Critique on “Rewriting The History of Pakistan”

Link To Original Article

‘Rewriting the History of Pakistan’ was published in 1985 in a book by Asghar Khan named ‘Islam, Politics and the State: The Pakistan Expreience’ published by Zed books in London. The book contains a series of essays discussing societal and policy change in modern Pakistan. The article is written by Prevez Amirali Hoodhboy and Abdul Hameed Nayyar. The medium of the article was print when it was published but now it can be easily accessed by the web also. The intended audiences of the article are literate Pakistani who like reading literary work of Prevaiz Hoodhboy, Abdul Hameed Nayyar and Asghar Ali and are interested to read and analyze history of Pakistan. Hoodbhoy and Nayyar both belong to the field of science; Prevaiz Hoodbhoy is Pakistani nuclear physicist and Abdul Hameed Nayyar is a Pakistani physicist and nuclear activist. Both Authors Hoodbhoy and Nayyar felt the need to educate the people about the reality and what is being taught in Pakistan studies books is wrong. The timing of the article was very apt since Zia ul Haq was ruling Pakistan, this was the time when books of Pakistani history started to change or what the authors emphasizes throughout their article that books started to “Islamize”. Addressing to this need Hoodbhoy and Nayyar wrote the article ‘Rewriting the History of Pakistan’. The article is well structured with appropriate use of diction, it has a serious and formal tone, rhetorical devices are effectively used and arguments mostly provided were logical, however, arguments addressing the role of religious parties and the gulf of silence are unjustifiable.

The article “Rewriting the History of Pakistan” discusses how the Pakistan Studies book being taught in 1980’s had been changed and amended in a way that promotes Islamisation and the idea that ideology of Pakistan is solely Islam however the reality was different.

The article is well structured and all the points are categorized into separate headings enabling the reader to stay on the main idea and do not get confused by series of different topics and arguments being made. Hoodbhoy and Nayyar give a proper introduction to the topic, defining the main purpose and telling reader what points they will be discussing in the rest of the article. In the body authors are discussing a number of different points though related to the same broad topic but different in nature, topics ranging from the addition of Ideology of Pakistan being Islam, religious parties had a role to play in the formation of Pakistan, issue of separation of Bangladesh being portrayed wrongly and Islamisation of textbooks. For that authors are using an effective way of categorizing all sub topics into different headings and each topic being discussed separately for example Ideology of Pakistan being Islam is discussed under different heading, agreements related to religious ideology and movement for Pakistan is discussed under separate heading and so on; this enables readers not to get confused and focus on the main topic. Authors quote texts from different books and papers as examples and refute them in the same way, giving reference of different papers. Authors stay on topic throughout the article and link everything with the main idea. And then they give a logical conclusion in the end, re-emphasizing on the central theme of the article and trying to convince the audience that how important this issue is. The structure of the article plays a vital role in effectively conveying the message and fulfilling the author’s purpose.

Hoodbhoy and Nayyar use a formal tone and appropriate diction to serve the purpose to convince the audience. The purpose of the article is mainly to educate the people about the misconceptions being taught, the topic being really serious in nature; it is effective to use a formal and serious tone. Throughout the article authors are didactic, providing references from books and papers, writing in a way that they are teaching the audience, giving explanations, for example, they give a detailed explanation of ideology of Pakistan and similarly are explaining each and every argument in detail. Challenging vocabulary is not used, since the use of simple words enables the audience to understand the article and purpose easily. In the introduction authors use Urdu and Arabic words like “chadar”, “zuhr”, “nazara” and “maktab”, this was to involve the audience and make them relate as these are the exact words used in Pakistan.

Rhetorical devices are effectively used and leaving an impact on readers and keeping the audience involved. Amongst the rhetorical devices used, anaphora is the most commonly used rhetorical device, authors repeatedly used the phrase “Ideology of Pakistan” starting right after the introduction till the end. This is to carry their point that the most basic thing that is written in the amended textbooks is that ideology behind Pakistan is Islam and this is not true. This is such a point that is relevant with all the subtopics and every time authors makes a point related to it, authors uses the exact phrase “Ideology of Pakistan” to make the reader link back to point established and this too supports the argument. This has a convincing impact on the audience. Second most repeatedly used rhetorical device is portmanteau, for example authors repeatedly uses the term “politico-religious”, combinations of politics and religion and meaning political religious parties. It is just a word play but attracted the reader and added to the element of interest. The authors also uses rhetorical questions, for example under the heading “Religious Ideology and the movement for Pakistan”, in the third paragraph authors ask “Prior to 1947, what was the new state envisaged to be? In what sense, and to what extent, was the demand for a theocratic Islamic state the driving force behind the movement for Pakistan?” and even one of the heading was a rhetorical question “Jinnah’s mind: Secular or Communal” (Hoodbhoy, and Abdul Nayyar 167-168). These question serves the purpose of involving the audience in the text, has a moving impact and emphasizing on the point being made. Overall authors used rhetorical devices effectively and fulfilling the purpose intended.

Arguments made by Hoodbhoy and Nayyar are logical and convincing. Authors generally use logos to support their arguments; there has been little use of pathos and no use of ethos. References, exact texts from books and examples are the tools employed by the authors to reinforce their arguments. Arguments are interpreted fairly and support the stances taken by the authors. The rest of the paragraph comments on the arguments made under the headings: Genesis of the ‘Ideology of Pakistan’, Religious ideology and the Movement for Pakistan and Jinnah’s mind: Secular or Communal? General argument being put forward by the Hoodbhoy and Nayyar is that modern textbooks have been amended and falsified that the Ideology of Pakistan was Islam and separation was sole because Muslims needed a separate state where they could live their life according to Shariah or the Islamic law. As pointed out by the authors themselves in Jinnah famous speech of 11 August 1947, Jinnah emphasized that “We are starting with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state […] You may belong to any religion or caste or creed-that has nothing to do with business if the State” (qtd Hoodbhoy, and Abdul Nayyar 169). Jinnah who has said to have played the most important and major role in the formation of Pakistan was secular and had a modernistic point of view. Speaking to the central legislative assembly on 7 February 1935, Jinnah declared: “Religion should not be allowed to come into Politics….Religion is merely a matter between man and God… when I speak of minorities, I speak of secular things” (qtd “Jinnah unequivocally wanted Pakistan…”). This argument confused the readers who had always read that Jinnah believed in Two Nation Theory, which states that Hindus and Muslims are religiously two different nations and they cannot live together so, therefore, a separate state should be formed for Muslims. For example difference of opinion between Raja of Mahmudabad and Jinnah.  Jinnah stopped Raja to propagate the idea of Pakistan as an Islamic State. Then Jinnah’s interview where he said “The new state would be a modern democratic state ….” (qtd Hoodbhoy, and Abdul Nayyar 168). These examples prove that Jinnah was secular and what the amended text books are portraying is incorrect. So, therefore, author’s stance is absolutely valid and authors have also provided sufficient evidence to convince the audience.

Hoodbhoy and Nayyar’s argument made under the heading “The role of religious parties” that religious parties opposed Jinnah and demand for Pakistan, however, this stance is not entirely correct. Authors are true that there were religious parties like Jammat-e-Islami Hind who were against Jinnah and his demand for a separate state but however it should not be generalized that all religious parties were against the demand. There were some religious parties who supported Jinnah too. Ulemas like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Allama Shafi, Maulaha Muhammad Ibrahim Sialkoti, Pir Ghulam Mujaddid Sirhindi, Amin-ul-Hasnant Pir Sahib of Manki Sharif, Pir Sahib Zakori Sharif, Pir Jamat Ali Shah, Maulana Sanaullah Amritsari and a lot of other not only supported the Pakistan movement but also played their part in getting their people a separate state. Mufti Muhammad Shafi, a member of Central Working Committee of Jamiatul-Ulama-i-Islam, rendered full support to the cause of Pakistan, wrote a number of pamphlets and made extensive tours of the subcontinent to motivate the Muslims in favor of Pakistan. His speeches and statements took Muslims by storm everywhere he went. His great efforts to counter-influence the Congress in the N.W.F.P. on the eve of the referendum of 1947 are unforgettable (Khan). Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, though he first opposed the idea of Pakistan but however he was later convinced by Jinnah’s stance and supported Pakistan movement and convinced other Muslim leaders and Muslim people to join and support Muslim League in their cause (Khan). Pir Jamm’at Ali Shah after Lahore Resolution gave all out support to the Jinnah and made tremendous efforts for the achievement of Pakistan. He also made extensive tours of the country to generate support for the Muslim League. He advised his followers to work for the League and declared that he would not lead the funeral prayers of any devotee if he had not participated in the Pakistan Movement in any capacity (Khan). These are just a few examples of the support to the Pakistan movement by the religious parties and leader. So, therefore, the argument made by the author is invalid and authors are just trying to generalize, it is unfair to not to acknowledge the religious scholars and parties who did support Jinnah by saying all parties were against the formation of Pakistan.

Hoodbhoy and Nayyar’s argument under the heading “1947-77: The Gulf of Silence” is also invalid, authors are establishing a stance that separation of East Pakistan strikes the very roots of Pan-Islamism, however, argument is unjustifiable. Separation of Pakistan had no link with Islam or Islamic unity or affected Islamic unity in any way, East Pakistan was separated due to political reasons which include economic backwardness of East Pakistan, geographical location as there was a 1000 miles distance between East and West Pakistan, cultural causes and delay in framing of constitution as the leaders of west Pakistan were afraid of dominance of East Pakistan as East Pakistan had a majority so they delayed framing of constitution. In 1971 East Pakistan’s Awami League won a huge majority in the general election but they were not handed over the government instead military operation was launched to suppress people of East Pakistan; this oppressive policy caused hatred for West Pakistan’s and led to the separation (“Separation of East Pakistan”). So the books are portraying the right image and author’s argument is invalid, separation of East Pakistan was solely due to political reasons and fight for ruling power.

In conclusion, the article is effective in terms of tone and structure and well supported. The article is organized in a way that eases the reader into the core of Nayyar’s and Hoodbhoy’s debate, accommodating its purpose and audience. Rhetorical devices have been effectively used keeping the reader involved in the text. Authors have successfully established their point and have provided logical and convincing arguments to support it. Though two of the arguments were invalid however overall positives of the article overshadow the negatives. On a whole, the article is intellectually enlightening and thought provoking.

Work Cited

Hoodbhoy, Pervez Amirali, and Abdul Hameed Nayyar. “Rewriting the History of Pakistan”. Islam, Politics and the State: The Pakistan Experience, Edited by Asghar Khan, Zed books, 1985, 164-177.

“Jinnah unequivocally wanted Pakistan to be a secular state”. Pakteahouse. August 13, 2013. Web. November 13, 2016.

Khan, A. Sattar. “The Role of Ulama and Mashaikh in the Pakistan Movement”. Nazariapak. Web. November 13, 2016

“Separation of East Pakistan”. Separation Of East Pakistan. Web. November 13,2016

Featured Image Credits: Stock Snap

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