Adnan Rehmat writes in The News
Taking a close look at a city is like reading the hopes, aspirations and pride of everyone who built it. Take a close look at Islamabad in all its pompous perplexity and clinical contradictions and not much popular ownership is apparent. Not that it prevents it from boasting a large number of peculiar characteristics even though these never show up in tourist brochures. It is, for instance, the ‘newest’ proper city in the country, the ‘newest’ city of Pakistan with a population of a million or more (the eighth in the country now) and even the ‘newest’ city in Asia that is also the capital of a country. Cynics could also emphasise Islamabad is the newest capital of Pakistan! (Karachi was the last, remember, anyone?) And, in this fact, emerges a side to the city that is debated little. Continue reading
by Salman Rashid
With the defeat of the Huns in 528, Taxila attempted to make a comeback. But forsaken by its upper classes, Taxila perhaps became home to rustics from surrounding settlements and began its final journey into the long night
Beginning with the annexation of Taxila to the kingdom of Alexander, there began a three hundred year-long period of Taxilan Hellenisation — save of course the century-long hiatus of the Mauryan period. The successors of Alexander’s general Seleucus Nikator annexed Afghanistan and Taxila together with most of modern Pakistan.
A hundred and fifty years later, they were overthrown by the pale-skinned Scythians (Saka to the Indians). These horse-riding warriors so overwhelmed our part of the world that Sindh became Saka Dvipa — Island of the Sakas for the people of India and Indo-Scythia for the distant Greeks.
Taxila was now ruled by the Scythian king Maues. Within a few years of his death in 53 BCE, the land was overtaken by yet another wave of equestrian warriors. The Parthians had much in common with their distant kinsmen, the Sakas; only they were a good deal culturally less refined than the people they replaced. They had, nevertheless, the desire to appear as Greek as possible and therefore emulated Greek fine arts, even if in a somewhat cruder form.
By the year 19 CE, Taxila was firmly in the able hands of the Parthian king Gondophares in whose reign the Greek philosopher Apollonious visited the city to tell us so much about it. When Gondophares died in 50 CE, so too did the great age of Hellenisation of Taxila come to an end. No long after this great king’s death, Taxila was visited by the plague which wiped out a major part of its population and left the city reeling.
In that enfeebled state about the year 65, it was run over by the Kushans — another Central Asiatic race. Unlike the nearly bloodless takeover by the Parthians only fifty years earlier, this change was bloody: as the Kushans tore across the Yusufzai plain leaving death and destruction in their wake, and even as they came over the fords of the Sindhu River, Taxila was seized by a frenzy of terror. Continue reading
Salman Rashid debunks a few myths here:
There is no historical evidence of Alexander or his men straying north of the ridges of the Hindu Kush Mountains into Kafiristan. But we know that the Greeks and the Kalasha themselves are today sold on this piece of charlatanry. The simple answer would thus be to turn to DNA testing
Every half-baked expert who writes on Chitral has to tell us of the Kalasha people of Kafiristan being the progeny of Alexander of Macedonia or at least of the many soldiers he ‘left behind’. So long has this fib been bandied about that even the poor Kalasha have established an amorphous and, at the same time, rigid belief in it.
The refrain is always been that the soldiers ‘left behind’ were responsible for starting the Kalasha line. This implies that Alexander reached Chitral and turning back left his soldiers there. Continue reading
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