Alternative narratives: History rewritten to further political ends

 The view that Pakistan was conceived as soon as Muhammad bin Qasim set foot in Sindh amounts to rewriting of history, Historian Manan Ahmed said on Saturday.

He was speaking to an audience of academics, journalists and bloggers at the Nairang Art Gallery. Earlier, he had read excerpts from Kashful Mahjoob by Ali Hajveri and Chach Nama by Ali Kufki.

He said the role of Muhammad bin Qasim’s role in bringing Islam to the Indian sub-continent was glorified to support the Two Nation Theory. Ahmed said people in Sindh and Balochistan had continued naming their children after Jay Raja Dahir and Chach until 1960s.

He said bin Qasim was promoted as a prototype of a Pakistani for political reasons. Ahmed said most of the Yaum-i-Qasim events were introduced in by Jamaat-i-Islami and were never popular among the people.

Some journalists including Nasim Hijazi and Inayatullah also promoted such ideals through the Urdu press to brainwash the people, he added. He said some contemporary journalists had also urged the youth to follow in bin Qasim’s footsteps in raising voice for Dr Afia Siddiqui.

He mentioned Sadiq Hussain Siddiqui Urdu novel which had a seventeen-year-old military general as its protagonist. These narratives are extremely powerful and incite people to violence, he said. He said a thorough research of the country history was needed to offer alternative narratives to the future generations.

Journalist Raza Rumi said that the country history had been distorted to serve the ends of the ruling classes. He said that people entering civil services were required to cite 712 AD as the time when the idea of Pakistan was conceived.

Earlier, Ahmed said Chach Nama was an excellent work. He said the book was a must read. It was about a lowly man who ended up becoming a ruler.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2011.



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