Travesty of History
It's amazing how India and Pakistan are mirror image of each other in terms of falsifying history to suit the powers-that-be. I have hinted earlier in my blog how the historic accounts we read in books are misinterpretations at best, and fabrications and lies at worst. It was disappointing to read even Narayan Murthy uttering the clichéd lines of glorious first millennium in India while considering the second millennium as the dark age of "islamic invasions". The reality is anything but this black or white. However, the topic of history falsifications is a complex one and needs a book rather than a blogpost to elucidate. What prompted me to write this, is this news item.
"Kabul objects to Pakistani missile names
KABUL, Feb 22, 2006: Afghanistan formally complained to Pakistan for naming its ballistic missiles and other weapons after historic Afghan heroes, a minister said here on Wednesday. Afghan Information Minister Makhdom Raheen said that Kabul had recently sent a letter through its foreign ministry to Pakistan over the use of names of Afghan nation’s heroes, including Mohammed Ghauri, a 12th-century conqueror who ruled what is now Afghanistan and invaded areas in what is now India and Pakistan several times. A series of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles is named after Ghauri, including a 1,500-kilometre-range nuclear-capable weapon. “We asked them (Pakistan) not to use the names of great elders of Afghanistan on weapons of mass destruction or other war equipment,” Mr Raheen said. “These great elders played a major part in building national solidarity and in transferring science and knowledge from the homeland across southwest Asia.” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam refused to comment or say whether it had received such a letter. Afghanistan is also complaining about Pakistan’s use of the name of Ahmad Shah Abdali, an 18th century king who founded the powerful Durrani dynasty, on a weapon that Raheen did not identify. Abdali laid the foundations for the Pashtun tribal rule in Afghanistan. Mr Raheen said Pakistan was welcome to use the names but only for peaceful things like memorials, monuments, conference rooms and historical places. — AP"
The reason the generals in Pakistan chose these names? Of course, to intimidate the Indians and psychologically browbeat them! Indians of course have their own twisted version of history that conveniently forgets to mention that Ghazni fought other Turkic and Uzbek powers much more than he did Indians. He fought and killed Turks, Persians, Uzbeks (all muslims) much more than he did Indians. These accounts also avoid any mention of the hindu rajput kingdoms of what is Afghanistan today. It was this kingdom (Anandapal, Jayapal etc) that Ghazni fought in his later career, as he usurped them and established his empire there. The complex maze of rajput alliances and counter alliances made Ghazni friend of some and foe of others. Anyone wonders why he only attacked a few rajput kingdoms again and again but never molested others like the chandela kingdom? The chandela kings made the Khajuraho temples which were never touched by Ghazni. Why Somenath again and again when there were many rich temples to loot Kabul eastwords. Indian history is also silent about the rajput/hindu generals and soldiers that fought on the side of Ghazni. It’s sad to see the travesty of history in Indian historic accounts, which see this complex series of events as a one-dimensional “hindu vs. muslim” colour. A mistake whose repercussions we see all the time in the bitter fruit of communal riots in south asia.
Now, back to the news item on dawn. Sure enough, there was an innocuous little response from a Karachi resident.
THE Afghan government’s demand (Dawn, Feb 23) that Pakistan should stop naming its nuclear-capable missiles after their heroes should be taken seriously by the government.
After all, Mahmud Ghaznavi, who had invaded our soil in the 11th century, Mohammad Ghauri, who had established Afghan rule in northern India in the 12th century, and 18th-century Pakhtun king Ahmad Shah Abdali, who led several incursions into India, were Afghan citizens. They had earned a lot of glory for their country by conquering our territories. But more than that we must correct our history in which these invaders are seen as heroes and defenders of the faith. Pakistan’s nuclear hero Dr Qadeer Khan had spent millions of rupees (enough to construct several dozen schools) on repairing of Mohammed Ghauri’s grave in Pakistan. The Afghan government never thanked us for that act. The Afghan demand is enough to underscore our ruling elite’s predilection for Central Asian and Middle Eastern history and distaste of their own past. Their distaste for this soil’s past and thinking of decorating invaders is evident. It was this policy under which the rulers disassociated themselves from the rich past of the country which inherited the Indus Valley civilization. They started tracing their roots to the Middle East and Central Asia. It is time to re-write history and see what is the best in our own soil and people.
Indeed, reading the history as presented to Pakistanis makes me sit up in horror. Not just because of the blatant and unfair anti-india and anti-hindu overtones. But because here’s a sad case of people celebrating rapine of their own land and people. Mohammad-Bin-Qasim, Ghazni, Ghori and above all, Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked, looted, committed Qatl-e-Aams in Sind/Hind, as they did elsewhere, but the brunt of these attacks were borne by the very areas that constitute today’s Pakistan. Pakistani cities like Lahore, Peshawar, Multan took beatings all the time from central asian and Afghan invasions. Given that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are NOT progeny of Arabs/Persians/Turks, and are of south asian stock, Pakistani history reading is basically celebrating the rapine of their own ancestors. I don’t know of such a case anywhere else in the world.
Reading letters such as the one above from Manzoor, leaven my hopes of eventual rapprochement between the two south asian nations.