Reviewing Pakistani History

History 101: Writing a new Pakistani history
By Aroosa Shaukat, Express Tribune,  May 17, 2012
LAHORE: Pakistanis must delve into their history with open minds, historian Dr Ayesha Jalal said during a talk on Wednesday.

Speaking to over 200 students at the Forman Christian College in a lecture titled Writing Pakistani History: Problems and Challenges, Dr Jalal said that open minds allow historians to hear and sift through contesting narratives on a subject in history.

‘Voice everyone’

“The task of a historian is to voice everyone,” she said.
A historian cannot be uncomfortable with change, she said.
“Pakistan presents a particularly complex subject matter,” she said.

“When we read historical narratives from outside Punjab, they criticise the Punjabi elements in the establishment and the military,” Dr Jalal said.

Baloch and Sindhis tell their own tale of how the Pakistani state has maltreated them, she said.
Traditional Pakistani history excludes the narrative of marginalised segments in our society, she said.
Historians must broaden the sources they use, Dr Jalal said.

Official archives must be complemented by unofficial records and oral histories, she said.
The tradition of oral history has always played an important part in the recording of history the subcontinent, she said.

“Historians are now using far more creative and imaginative sources than they were just a few years ago,” she said.

‘You can’t bypass history’

Answering a student who asked why people had not gone beyond debates on Pakistan’s history, Dr Jalal said, “You can’t bypass history. The only way to come to terms with one’s history is to understand it.”

For complete history, click here

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