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Abuse of History in Pakistan

Abuse of History in Pakistan

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Published by neoindus
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.
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.

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Published by: neoindus on Dec 28, 2009
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10/10/2010

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AAbbuusseeoo HHiissttoorryyiinn PPaakkiissttaann:: 
BBaannggllaaddeesshhttoo KKaarrggiill
 
By "
Yvette C. Rosse
r"Ph.D. Candidate Department of Curriculum and Instruction (ABD)M.A. Department of Asian StudiesB.A. (with honors) Department of Oriental and African Languages andLiteratureThe University of Texas at Austin<y.r.rani@mail.utexas.edu>In mid-June I traveled from India to Pakistan during the height of the Kargil crisis. Imade the trip on the Delhi-Lahore "diplomacy" bus.
The rhetorical and ideological distance at the Wagha boarder crossing between India and Pakistan was liketraveling 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 inPakistan, 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 forSocial Sciences. This paper discussed how Pakistani textbooks practice history byerasure and embellishment and how these distorted historical "facts" are used tocorroborate contemporary political perspectives and justify current militaryadventurism. I cited examples from
Pakistani Studies
textbooks and comparedthese to the headlines which appeared in Pakistani newspapers during the Kargilcrisis. My lecture was discussed in a newspaper article published in "The News," adaily in Islamabad, (quote): "Yvette drew examples from state-sponsored textbooksused in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to illustrate the appropriation of history toreinforce national philosophy or ideology wherein historical interpretations arepredetermined, unassailable, and concretized." History by erasure can have itslong-term negative repercussions. In Pakistani textbooks, which narrate the 65 Warwith India, Operation Gibraltar is never mentioned. Operation Gibraltar and therecent events in Kargil are products of the same processes. The mistakes made inKargil are a legacy of the lack of information that citizens have about
the realhistory of their country
.During the "war-like-situation" in Kargil, a headline in aPakistani 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 tosecede from the western part of the country, by someone who blames the breakupof Pakistan on Indra Gandhi and "Hindu influences" in East Pakistan rather than on24 years of Panjabi-perpetuated internal colonization. While I was out of the USA last year, I also spent six months in Bangladesh where Imade several presentations. The first was in May 1999, entitled "Hegemony andHistoriography: The Politics of Pedagogy." I also delivered a paper in Dhaka in lateJuly 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 receivedwide coverage in the Bangladesh media. Here is a message sent from Dr. Ratan LalChakravorty, a history professor at Dhaka University. This message describes someof 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 infour columns of half a page. The paper appreciated you to such an extent that wehad seldom received. The main topic covers your findings about the historiographyand historical studies of Bangladesh and it suggests to follow your methodology tounderstand 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 weredone in a very sophisticated way using metaphor. The writer appreciated you verymuch 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 aboutthe 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
. Inthe last fifty-two years the vision or ideal of Pakistan,as a secure homeland wherethe Muslims in the subcontinent could find justice and live in peace,has not beenrealized by the citizens. There is a shared experience of disappointment anddissatisfaction among the populacethat has not abated since the restoration of democracy in 1988, and in fact the feelings of betrayal and a collective mentaldepression have increased dramatically in the last decade. This intellectual fatalismand depression about the state of affairs is not something new, as can be seen inan excerpt from the book,
Breaking the Curfew 
,
 A Political Journey ThroughPakistan
published ten years ago by a British journalist, Emma Duncan, where shewrote, and I quote," many Pakistanis I talked to seemed disappointed. It was not justthe disappointmentthat they were not as rich as they should be or that theirchildren were finding it difficult to get jobs; itwas a wider sense of betrayal, of having been cheated on a grant scale.The Army blamed the politicians, thepoliticians the Army; the businessmen blamed the civil servants, the civil servantsthe politicians; everybody blamed the landlords and the foreigners, and the left andthe religious fundamentalists blamed everybody except the masses.More than anywhere I have been - much more than India - its people worry aboutthe 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. . . ".In the ten years since this observation was written, the passion that the people inPakistan have for their country has not abated, butthe shared feelings of betrayaland disappointment have increased exponentially.A friend of mine who isaprofessor
, the principal at a woman’s college in Lahore, confided that she
and mostof her colleagues felt not only disillusioned, but abjectly hopeless about thecondition and future prospects of their beloved country. She said that she had lostall hope. She did not see that the nation could survive given the current situationand there was no alternative in sight. Here is a dynamic woman, a sincerepracticing Muslim, a patriotic Pakistani whose father was an officer in the EducationCore. She serves on the boards of directors of numerous institutions and works withthe government to develop and implement various educational projects. She givesgenerously of her time and devotes herself professionally and personally to herstudents, her colleagues and the educational organizations of Pakistan. Yet, thoughshe is totally committed to her country, and by nature a jolly and friendly personnot prone to any type of self pity or despondency, she is overwhelmed by feelingsof 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 thatmany of her friends and colleagues also felt the same, I decided to ask the

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