By Farman Ali (DAWN)
ISLAMABAD, July 8: Eminent historian and thinker Dr Mubarak Ali says the history written in Pakistan had been “dictated” by the ruling Establishment and represents its wilful perversion of facts “to accord with a fabricated ideology”.
“No authentic history has yet been written about Pakistan and its independence. There is a lot of confusion among the so-called pro-Establishment historians and educationists. Whatever has been written so far is distortion of history and entirely unbalanced,” Dr Ali told Dawn in an interview.
Unless the distortions were removed and facts told as they existed, the nation could not hope to make any real progress, he said, adding: “This is the lesson history has taught us”.
Dr Ali, who was interviewed over the weekend after he gave a lecture on the subject at Safma Media Centre the other day, said writing history in an ideological state was a problem.
“We project the deeds of our leaders out of proportion and ignore their crimes and blunders. Our modern history is also in a quagmire of confusion as our historians do not know the direction their work should take. They were unmindful of society’s need for truth and confused whether Pakistan’s history begins from the Indus civilization, or from Mohammad bin Qasim’s attack on Sindh or from 1947 the year it was born.
“Historians like Dr Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, S.M. Ikram and Moinul Haq wrote history, as dictated by dictators like Gen Ayub Khan, on two premises: the two-nation theory and greater national unity. There writings are more anti-Hindu than about British colonialism.
“Some historians negated our ancient Indian and South Asian roots and tried to establish our links with Central Asia or with the Middle East which was historical and intellectual dishonesty,” said Dr Ali.
Fanciful novels written by Maulana Abdul Haleem Sharar, Naseem Hijazi and the likes were taken for history.
Gen Ayub in fact replaced the subject of history in school curriculum with social studies and the history departments of the universities in the country accordingly produced textbooks which contained articles by pro-Establishment writers who excluded the whole ancient South Asian history and blamed the downfall of the Muslim rule on Emperor Akbar, not Aurangzeb, he said.
Akbar and his courtiers never used the expression Deen-i-Ilahi but the textbooks projected this opinion as if he had invented a new religion, he added.
Asked how the history of Pakistan could be rewritten, Dr Ali said an independent institute should research the regional and small nationalities’ history and their role in the anti-colonial struggle “from the perspective of masses, not of rulers”.
“History is not just compiling and recording past events. Its real work lies in analysing the events,” he said, stressing that objective interpretation of past societies and civilisations was important to correct past mistakes and move forward in the right direction.
For that he called for grooming independent researchers outside the control of government institutions. Dictatorship was fatal for research and objective recording of facts and correct analysis, he observed.
History, like culture, is influenced by politics. Any system based on oppression, coercion and authoritarianism was the first problem in the way of writing history, he noted.
Dr Ali emphasised that no country could progress in any field unless it learned from its past and that would be possible only when independent historians record and analyse historical events in their true perspective.