TRA Meetup March 2015

March 22, 2015
Photo Courtesy: Munir Hyder Shah

Photo Courtesy: Munir Hyder Shah

The Readers' Avenue (TRA) met on 21st March 2015 at Karachi Youth Support Network (KYSN). It was first meetup at KYSN made possible by support from Sarah Ahmed. The book under discussion was Aitzaz Ahsan's The Indus Saga (Jamhoori Publications Edition). The meetup was attended members of KYSN as well who asked some pointed questions during and towards the end of the session.

N.B. Review of The Indus Saga will be available on Digital Saeen in next few days.

Starting around 5 pm, Munir introduced the book to audience that included reference to Aitzaz Ahsan's recent public talks during Sufi Festival and Karachi Literature Festival ... both times Aitzaz talked about the history of Indus and Indus person. Munir argued that, while the book gives a historical view of Indus that feels like a deliberate attempt at justifying Pakistan's creation by using historical and cultural distinctions, it is a very good book because it is far better than the distorted history taught in the name of Pakistan Studies. Some people would even agree with Aitzaz because his arguments make sense, largely because the official history teaches us nothing before 1947 and briefly mention Moenjo Daro and Harappa. Why areas constituting Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, NWFP and Bengal actually decided to breakaway and form Pakistan, no information is provided by official history.

Munir also lamented that local heroes, the likes of Bhagat Singh and Ranjeet Singh and Raja Dahir, are completely ignored simply because they are not Muslims and imported figures from Afghanistan are portrayed as Islamic heroes. The argument was carried forward by Jamal who gave some historical perspective of various influences on Indus that includes Greek, Turk and Persian to name a few, movement of great armies in the region starting from Alexander, the evolution of local languages and oldest learning centers of the world such as Harappa where world's first university was created while Europe still lived in stone age.

Photo Courtesy: Munir Hyder Shah

Photo Courtesy: Munir Hyder Shah

Wasio took everyone through the historical narrative of the book that started from innovations that initially defeated Indians i.e. Iron weaponry and Horses. From there the classification of world religions and discussion of details of the Eastern invaders, their loot and plunder in the region, various kings and their policies that caused stagnation, lack of innovation that left Indians stuck in time while Europeans not only caught up but surpassed and finally taking over India using modern firepower, compass, discipline, strategies and superior navy.

Members of KYSN, who were not aware of the book's contents before the session, asked questions for more details regarding Pakistan's justification from historical basis, the validity of Two Nation Theory, the case of Bangladesh and various other factors (including the heroes we celebrate and the heroes we ignore) that are part of our syllabus in schools, colleges and universities. The discussion included an intense debate on 'Culture vs Religion' and several points came up, from the book and otherwise, where coexistence between culture and religion was shown (such as greetings: Aadaab in North India and Bhali Karay Aya in Sindh).

The Readers' Avenue will be shortlisting titles for April's meetup and share on the group for members feedback.

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