Media: Int’l Media Conference: Indus Valley history need to be explored: Khursheed Shah Aitzaz and Dr Hamida Khuhro call for more extensive research

KARACHI: Opposition Leader in National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Monday underlined the need of more research on Indus Valley and transferring the knowledge to the people.

“There are several aspects of history of Indus Valley, which are yet to be explored,” he said adding that ambiguity still exists about Rani Kot located in Khirthar Mountain range as to who built it. Similarly history of Kotdiji too needs to be researched, he said in his presidential address at inaugural ceremony of Second International Conference on ‘Sindh through the Centuries’ organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University at a local hotel.

He also drew attention of historians to the distortion of Sindh history and cited example of birthplace of Father of Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was born at Jhirak town of Thatta district but the textbooks of present day contain lessons that he was born in Karachi. “We must get rid of complex and proudly tell the world real facts about it.”

He said Sindh is proud having given birth to great leaders of international repute like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto.

Shah said Sindh is land of Sufis and the people of this land embraced Islam only because of their influence and not through the sword. He however said the immigrants who used to come here in different periods of history prevailed over Sindhis.

Shah called for protecting the Sindhi language and added that he was addressing the seminar in Sindhi language as it was about history of Sindh. He lamented that 70 percent people of Sindh were still illiterate, as children use to study at such schools where the teachers remain absent.

Opposition leader proudly said Sindh was intact while Kashmir is divided in Pakistan and India, Gilgit-Baltistan is part of Pakistan, Iran and India. Similarly, he added, the Punjab is also divided into two parts, one in India and other in Pakistan while Balochistan is divided between Pakistan and Iran.

Leader of Opposition in Senate Senator Aitzaz Ahsan speaking as chief guest said Sindh of today is a society of migrants as most of the people from Syeds of Saudi Arabia to Urdu speaking from India came and settled here. It is the land of the Sindh that embraced everyone of them. “Sindh is distinct in its exclusiveness, as it embraced all the immigrants.”

Aitzaz told his frequent visits to Moen Jo Daro since early seventies and said he was impressed by the civic system of ancient city. “We can see the present cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and other cities which have turned into heaps of garbage.

Briefly tracing the history of kings and kingdoms, Aitzaz said according his findings there were no kings in that period of history and only the priests used to govern. “I wrote a chapter in my book titled as ‘Mullahs of Moenjo Daro but it was replaced as ‘Priests of Moenjo Dar’ after publishers showed hesitancy.” He called for more and more research on Indus Valley history.

In her keynote address renowned historian Dr. Hamida Khuhro also called for more research saying ‘we have not been able to identify many urban settlements and cities mentioned by historians and travellers. She gave example of Ibn Batuta who mentions the city of Janani which he describes as large fine city on the banks of Indus River with splendid markets.

“Also not much work has been done on the social and economic history of the entire period from pre-Muslim times to the colonial period and this is in an unlimited field for research. No serious student of Sindh and researcher will be short of subjects. This vast field of study also includes the much neglected subject of Sindh anthropology,” she said.

Dr. Hamida Khuhro said this region is home to a large number of marginalized communities that are very important to the economy of Sindh through the ages and performed skilled tasks. “For instance the Oads who expertise in mud construction that can well compete the cement and concrete. Mohanas or Mir Bahars who plied the Indus in boats are oldest of our communities but are referred as Punjabis in upper Sindh. May be some study can explain why or how?”

She said Sindh is suffering from downside of globalization-environmental degradation from pollution, destruction of local habitats, excessive flooding from global warming, salinity and degradation of fertile land and so on. She also referred to floods of 2010 and 2011 that hit the economy of Sindh due to destruction of crops, houses etc. She said ‘We need to have more research to show how to prevent environmental degradation.”

“Many inexpert attempts at preservation have had disastrous effects on the irreplaceable monuments and there is need not only of awareness but of expertise and dedication in the work of restoration”, she said.

For instance, she added, use of substandard materials for the new tile work that are being used to replace the old, are destroying the beauty and durability of the historic buildings as indeed is the use of concrete instead of age old mixtures of lime plasters the recipes for which can even now be found among the old practitioners of the art.

Earlier, Vice Chancellor SMI University, Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, welcomed the foreign delegates and participants. Shaikh informed the participants how he and Dr Hamida Khuhro worked on idea of organizing second international conference on history of Sindh after a gap of 39 years.

He said that first such conference was held in March 1975 under the patronage of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. According to him, it was first opportunity that a large number of scholars from different countries had come to talk on Sindh. The conference was held at auditorium of Habib Bank Plaza and continued for six days.

Talking about theme of the conference, he said that Sindh has been cradle of civilization from times immemorial. Its geography helped it develop a peculiar culture. Located between two great ancient civilizations, the South Asian and the Middle Eastern, Sindh enjoyed a degree of isolation throughout its history due to physical barriers on its three sides, a vast desert in the east, an ocean in the south and mountain in ranges in the west. Only in the north, it is connected with plains of the Punjab through a bottleneck of the Indus, he added.

He said that the Sindh has been destination of several migrations in the history of mankind, mainly due to upheavals taking place beyond its borders. All these factors have afforded Sindh to chart a peculiar course of history and to develop its distinct culture. This seminar focuses on history, culture, language, archaeology, anthropology, arts and crafts of the Sindh.

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