And what is the matter with you that you struggle not in the cause of Allah and of the weak — men, women and children — who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this town, whose people are oppressors, and make for us some friend from Thyself, and make for us from Thyself some helper?’ (Al Quran 4:76)
By Nadeem F. Paracha
K.K. Aziz is a well-known name among academics and students of history in Pakistan. Many young people in this country are thankful to him for liberating them from the stranglehold of the myopic and slanted histories and ideological narratives that they were indoctrinated with at school and college.
In Pakistan, histories related to the ideological make-up of the country have been gradually mutated; a process in which, over the decades, every major political debacle has seen the insertion of a series of brand new half-truths in school textbooks. This has entailed the ‘extraction’ of those truths that might contradict the state’s rationale in explaining these debacles.
It’s an almost Orwellian process that (even till the late 1980s) was not fully studied or questioned, in spite of the fact that there was ample evidence available to challenge the spotty yarns and spins that had begun to enjoy a two-fold growth in the country’s textbooks (especially after the 1971 East Pakistan tragedy and then during the military dictatorship of Gen Zia in the 1980s).
However, ever since the mid-1990s, a vibrant wave of scholarship has slowly developed comprising historians and intellectuals deconstructing historical claims featured as facts in school textbooks.
The results have been startling, even intellectually liberating, for those wanting to study the history of the country in a more rational and detached manner. The leading architects of such studies include Ayesha Jalal, Dr Mubarak Ali, Dr Tariq Rahman, Rubina Saigol, Professor A.H. Nayyar and Dr Iftikhar Ahmed. More