Since the two–nation theory is the basis of Pakistani separatism, there is a constant need to prove that Hindus and Muslims have remained separate from time immemorial’ — Dr. Mubarak Ali

Since Pakistan is an ideological state, history only serves the ideology of the state. This is not only in case of Pakistan but also in case of other ideological countries. It is a very horrifying experience to live in such a society where there is so much fanaticism. This is not only at the government level but has slowly and gradually also seeped into society. Society is also becoming Islamised, ideologised, fanatical, fundamentalist.

From the very beginning, the problem with Pakistan after partition was how to legitimise its creation. And that’s why it is still very difficult for Pakistani historians who want to honestly explore origins and identities because it’s very difficult to decide
where to start Pakistani history from.

Some people argue that because it’s a new country, 1947 should be the starting point. Some people say that not 1947, but the invasion of Muhammad bin Qasim, who invaded Sind in 1711, so the Muslim period begins from the Arab conquest. There are very few people who like to trace the history from the ancient period. Actually, we do not teach ancient history in Pakistan, neither at the University level, nor at school or college levels, except the Indus valley civilisation.

Interestingly, however, until the 1965 war with India, in which Pakistan faced humiliating defeat, the text-books and syllabi did include a study of ancient India. But after 1965, military heroes and the study of the army entered our text–books and the classroom and ancient history was thrown out.

We have not really developed history as a discipline. Now the attempt is being made to have a separate identity of Pakistan, to de–link Pakistani history from Indian history. We actually have some proposals from ‘eminent’ historians arguing that the history of Pakistan should only encompass what is now Pakistan, the present day geographical boundaries, and we should have nothing to do with India.

But, at the same time it is very difficult for complete exclusion from India because then we are left with the problem of the Sultans, the Mughals. Then of course we are going to lose the Taj Mahal and Red Fort and everything! Since the two–nation theory is the basis of Pakistani separatism, there is a constant need to prove that Hindus and Muslims have remained separate from time immemorial. So, there is a constantly constructed myth of Muslim separatism.

Now in Pakistan they are actually trying to construct the two–nation theory not from 1947, or from the period of the freedom struggle, but since the time of Akbar. Interestingly, on medieval history there is currently a debate within Pakistan on whether it was Akbar or Aurangzeb who was responsible for the Mughal downfall. And a prominent Pakistani historian, I.H. Qureishi, writes that as a matter of  fact, Akbar was responsible for the downfall of the Mughals, not Aurangzeb! But there is no Akbar in Pakistani text–books up to the matriculation level whereas Aurangzeb is very much present.  

So there is this is systematic construction of the two–nation theory and most of the students in schools are taught this version of history. It has become increasingly difficult to counter this version of history, because though in the beginning the ideology of Pakistan was very weak, the failure of democratic governments followed by a series of martial law governments has converted Pakistan ideology into the official jargon. Now, it is used by the ruling classes so justify the chaos.
In 1991, when Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the first time, he passed the Pakistan Ideology Act that renders any person who writes, speaks or acts against the two–nation theory punishable with ten years rigorous imprisonment! Another dangerous trend within Pakistan is that gradually religious parties are becoming very strong in Pakistan. At this moment we have nearly 22 armies of different religious parties, called lashkars.  They belong to different sects, Sunnis or Shias. The most frightening phenomenon is the emergence of a full–fledged army known as the Lashkar–e–Tayyeba. They also send their volunteers to Kashmir to fight over there; not only to Kashmir, but also to Afghanistan and other countries.

The result is that we don’t have a single creative religious scholar in Pakistan. Religious scholars are only political agitators, because they believe they must capture the state with the help of armed forces and then implement the shariah. The unfortunate outcome is that instead of having a progressive and enlightened version of Islam, the Taliban Islam has become a model for Pakistan. In a backward society, of course, the major victims are women, as in Afghanistan. A similar thing is going on in Pakistan against women as a result of religious fanaticism. And of course, we are also writing history on these patterns and we are also producing in our colleges and our universities fanatic people!    




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