Book on history of Pakistan launched
KARACHI: History is being re-written on both sides of the border and there are fewer books to counter the narrative which is largely biased and communal in its references, said Shahid A. Amin, former ambassador of Pakistan, at the launch of his book A Concise History of Pakistan on Saturday.
The ambassador was speaking to a packed room filled with a number of dignitaries and diplomats at the Institute of Business Management (IoBM).
Huma Baqai, associate professor and head of the department of social sciences at IoBM, presented a critique of A Concise History of Pakistan. “This book incorporates enough material for a student as well as a history buff and keeps a balanced tone of narration throughout,” she said and added it is relevant to the times where issues such as identity, creation and future of Pakistan are being questioned.
She also pointed out that the book keeps a “diplomatic tone of writing throughout and as a reader I wished there was more on foreign policy as well especially during the trying times we faced as a country”.
Ms Baqai explained the book created a perspective on partition and goes on to discuss the Hindu-Muslim divide combining it with the Hindu fundamentalism, which she said “we are witnessing at present as well, to drive home the point about Pakistan’s creation”.
A professor at IBA, Talat Wizarat, while critiquing the book said Mr Amin held his post during the most trying times, such as the Moscow mission in the 1970s during the Soviet Union’s Cold War with the United States, and saw history in the making. With twenty-one chapters in the book, she explained, it is divided in four parts: the pre-Islamic history, the arrival of Islam, Pakistan movement and the developments after the emergence of Pakistan.
“We often see history from our own perspective in that we overplay less important facts and underplay the most important ones. Mr Shahid has succeeded in presenting a rich analysis of the events leading up to the creation of Pakistan. I suggest this book be included in the curriculum as well,” she added.
Speaking about his book, the former ambassador said Pakistan is a young state but an old country with roots in Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, among other religions. He added the myopic view of the country apart from the constant distortion of historical facts and requests from his students, forced him to pen down A Concise History of Pakistan. “I wanted to write something of a lasting value and in this way this book is a labour of love. It aims to accomplish a few goals. To write about the history by using specific references and historical facts rather than speculation, to counter half-baked assumptions about the identity, heritage and roots of Pakistan and to write an authentic reference guide for young Pakistanis living abroad.”
The chief guest at the book launch, Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, said: “I have the pleasure of knowing him for a long time. A diplomat’s life is fascinating and enriching — enriching not only for them but for their country.”
“Foreign office and diplomats, while working as functionaries of the state, are also an instrument in its hands. There’s self-assurance and confidence in representing a popular government. The most difficult time for a diplomat is to explain or own up to an illegitimate or military regime. It makes you question your decision to be a diplomat, every morning,” he added.
In his concluding remarks, he said the book needs to be made a part of the curriculum in schools so that “students know that Pakistan was not a gift from the British rather much more than that”.