Historical Background of Pakistan and its People

Muslim world is a vast and immense mass of land sprawling from West Africa facing the Atlantic to southern Philippines far in the Pacific. Its northern limits touch the Volga in Russia while southern frontiers run up to Mozambique in South-East Africa on the Indian Ocean. In China, in addition to Sinkiang, Muslims are in substantial numbers in the provinces bordering Burma and in the districts around Peking. Total population of Muslims in the world is estimated at one billion.

In this book it is proposed to deal with only a small segment of this vast and varied world — with the land and people of the region called Pakistan. The purpose is not to discuss each and every aspect of their history nor to give a comprehensive account of their activities. It is intended to bring out only certain salient aspects which have either escaped the notice of historians or failed to receive sufficient emphasis from them. This book will substantiate the historical truth that the creation of an independent State of Pakistan in the sub-continent in the middle of the 20th century was not an oddity or a strange phenomena, nor have the people inhabiting this new political entity asserted their separate status from India for the first time.

Pakistan in different forms and in different backgrounds has appeared many a time in these very regions and endured longer than other independent states of this sub-continent, making enormous contribution to civilization. The history of its people is full of colour, thrill and excitement; of gallant deeds and sublime performance. It has, perhaps, witnessed more invasions than any other part of the world, absorbed more racial strains than any other region and more ideas have taken birth in the bosom of this land than elsewhere.

It was in these lands that the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the most brilliant in the annals of human history, flourished with its main centres at Moenjo Daro in Sind, Harappa in the Punjab, Kej in the Baluch territory and Judeiro Daro in the Pathan region. It was here that Buddhist culture blossomed and reached its zenith under the Kushans in the form of Gandhara civilization at the twin cities of Peshawar and Taxila. It was on this very soil that the Graeco-Bactrian civilization had its best flowering and left the indelible marks of finest Greek art in the potwar plateau around Rawalpindi. The entire Baluchistan is strewn with the remains of the earliest products of man’s activities. “Western Pakistan is a region which has been conspicuously important in the development of civilization.” (Pakistan and Western Asia, By Prof. Norman Brown. Pakistan Miscellany).

“In our present state of knowledge, we may regard the period of the Indus Valley culture as the first epoch in the history of civilization in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. The second epoch is again one in which the north-west figures basically. This is the period when the Aryan entered through the passes of the north-west at a time assumed to be about 1500- 1200 B.C. and possessed the culture of the Rig Veda, which is the first and most important book of the early Indo-Aryans and was probably compiled by 1000 B.C.” (Ibid)

“Of the two river systems that of the Indus, now mainly in Pakistan, had the earliest civilization and gave its name to India. The fertile plains of the Punjab watered by the five great tributaries of the Indus had a high culture over two thousand years before Christ, which spread down the lower course of the Indus as far as the sea.” (The Wonder that was India, By A.L. Bhasham.)

In valour and patriotism the people of these lands have been second to none. It was the people of the Indus Valley that held back the Aryans for decades; it was in the Punjab that the advance of ferocious Mongols was halted for more than a century. But for this defence the tender sapling of Muslim state planted at Delhi in the early 13th century A.D. would have been trampled upon and smothered out. Among more recent events the stiff resistance that Napier encountered from the Sindis and Baluchis is still fresh in our minds. The revolt of the ‘hurs’ of Sind against British rule in the 20th century is another glorious mark in this series. Pathans’ defiance of the British rule and their perpetual struggle in the cause of freedom is a story of only the other day. Kashmiris have suffered silently but never ceased their fight for freedom. The lands of Pakistan are indeed drenched with the blood of many a hero and saturated with the wisdom of many a sage. And what is more exhilarating, it was from these lands that Islam commenced its journey in the sub-continent.

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