A Tragic Murder Of History Is Occurring In Both Pakistan And India


Distortion or falsification of history is a moral crime. This scribe as a history teacher is a witness to this crime committed again and again in our history books. This deliberate distortion of history regarding India-Pakistan relations and the birth of Bangladesh has denied the people of Pakistan their inherent right to know the facts and the truth about our own history. Fabricated historical facts may serve the purpose of the people in power or satisfy the needs of the religious lobby but they do immense harm to the impressionable minds of young students of history. Tampered or distorted history is a great enemy of its readers and unfortunately this is quite common in Pakistan. It has created a nation believing in fairy tales and in complete denial of the truth and historical facts.

Generations of Pakistanis have grown up on a steady diet of historical lies and distortions. Our students have been told, for instance, that Pakistan was formed when Mohammed Bin Qasim invaded Sindh in 710 AD, or that all the Mughal emperors were very devout and religious Muslims. The pluralistic policies of the Mughal rulers are never mentioned, or their multi-religious and multi-cultural policies are not praised. The history books are devoted to a limited and anti-Hindu narrative. In more recent history, our students are taught a very doctored and distorted version of history regarding the loss of East Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh.

We tell our students that all Bengali leaders of East Pakistan led by Sheikh Mujib Ur Rahman were somehow traitors and anti-Pakistan who had joined hands with the Indian government to destroy Pakistan. No mention is ever made of the injustice done to East Pakistan or the real reasons for the secession of the Eastern Wing. The 1965 war with India is supposed to have happened because the cowardly and wily Hindus stabbed us in the back in the dead of night. No mention is made of the Operation Gibraltar or Operation Grand Slam launched by Pakistan that triggered the 1965 war with India. Fairy tales proliferate in the public imagination – like green-clothed angels coming to the aid of Pakistan to fight the Hindu and our boys strapping bombs on their bodies and lying in front of the Indian tanks to save Pakistan. We fail to tell our students that the real angels were those brave Pakistani boys who died with a smile on their lips in defense of the homeland and no angels were sent by God to fight on our side.

The pages of our history books are strewn with dangerous land mines, distortions and false glorifications: it is always the good Muslim versus the evil Kafir. Laws like the blasphemy laws are glorified, Muslim raiders and looters are projected as great heroes of Islam. No mention is ever made of the evils of brutality, alcohol addiction, religious intolerance or the slaughter and victimisation of the non-Muslim minorities. Brutal military dictators are painted as progressive and benign rulers. Ayub Khan is seen as a progressive ruler and General Zia is supposed to be a great Muslim and hero of Islam. Recently, the former PTI regime led by Imran Khan has tried their best to present the Taliban and their terrorist organisation as great friends of Pakistan and as Muslim heroes who are fighting the great Satan America in Afghanistan. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Taliban have the blood of over 80,000 innocent Pakistanis on their hands.

Pakistan is not the only country guilty of historical distortions. On the other side of the border, the Indians are also trying to rewrite history. The BJP, led by Narendra Modi, is trying to convert India into a Hindu nation in total violation of the vision of the founding fathers, who believed in a secular society in India. While In Pakistan the Mughal dynasty is shown as devout Muslims, the BJP gives them the look of monsters, looters, exploiters, religious fanatics and arch enemies of Hinduism, the predominant religion of India.

Both countries are now engaged in the unholy act of rewriting history based on religious fanaticism and bigotry. In pursuit of their policy of “Hindutva,” many cities and towns with a Muslim name have been changed. The name of Allahbad is now Pryagraj, Aurangabad is now Chatrapati Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad is turned into Dharashiv. The brutal treatment of Dalits and the horrible cruelties of the caste system merit no mention in the Indian textbooks. The murderer Of Mahatma Gandhi, one Nathu Ram Godse, who was a member of the fanatical Hindu organisation RSS, is not condemned – but shown as a lone activist who did not have the backing of the RSS. The 2002 mass murder of Muslims in Gujarat on the watch of Modi does not deserve a single page in their textbooks.

Pakistani writers of history want to project themselves as great champions and defenders of Islam, and their Indian counterparts want the world to see India as a country of love and religious tolerance. Both countries are guilty of religious fanaticism and rewriting history based on their religious belief and ideologies. Both need to realise that the Indian Subcontinent has been a multi-religious and multi-cultural society for the last many centuries.

The founding fathers of both countries believed in a society based on secular values and parliamentary democracy. The idea of mixing religion in politics has been disastrous for Pakistan and today the country is on the verge of an implosion. India, too, cannot survive without a strong secular approach in politics. It is time for both countries to rethink their present policies and change direction before it is too late to avoid a catastrophic end.__The Friday Times