Friday, April 10, 2015

9 things that Pakistani social science textbooks will not teach you

By Omar R Quraishi

1. That Pakistan was once the home of people who used to follow Buddhism - check out the numerous ruins of stupas found all over the country especially in the north. A good example is the ruins of Taxila which at one time were home to a great Buddhist civilization over 2,000 years ago. 

2. That Pakistan was once home to a significant population which followed Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism -- proof of this can easily be found in the dozens of abandoned Jain temples in Sindh, especially Tharparkar District, in the prevalence of Hindu temples (many of them still in use) in Sindh and abandoned Sikh gurdwaras throughout Punjab.

3. That Pakisan in fact did not win a single war against India - not the one in 1948, or the one in 1965 -- which at best can be called a stalemate -- nor the one in 1971 or the Kargil War in 1999 where it had to withdraw after international pressure and gained nothing out of the adventures, except the dead bodies of its valiant soldiers.

4. That the secession of East Pakistan was in fact caused by our own follies, in particular by the refusal of West Pakistan's political leadership, especially Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who refused to recognize the victory of Sheikh Mujib's Awami League and did not let him form a government in Islamabad, which was his right given that his party won the most seats. The history books will also not mention a word about the alienation that many East Pakistanis felt, not least because of the language issue, and because most policies were West Pakistan-centric.

5. That Pakistan in fact came into being on Aug 14, 1947 and not any time before that. Many Pakistan Studies books teach students that Pakistan was in fact created when Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded Sindh in 712 AD and brought Islam to the subcontinent.

6. That much of north India -- UP in particular and Punjab as well as Rajasthan -- shares cultural, ethnic and language links with many Pakistanis.This is evident also in the fact that Bollywood films -- which draw heavily on this north Indian culture and ambience are immensely popular this side of the border. Of course, doing so would in fact undermine the Two Nation Theory, which textbooks say is what Pakistan was premised on. The textbooks are, as expected, also silent on the obvious extrapolation from the 1971 creation of Bangladesh, which is that it disproves the Two Nation theory.

7. That Pakistan's Hindus -- there are 2-3 million of them and concentrated mainly in Sindh -- are a productive and valuable segment of Pakistani society and contribute to the national economy. No wonder, that if a Hindu Pakistani goes outside his area of residence and meets another person the question that he is often asked is "Aap kya India say hain?". The textbooks also make no mention really of Pakistan's other minorities such as Parsis, Christians or Sikhs. This is because the emphasis is on Pakistan being a state for Muslims, and hence all non-Muslim groups are equated with the Other.

8. That Pakistan has had many men and women who were members of minority communities but who contributed in a major way towards their country and society. Examples are the late Justice A R Cornelius, the late Justice Dorab Patel, and Air Force and 1965 War hero Group Captain Cecil Chaudhry.

9. That there is a role for women in Pakistani society outside of the boundaries pre-determined for them by their patriarchs, i.e. fathers, brothers, husbands and so on. Of course, in reality the world is changing and so are these boundaries but most social studies textbooks for government schools will make their students think that we are still living in the middle of the 20th century.