14 January 2014

Murder of History

Courtesy: Laaltain Magazine

Khurshid Kamal Aziz, commonly known as K. K. Aziz, was a renowned Pakistani historian. During his illustrious career, he taught at many reputed universities home and abroad including University of Cambridge. He authored many books about history, the most famous of them being Murder of History. This book is primarily a critique of the school textbooks taught in Pakistan. Mr. Aziz has identified errors taught in history and tried to correct them. This is a must read book for every Pakistani, especially for those whose only source of history has been the school textbooks. Author has uncovered the major distortions of history in school textbooks and also provided a correct version of history.

K. K. Aziz carried out the painstaking work of thoroughly studying 66 textbooks. These books were on subjects of social studies, Pakistan studies and history from grade 1 to 14. After studying all these books in detail, the author has figured out some frequent errors and listed them in the first chapter of the book. This chapter, titled as Prescribed Myths, talks about the fables which are taught to the students as plain objective facts. After studying this chapter, one realizes the scale and magnitude of these errors because the most basic facts taught in school books are nothing but mere myths. It might be initially hard to confront such challenge to accepted ‘facts’ but after reading author’s account of the same events presented with evidence, one realizes the mammoth blunder that is being committed in the name of teaching history.

The list of myths pointed out by the author is too long; here I will mention a few chosen ones to indicate the scale of the problem. Debunking the 1857 War of Independence, K. K. Aziz elaborated that it was actually not a war of independence but a small scale mutiny only affecting Indian provinces of Delhi and U.P. When All India Muslim League was formed in Dhaka in 1906, one of its objectives was to generate among Muslims sentiments of loyalty towards the British. While stating reasons for the creation of Muslim League, this fact is conveniently overlooked in all official textbooks. It is also taught in textbooks that Allama Iqbal presented the idea of a separate homeland in his famous Allahabad address in 1930. Guess what, this is also untrue. He merely demanded the formation of autonomous units of Muslim provinces within the federation of India. In his letter to The Times, Allama Iqbal confirmed this assertion. However, the poor students in Pakistan are taught a different and incorrect history altogether.

Likewise, it is commonly believed that Pakistan Resolution was adopted on 23rd of March 1940 in which the idea of Pakistan was put forward. That’s also incorrect, the resolution was adopted on 24th march not on 23rd. Secondly, the word of Pakistan was not mentioned in the resolution and it was called Lahore Resolution. Thirdly, it demanded the formation of independent Muslim states (More than one) each having sovereign and autonomous constituent units. This is a huge distortion of history and not many people know the truth, thanks to the distorted school books. Contrary to popular belief, Pakistan was formed on 15th of August not on 14th. The Indian Independence Act 1947 of the British stated that both new countries will be independent at the midnight hour of 14th and 15th of August. So, Pakistan came into being on 15th August just like India. Moreover, the textbooks also state that Pakistan won all wars fought with India. That is wildly untrue and recently much light has been shed on this topic, and this book also indicates this distortion. Lastly, the textbooks also hold India responsible for the fall of Dhaka which is again not true according to the author. The fall of East Pakistan was due to the discriminatory policies of ruling elite of West Pakistan and India merely exacerbated the process of formation of Bangladesh.

After reading such remarkable facts one tends to explore the reasons behind such criminal distortion of history. Fortunately, K.K Aziz has also shed light on this topic in ample details. According to him, unlike in a civilized country, school books in Pakistan have been used as a tool for political indoctrination rather as a source of knowledge. The fairy tales taught as facts in textbooks defy common sense and therefore they also create among students an aversion towards the textbooks, according to the author. These books have indoctrinated more than one generation of people of Pakistan leading to a tunnel vision and a state of denial. No wonder why do people always blame foreigners for the wrongdoings whose causes are indigenous.

Murder of History is a treasure of information for the history lovers and for those who want to know the truth behind historical controversies. There are a lot of people who will out rightly deny all the aforementioned distortions in history and declare this book a foreign attempt to malign Pakistan. It is probably not the fault of these people who have grown up studying the distorted history and school books are their only source of historical information. They seem unable to accept anything which is against what they have been reading and believing for years. Anyhow, this book is a work of thorough research and author has quoted all the references of the original sources of history. After K.K Aziz many other authors have embarked on the path of correcting the errors in history and now there are plenty of books available on this subject. However, Murder of History was first of its kind and will always be remembered as pioneer in this subject.

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