Murder of History
Extracts from: The Murder of History by Professor K.K. Aziz, ISBN 969-402-126-X.
In Pakistan students are forced to buy textbooks to carry it to the classroom everyday. He has to open it before him when the teacher is teaching, he is asked to learn portions of it by note, and he is graded by the quantity of its contents that he can regurgitate.
In Pakistani schools and colleges what is being taught as History is really national mythology, and the subjects of Social Studies and Pakistan Studies are nothing but vehicles of political indoctrination. Our children don’t learn History. They are ordered to read a carefully selected collection of falsehoods, fairy tales and plain lies. Why and how has this come about ? Who is responsible for it ? In what ways is this destroying the country? Why doesn’t anyone protest against it?
Several professors of long teaching experience and high formal qualifications say that Pakistan is not only Islamic state but the ‘fortress of Islam’, and shut their eyes tight to where they live. Another professor tells the students that world languages like French and English are retreating before the popular appeal of Urdu, and feels proud of the sight. A professor with an M.A. degree from London and a doctorate from Indiana (not India) asserts that before 1947 India was a part of Pakistan, and his pleasure knows no bounds at this demolition of both history and geography in one magisterial sentence.
These are not distortions or slants or exaggerations, or other venial faults. They are untruths, invented deliberately to deceive, cheat and misguide the students who attend school to increase their knowledge and build their character. When they hear and memorise these lies, and later discover that they were lies, what do they feel? They react in the following manner:
They learn to tell lies themselves when they find that the habit of lying is a part of their education. Teaching from these textbooks is an excellent mode of producing little devils with twisted minds. By the times these children have grown up to be ‘responsible’ citizens they are well trained in the art. They begin to look at their teachers and the authors of the books as liars. They lose all trust in the textbook, and in later adult life are liable to suspect that every book is a collection of lies. Instead of creating in them a love of books we have ingrained in them a revulsion from them. As these lies are taught and explained and elaborated by the teachers, the students lose all respect for them. Instead of a guide, an oracle, a front of truth, the teacher becomes for them a purveyor of lies. But the school discipline and the necessity of passing the examination force them to hide their true opinion of the teacher. For the time being he must be obeyed out of fear. This experience makes them hypocrites. In adult life they continue to apply the lesson learnt at school: to bow before the boss or the party leader or the bureaucrat as an unavoidable formality, while sticking to the belief that he is a liar.
In 66 years the educational system has made every Pakistani a hypocrite and a liar. The habit of not telling the truth has entered the mind of the student, the psyche of the individual, and the character of the nation. The textbook has done its duty well. The education of the people is complete.
Why do the textbooks lie ? The answer to this takes us to a consideration of some permanent traits of Pakistani character and culture.
The common Pakistani is a creature of emotions, and lives by them. Sentiment and a compulsive
expression of it all times mark his private and public existence. Look at his daily life. He quarrels at home, he laughs uproariously and talks at the top of voice among friends, he is hilarious and
loud-mouthed at parties and pleasure gatherings, he bellows at his office colleagues, he mourns and wails with abandon at deaths and funerals, and so on. His political life is a mirror-reflection of his social life.
Look at the noisy processions, the shouts that rend the skies, the sloganeering, the street brawls, the political debate ending in fulmination and an exchange of hot words and scurrilous abuses, the fury of words cascading from the lips of the leader when he is addressing a meeting, the inter-party riots, sectarian killings, political terrorism, unseemly pandemonium in the assemblies, hurling of charges of treachery and treason and subversion and unpatriotism at the members and leaders of the other party.
Look at our religious life. The mullah in the mosque delivers his sermon as if he is roaring, though his words are being magnified by six loudspeakers fixed on the roof. The leader of the religious party addresses his gathering as if he were fighting the devil himself: the veins of his neck bulge out, the face reddens, the beard oscillates, the eyes sparkle, the mouth foams, the audience applauds, shares the blaze of the outburst, shouts slogans, goes wild. Look at the colleges and the universities. Teachers are self-opinionated and bad tempered, students are rude and carry guns, lectures are interrupted, seminars deteriorate into slanging matches, examination halls are centres of iniquity, barefaced cheating and open corruption backed with violence.
Look at our men of letters. They quarrel and use the language of the gutter, they write abusive literary criticism as if the author under review is a personal enemy, they issue learned journals to lambast those who don’t share their opinions, they split old and respectable literary associations (like Halqa-i-Arbab-i-Zauq) into factions to satisfy their overgrown egos. And thus life goes on at a fast space, volatile, unbalanced, unmoored, furious, ill tempered, capricious, unsafe.
Another national characteristic, which is relevant to this discussion, is self-praise. The ordinary Pakistani thinks a great deal of himself and takes too many airs. He holds himself in high esteem. But he does not extend the right of this indulgence to anyone else. He is a whole man; all others are incomplete, imperfect, tainted. I have never met a humble Pakistani. The natural result is intolerance. Views other than one’s own are unwelcome, unpalatable, not worth a consideration. Argument or logic plays no part in his life. Self-righteousness conquers all. Even when he is found cheating, there is no embarrassment. He has not learnt to blush. Insist that you are right and go on insisting, and all will be well.
This description is our way of life is not mere rhetoric. It establishes a direct connection between our daily existence and our textbooks. The circumstance works both ways, and ends in a vicious circle. The national characteristics portrayed above are a result of the textbooks on which people have been brought up. The textbooks are written by people who want them to suit the temper of the nation. One produces the other. The non-textbooks do not, cannot, show a different quality or standard. The same attitude of mind determines the contents and style and thrust of the school books, college books, and all popular and scholarly historical works. As every educationalist knows, the school is the nursery of the nation.
Pakistani textbooks will produce Pakistanis, not Frenchmen. As ye sow so shall ye reap. The stories thou tellest to thine offspring shalt one day become thine history. To know the past is the first step towards understanding our present and planning our future. But Pakistanis seem to believe in covering their past with fumes of falsehood and make-believe which no wind of reality can blow away. Their view of history is made up of principled forgetfulness, willed oblivion and purposeful silence. When they choose to recall their past they write as they live: declaiming, emphasising, canvassing, affirming, trumpeting, preaching, haranguing…”