it is looking to India to justify its own failings.

Akbar dwells extensively on rape during the Bombay riots of 1993, citing the suffering in several pages, but he dismisses rape by Pakistani soldiers in Bangladesh with less than one sentence. These types of examples are to be

found throughout the book. It must be said that some of the most exciting and theoretically based and insightful scholarship in Pakistan is coming from the small group of feminist intellectuals associated with such centers as Simorgh, ASR, and Sahe in Lahore.

Discourses about Islam and its relationship to the Ideology of Pakistan make up the majority of <italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> textbooks, which dwell at length on how Islam will create a fair and just nation,"In the eyes of a Muslim all human beings are equal and there is no distinction based on race or colour. . . The rich or poor [are] all equal before law. A virtuous and pious man has precedence over others before Allah."

The Pakistan Studies textbook goes on to say, "Namaz prevents a Muslim from indulging in immoral and indecent acts." And regarding issues of justice, the 1999 edition of this <italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> textbook written

by Rabbani and Sayyid which is in wide usage in Pakistan writes,

"On official level (sic) all the officers and officials must perform their duties justly, i.e., they should be honest, impartial and devoted. They should keep in view betterment of common people and should not act in a manner which may infringe the rights of others or may cause inconvenience to others." How does this discourse tally with the tales that the students have heard about corruption and the hassles their parents have endured simply to pay a bill or collect a refund? How do they rectify their cognitive dissonance when they hear about elected officials and wealthy landholders and industrialists buying off a court case lodged against them, or simply not charged for known crimes, with statements from their textbooks such as, "Every one should be equal before law and the law should be applied without any distinction or discrimination. [. . . ] Islam does not approve that certain individuals may be considered above law. The textbook goes on to state that "The Holy Prophet (PBUH) says that a nation which deviates from justice <italic>invites its doom and destruction"</italic> (emphasis mine).

With such a huge disparity between the ideal and the real, no wonder there is a great deal of fatalism and depression among the educated citizens and the school going youths concerning the state of the nation in Pakistan.

Further compounding the students� distress and distancing them from either their religion or their nation-state, or both, are the contradictions found in this same <italic>Pakistani Studies</italic> book. On page 63 is the

statement that "the enforcement of Islamic principles . . . does not approve dictatorship or the rule of man over man." Compared with the reality unfolding a few paragraphs later when the student is told that, "General Muhammad Ayub Khan captured power and abrogated the constitution of 1956 [. . . .] dissolved the assemblies and ran the affairs of the country under Martial Law without any constitution.<smaller><smaller><smaller> "</smaller></smaller></smaller>Since nearly half of this textbook is dedicated to chapters with such titles as Islamization Under Zia, Hindrances to Islamization, and Complete Islamization is Our Goal, the other themes and events in the history and culture of Pakistan are judged vis-a-vis their relationship and support of complete Islamization. Within this rhetoric are found dire warnings that Islam should be applied severely so that it can guard against degenerate Western influences, yet a few pages later the text encourages the students to embrace Western technological innovations in order to modernize the country. One part of the book complains that Muslims in British India lost out on economic opportunities because conservative religious forces rejected western education yet a few pages later the authors are telling the students to use Islam to fend off Western influences and lauding the efforts of conservative clerics who are the last hope of protecting the country by the implementation of the Shari-a Law. This seems to be schizophrenic reasoning.

Non-Muslim cultural influences are often blamed for regional allegiances, such as in this discussion in Dr. Mohammed Sarwar�s <italic>Pakistani Studies</italic> book, which states that, "At present a particular segment, in

the guise of modernization and progressive activity, has taken the unholy task of damaging our cultural heritage. Certain elements aim at the promotion of cultures with the intention to enhance regionalism and provincialism and thereby damage national integration."

Once again progressive forces and regional cultural affinities are deemed anti-Pakistani and thereby inherently anti-Islam. This is the same stance that is used in describing the emergence of Bangladesh. This textbook goes

on to state that "It is in the interest of national solidarity that such aspects of culture should be promoted as reflect affinity among the people of the provinces." This type of discourse seems to deny the impetus and urges of the cultural expressions of the Sindhis, the Pathans and the Balouchis, instead of valuing them as part of the whole, these regional cultural tendencies are seen as a threat to the nation, and Islam is employed to ameliorate these dangerous cultural differences.

At the same time this textbook claims that Islam sees no differences and promotes unity while it also discriminates between Muslims and nonbelievers. For example, on page 120 the author states, "The Islamic state, of course, discriminates between Muslim citizens and religious minorities and preserves their separate entity. Islam does not conceal the realities in the guise of artificialities or hypocrisy. By recognizing their distinct entity, Islamic state affords better protection to its religious minorities. Despite the fact that the role of certain religious minorities, especially the Hindus in East Pakistan, had not been praiseworthy, Pakistan ensured full protection to their rights under the Constitution. Rather the Hindu Community enjoyed privileged position in East Pakistan by virtue of is effective control over the economy and the media. It is to be noted that the Hindu representatives in the 1st Constituent Assembly of Pakistan employed delaying tactics in Constitution-making."

That this claim is spurious as can be seen in the recent book by Allen McGrath, published by OUP, <italic>The Destruction of Democracy in Pakistan</italic>, in which the author, a lawyer, analyzes the efforts at constitution making in the first decade after independence before Iskandar Mizra dissolved the National Assembly. In the McGrath book the productive role D.N. Dutt played in constitution making is mentioned. Yet, in Pakistan Studies textbooks, the anti-Hindu point of view and the vilification of the Hindu community of East Pakistan are the standard orientation. In this particular version of Pakistani history, which is the official version, General Zia-ul-Haq is portrayed as someone who, "took concrete steps in the direction of Islamization." He is often seen as pious and perhaps stitching caps alongside Aurangzeb. Though Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is generally criticized in the textbooks, General Zia usually escapes most criticism though he was the most cruel and autocratic of the military rulers who usurped the political process in Pakistan. Each time that martial law was declared in Pakistan, and the constitution aborted, the textbook by Dr. Sarwar describes it as an inevitable action stimulated by the rise of unIslamic forces. For example,

"The political leadership did not come up to the expectations and lacked commitment to Islamic objectives. Moreover, the civil service had not undergone socialization process commensurate with Islamic teachings.

Bureaucratic elite had Western orientation with secular approach to all national issues. [. . . ] the result was political instability and chaos paving the way for the intervention of military and the imposition of Martial Law. "

In the next paragraph, however, Ayub Khan is accused of imposing unIslamic laws, especially family laws, and the author claims that it was Ayub�s secular outlook which ultimately brought about his decline.

General Zia, on the other hand, is described on page 138,

"During the period under Zia�s regime, social life developed a leaning towards simplicity. Due respect and reverence to religious people was accorded. The government patronized the religious institutions and liberally donated funds."

This textbook, and many like it, claim that there is a "network ofconspiracies and intrigues" which are threatening the "Muslim world in the guise of elimination of militancy and fundamentalism." In this treatment Pakistan takes credit for the fall of the Soviet Union and lays claim to have created a situation in the modern world where Islamic revolutions can flourish and the vacuum left by the fall of the USSR will "be filled by the world of Islam." This textbook continues by saying that "The Western world has full perception of this phenomena, [which] accounts for the development of reactionary trends in that civilization." Concluding this section under the title Global Changes, the author seems to be getting ready for Samuel Huntingtons Clash of Civilizations when he writes,

"The Muslim world has full capabilities to face the Western challenges provided Muslims are equipped with self-awareness and channelize their collective efforts for the well being of the Muslim Ummah. All evidences substantiate Muslim optimism indicating that the next century will glorify Islamic revolution with Pakistan performing a pivotal role." (page 146)

<italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> textbooks are full of inherent contradictions. One page the book brags about the modern banking system, and another page complains that interest is unIslamic. There is also a certain amount of self-loathing written into the <italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> textbooks, and the politicians are depicted as inept and corrupt and the industrialists are described as pursuing "personal benefit even at the cost of national interest." Bouncing between the poles of conspiracy theory and threat from within, the textbooks portray Pakistan as a victim of Western ideological hegemony, and threatened by the perpetual Machiavellian intentions of India�s military and espionage machine, together with the internal failure of its politicians to effectively govern the country coupled with the fact that the economy is in the hands of a totally corrupt class of elite business interests who have only enriched themselves at the cost of the development of the nation. All of these failures and conspiracies could, according to the rhetoric in the textbooks, be countered by the application of more strictly Islamic practices. In fact, while I was in Pakistan recently, I spoke to several well placed individuals who told me that they would welcome a Taliban type government in Pakistan so that the country could finally achieve its birth right as a truly Islamic nation. Though this is certainly not a majority opinion, there is a large segment of society who thinks along this line. Perhaps the choice of this alternative Taliban vision for Pakistan is also a result of those feelings of helplessness discussed previously, perhaps between the conspiracies and corruption, they see no alternative.

When the textbooks and the clerics cry conspiracy and the majority of the newspapers, particularly the Urdu press, misinform or disinform the people, the tendency for the Pakistanis to feel betrayed and persecuted is not surprising. During the 71 War, the newspapers in Pakistan told nothing of the violence of the military crack down nor did they keep the people informed of the deteriorating strategic situation. The role of the Mukti Bahini was practically unknown in Pakistan, and when defeat finally came, it came as a devastating and unexpected shock that could only be explained by Indira Gandhi�s lies and treachery. It is no wonder that during and in the aftermath of the Kargil crisis, newspapers often ran stories which called the occupation of the heights above Kargil as Pakistan�s revenge for 1971. There has historically been a lack of information available to the citizens of Pakistan both in the 65 War and during the Bangladesh War of Independence. Yet that split-up of the nation, and the creation of Bangladesh is a potent

symbol in Pakistan as evidenced by one headline that ran last summer in "The News", which said, "Nawaz Shariff�s Policies are Turning Sindh into Another Bangladesh."

During the recent war-like situation at the Line of Control in Kashmir, the government claimed again and again that the muhajideen were not physically supported by Pakistan, that they were indigenous Kashmiri freedom fighters. However, the presence of satellite television, the internet, and newspapers which are now more connected to international media sources, prevented the usual propaganda machine of the government from keeping all the facts from the people. Perhaps there is at least one positive outcome of the tragic Kargil crisis where hundreds of young men lost their lives, in the aftermath of the crisis there was a dramatic outpouring of newspaper and magazine articles which attempted to analyze the brinkmanship from various angles.

This new found critical reflexivity is a positive development and though some of the essays in Pakistani newspapers called for the military to take over the government in the wake of Nawaz Shariff�s sell out to the imperialist Clinton, most of the discussions were more circumspect and many authors looked at the Kargil debacle through a lens of history, trying to understand the cause of Pakistan�s repeated failures arising from military intervention. Many of the observations made during and after the Kargil situation, such as the complete inadequacy of Pakistani international diplomacy, are interestingly also cited in <italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> textbooks regarding Indias perceived manipulation of world opinion during the 71 war and Pakistans inability to counter it.

Pakistani textbooks are particularly prone to a historical narrative manipulated by omission. According to Avril Powell, professor of history at the University of London, "The �recasting� of Pakistani history [has been] used to �endow the nation with a historic destiny.�"

Textbooks in Pakistan are the domain of distorted politics which have victimized the Social Studies curriculum. History by erasure can have its long-term negative repercussions. An example of this is the manner in which the Indo-Pak War of 1965 is discussed in Pakistani textbooks. In standard

narrations of the 65 War manufactured for students and the general public, there is no mention of Operation Gibraltar, even thirty years after the event.

In fact, many university level history professors whom I interviewed had never heard of Operation Gibraltar and the repercussions of that ill-planned military adventurism, which resulted in India�s attack on Lahore. In Pakistani textbooks the story is told that the Indian army, unprovoked and inexplicably attacked Lahore and that one Pakistani jawan equals ten Indian soldiers, who, upon seeing the fierce Pakistanis, drop their banduks and run away. Many people in Pakistan still think like this, and several mentioned this assumed cowardice of the Indian army in recent discussions regarding the war-like situation in Kargil. The nation is elated by the valiant victories on the battlefield, as reported in the newspapers, then shocked and dismayed when their country is humiliated at the negotiating table. Because they were not fully informed about the adventurism and brinkmanship of their military, they can only feel betrayed that somehow the Pakistani political leaders "grabbed defeat from the jaws of military victory."

It is interesting to note in this context an episode from the book by Akbar S. Ahmed in which he tells of a personal conversation with General Niazi, who according to Ahmed, claimed that he was planning to "cross into India and

march up the Ganges and capture Delhi and thus link up with Pakistan." Niazi told Ahmed that "This will be the corridor that will link East with West Pakistan. It was a corridor that the Quaid-e-Azam demanded and I will obtain it by force of arms." This absurd reasoning can still be seen among those who were battling the Indian army in Kargil. In a recent newspaper article published in The News, a commander of the Pakistani based muhajideen told the reporter that their plan was first to take "Kargil, then Srinagar, then march victorious into Delhi."

Operation Gibraltar, the recent debacle in Kargil, and especially the tragic lessons that could have been learned from the emergence of Bangladesh are products of the same myopic processes. As mentioned earlier, the mistakes made in Kargil are a legacy of the lack of information that citizens have about the real history of their country. How similar the public knowledge and their naive response, how similar the disinformation pumped out by the government, and how sad the loss of life, the continued hostilities, the inability or unwillingness to negotiate diplomatically. Hegel and Toynbee among others, have warned that nations do not learn from their history.

There is, however, significant merit to the argument that access to information about past mistakes and successes and their consequences can guide decision makers and citizens as they chart a course into the next millennium between diplomacy and disaster.

</fontfamily> If you like, I can send more messages about my adventures in South Asia. I was in Bangladesh supported by a fellowship from the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies and I was in Pakistan funded by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. I will be returning to Pakistan in November and December and plan to travel in interior Sindh to meet with scholar and intellectuals there, and interview them concerning their perspectives about the writing of history in Pakistan. Is anyone on this list can be of some assistance to me while I am there, I would be most grateful.

<fontfamily><param>Palatino</param> The recent series of translations submitted to this list-serve by Dr. Gul Agha concerning the history of the invasion of Sindh by the Arabs is in direct contrast to how these events are treated in the <italic>Pakistan Studies</italic> syllabus which devotes considerable space to Muhammad-bin-Qasim who is hailed for bringing Islam to the subcontinent. In <italic>Social Studies For Class VI</italic>, published by the Sindh Textbooks Board, Jamshoro, April 1997 the story of the Arabs arrival in Sindh is narrated as the first moment of Pakistan with the glorious ascendancy of Islam. This textbook tells the young sixth class school children of Sindh that, "The Muslims knew that the people of South

Asia were infidels and they kept thousands of idols in their temples." The Sindhi king, Raja Dahir, is described as cruel and despotic. "The non-Brahmans who were tired of the cruelties of Raja Dahir, joined hands with Muhammad-bin-Qasim because of his good treatment." According to this historical orientation, The conquest of Sindh opened a new chapter in the history of South Asia. "Muslims had ever lasting effects on their existence in the region. . .

For the first time the people of Sindh were introduced to Islam, its political system and way of the government. The people here had seenonly the atrocities of the Hindus. . . . The people of Sindh were so much impressed by the benevolence of Muslims that they regarded Muhammad-bin-Qasim as their savior. . . . Muhammad-bin-Qasim stayed inSindh for over three years.

On his departure from Sindh, the local people were overwhelmed with grief.<smaller><smaller><smaller>"

</smaller></smaller></smaller>When I visited Hyderabad, Sindh in 1997, I discussed the contents of this textbook with local Sindhis, who assured me that they told their children an alternative version of this story. They informed me that any good Sindhi knows that "in several cities in ancient Sindh, Muhammad-bin-Qasim beheaded every male over the age of eighteen and that he sent tens of thousands of Sindhi women to the harems of the Abbassid Dynasty." They also explained that impact of these textbooks was minimal because, though the back of the book indicated that 20,000 copies were supposedly printed annually, that, because of corruption, "fewer than 10,000 were ever printed and distributed."

I apologize for the length of this message and hope it is of interest.

Thank you for your kind attention and for any suggestions you may offer.

All the best,


Yvette C. Rosser

Ph.D. Candidate Department of Curriculum and Instruction (ABD)

M.A. Department of Asian Studies

B.A. (with honors) Department of Oriental and African Languages and


The University of Texas at Austin

Messages In This Thread
History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 11-23-2005, 09:02 AM
History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 11-23-2005, 09:03 AM
History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 11-23-2005, 09:10 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 02-13-2006, 10:30 PM
History Taught In Pakistan - by Guest - 02-14-2006, 03:09 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 03-08-2006, 02:21 AM
History Taught In Pakistan - by Guest - 05-10-2006, 05:02 PM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 08-20-2006, 05:27 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 08-23-2006, 07:16 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by Husky - 12-14-2008, 05:35 PM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 09-26-2009, 03:54 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 11-13-2009, 10:38 AM
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History Taught In Pakistan - by acharya - 06-13-2010, 10:09 PM
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