KARACHI: Of the 175 colleges in Karachi only three teach history as a subject, claimed Prof Dr Jaffar Ahmed, the director of the Pakistan Study Centre of the University of Karachi.
“The subject of history is history in Pakistan now,” said Dr Ahmed while speaking at a ceremony to commemorate the 33rd death anniversary of Pir Hisamuddin Rashdi, a historian, researcher and author, organised by the folk and heritage committee of Arts Council, Karachi, on Wednesday.
The lack of historians in Pakistan is very unfortunate, he said.
“There is a fashion of announcing research chairs in the names of personalities but there is no actual research conducted by these chairs,” Prof Ahmed added. The primary education across the country is not being given proper attention and “that’s the reason our universities don’t produce brilliant students,” he reasoned.
Contrary to Prof Ahmed’s views, Prof Aijaz Qureshi pointed out that separate research chairs should be established in different universities.
“An institution in Rashdi’s name should be built in Sindh,” he suggested. “We have forgotten this great person completely.”
He valued Rashdi’s contributions in establishing Sindh University, the Institute of Sindhology and Sindhi Adabi Board and his role at the University of Karachi.
Writer Dr Suleman Shaikh said that Rashdi wrote 41 books in Persian, Urdu and Sindhi. “He was a good historian,” he added. “But unfortunately there is no history in our text books and our exposure is limited to Pakistan studies. We are not even ready to think about history, far be it to learn from the incidents and issues of the past.”
History is continuous education and we should pass our history to the next generation as they could learn from what happened in the past, Shaikh added.
Khizar Noshai, another writer and researcher, claimed that Rashdi’s way of research should be adopted in universities. “He was one of the brilliant historians and researchers,” he said.
“Rashdi was the person on whose advice Zulfikar Ali Bhutto established cultural departments in the provinces,” claimed writer Madad Ali Sindhi. “He was the man behind the 1975 conference, Sindh Through Centuries, in Karachi.”
He pointed out that Bhutto arranged the 1973 conference on Moen Jo Daro on Rashdi’s advice.
Dr Ayoub Shaikh, Ahmed Shah and others also spoke on the occasion and highlighted the importance of Rashdi’s work. “Unfortunately, we have forgotten our heroes,” said Dr Ayoub. He added that such events are needed to reintroduce the work of writers, historians and other such personalities.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2015.