Textbooks ‘help’ Punjabis forget their identity

Shafqat Tanvir Mirza

Out of 165 lessons included in the textbooks of Urdu and Pakistan study meant for 6th, 7th and 8th classes for students of Punjab there are only three lessons about the ancient history of Punjab, six about the urban life and seven about the rural life and only four using cultural shades of Punjab. These books have been authored by Punjabis and produced by Punjabis who have totally forgotten the identity of their province because they have not got knowledge through their mother tongue and are quite unaware of the great history of the area.

The above facts and figures have been quoted from a report tilted, “Hum apney bachon ko kia parrha rahey hein” written by Aamir Riaz, a known intellectual and analyst. It is about the books prepared and published by the Punjab Textbook Board for 6th to 10th classes. These books include the subjects of English, Urdu, Islamiyat, Pakistan Study and Ethics. This report was presented and discussed at a meeting arranged by Actionaid on Thursday last. Here in the meetings the most well-represented and vocal groups was that of officials of the Punjab Textbook Board and they took more of the time meant for discussion. All they have to do was to defend their faux pas which were not committed by them but by the writers, authors or reviewers or policymakers sitting in Islamabad.

They could not justify wrong translations of Lahore Resolution and Allama Iqbal’s address of Allahabad of 1930. The compiler also asserted that Muhammad Ali Jinnah had given the status of lingua franca to Urdu in his Dhaka speech and instead of lingua franca the word national was inserted.

In the case of personalities from Punjab emerged during the British period who worked for the rights of Punjab none was given even the status of “also mentioned in dispatches” and they are Mian Muhammad Shafi, Sir Shahabuddin, Mian Fazale Husain, Sir Sikander Hayat, Nawab Mamdot, Mumtaz Daultana, Mian Iftikharuddin and many others. The Lucknow Pact has been mentioned but its rejection and condemnation by Mian Shafi and Allama Iqbal has been totally ignored. The most important point and turn in the struggle of the Muslim India for independence is the acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan by Jinnah and the Muslim League which envisaged a united India where all the rights of the Muslims were guaranteed.

This is historically the most important chapter of the Muslim League’s effort to extend political tolerance and acceptance of ground realities. This episode also shows the myopic approach of the Congress and its important leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Valabh Bhai Patel (who had spent a lot of money on Punjab and Sindh candidates opposing Muslim League candidates) … the trio which could not tolerate the assertion of rights for the Muslims.

With the missing of Cabinet Mission Plan from the textbooks, the young students are fed with the alleged narrow mindedness of Jinnah and his comrades. There is another aspect that many of the Indian writers belonging to different religious communities have justified the role of Jinnah and his Muslim League (not the Muslim Leagues of Raiwind, Gujrat, Deepalpur, Rawalpindi and London based).

Here another aspect must not be forgotten that Abul Kalam Azad, the great ally of Congress and Nehru, in his book India Wins Freedom criticizes Nehru for rejecting the Cabinet Mission Plan when he succeeded Abul Kalam Azad as the president of the Congress. The fact was that the Congress under the presidentship of Abul Kalam had almost accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan.

Another aspect of our political history is that the Muslim League of Punjab in 1945 gave a manifesto which was called a socialist manifesto even by the political rivals, in which radical agrarian reforms and nationalization of basic industry and transport was also promised.

Incidentally, the most important rather damaging the majority provinces like Punjab and Bengal was the Communal Award which made the two provinces minority Muslim provinces while their weightage was given to Muslim minority provinces like UP, Behar, Bombay, Madras etc. This award was criticized by Allama Iqbal and ultimately Chaudhry Khaliquzzama, the leader of UP Muslim League in his book “Pathway to Pakistan”, said had there been no Communal Award there would not have been the partition of Punjab and Bengal.

The fact is that some Urdu speaking chauvinists just forget to refer to the political sacrifice of Bengal and Punjab for minority provinces on their own hardcast and claim themselves as the exclusive champions of the Pakistan Movement and among them now the most important person and party are M. Altaf Husain and his Mohajir (Mutahidda) Qaumi Movement whose mindset is that it were they who should have been the permanent rulers of Pakistan because it is their and only their achievement.

Being Urdu-speaking they take themselves as superior to others and that also on a language basis because their mother tongue has been made the national language. That is why it was tried to be imposed in former East Pakistan with the help of bullets.

They also tried to browbeat Sindhi in Sindh while the Urdu had captured Punjab since the annexation of 1849. And that is the only reason that authors of textbooks and all those who are associated with the work are totally unaware of the history, language, literature, culture, economy, prosperity and the resistance of Punjab since Alexander’s period.

One is not sure whether the war of Punjabis against Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah Abdali and the remains of those wars have been mentioned in textbooks or not. But one thing is sure that poetic expression of Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Ali Haider, Nijabat and Khwaja Farid has not been conveyed to younger generations and that is tragedy inflicted by Punjabis themselves.

Curtsey:DAWN.COM: PUBLISHED SEP 12, 2011

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