Karachi: The work and writings of the veteran historian Dr. Mubarak Ali were eulogized by eminent speakers at the appreciation ceremony of the book “Challenges of History Writing in South Asia: Special Volume in Honour of Dr. Mubarak Ali on the occasion of 6th International Urdu Conference organized by Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi on Sunday afternoon.
The ceremony, presided by Indian historian and former Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal University, New Delhi, Prof. Harbans Mukhiya was addressed by a panel of speakers including Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali; Chairman of Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi Dr. Jaffar Ahmed; Syed Buland Sohail; Tasneem Siddiqui and Dr. Riaz Shaikh of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology. The event was jointly organized by Pakistan Study Centre and Pakistan Labour Trust.
Prof. Harbans Mukhiya in his presidential address appreciated the writings of Dr. Mubarak Ali and said the latter has launched a movement against communalism in Pakistan. It is quite difficult to write history in India, but it is even more difficult in Pakistan, he added. Dr. Mubarak Ali is doing it with a dedication and brevity.
He pointed out that Indian history writers have changed the history writing patterns by making all types of history as Marxist history.
History writing is a reflection of the mentality of the people and now there are many forms of the history like history of emotions, history of love, history of time and space. In India as well it is not so easy to write against communalism.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Mubarak Ali expressed thanks to all the writers who have written articles in the book. He appreciated Dr. Harbans for writing an article for the book and now attending its launching ceremony.
Dr. Mubarak Ali said history is a two-side sword, which can increase hatred, but it can also spread love and harmony. “We have tried to provide an answer of the hatred in our writings, which has been created by the previous historians.”
Karamat Ali, Executive Director of PILER said that he has learned about history from the books written by Dr. Mubarak Ali, who has raised critical questions, which are actually made taboos in Pakistan.
He said in Pakistan the history is distorted or restricted not to be taught in the schools. There was a law in Pakistan that if Marxist literature was found from the possession of any citizen of Pakistan, he or she can be sent to the jail.
Karamat Ali said the history can be a tool to change our present life. “We need to speak the truth and see the past critically.”
Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui recalled his friendship with Dr. Mubarak Ali started from Hyderabad, when the latter was teaching history at University of Sindh, Jamshoro. He said the intellectual journey of Dr. Mubarak Ali started in 1972 when he rejoined Sindh University after doing PhD in Germany. He started his research about Sindh’s history and culture and about people’s lives and cultures, that is why his articles and books were being read in Sindh and Balochistan more than the books on other topics.
Dr. Mubarak Ali played a role as historian activist. He not only wrote on history and culture of Sindh but he wrote on how to write an alternative history.
For the first time it was accepted that history is not only a history of king’s court, but it is a description of people’s culture and a narrative of daily lives of common men.
Dr. Mubarak Ali has proved incorrect the notion that in Pakistan people don’t read books because many editions of his books have been published and people still read his books with the same interests. His name has become an institution. He started holding sittings with the students on regular basis in Hyderabad and when he moved to Lahore, he also continued the same practice.
Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Chairman, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi said the book contains writings of the historians of both India and Pakistan. Dr. Mubarak Ali has written on the lives of common people instead of writing about the courts of kings. It is the reason that his books are available everywhere. “I found a book of Dr. Mubarak Ali in a shelf of a grocery shop in Turbat, Balochistan.”
“We need multiple histories, written by different schools of thoughts. The students should not be forced to read or study only one school of thoughts history in the curriculum.” This all can happen only in the democratic system. Unfortunately, our society has not become a democratic and our governments were not democratic most of the times. History is not taught in many universities in Pakistan, despite the fact the number of universities have increased manifold.
Despite his health problems and old age, Dr. Mubarak is still writing on the history topics. He started writings in the form of booklets, which were written by himself because at that time he could not find even a calligrapher. Dr. Mubarak had initiated a journal on the history, which has published many special editions on history topics. Dr. Mubarak initiated holding history conferences in the universities. About 15 to 16 national and international conferences have been held in many universities across Pakistan with the efforts of Dr. Mubarak Ali.
Dr. Mubarak Ali has launched a movement. The so-called historians, who mostly focused on government’s version of the history have now started following Dr. Mubarak Ali.
He said the book contains a detailed review of the work of Dr. Mubarak Ali. Total eight articles from Pakistan and 6 from India on various topics of the history have been included in this book.
Dr. Buland Iqbal said Dr. Mubarak has transformed his writings into a movement. He was instrumental in the changing mindsets.