But, as the following discussion will prove, during the Hindu period it was the people of the Indus Valley in the West and the Padma-Meghna Delta in the East that mostly emerged triumphant. Both the wings remained independent of Gangetic Valley and in fact Pakistan-based governments ruled over northern India more often and for much longer periods than India has ruled over Pakistan territories. What is more important, Pakistan as an independent country always looked westward and had more connections —— cultural, commercial as well as political —- with the Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Central Asian civilizations than with the Gangetic Valley. It was only from the Muslim period onward that these two wings became subservient to northern Indian governments. Even this period is not devoid of revolts and successful assertion of independence by the two wings. In the pre-Muslim period, India’s great expansion covering large portions of the sub-continent took place only during the reigns of the Mauryas (3rd century BC), the Guptas (4th century AD), Raja Harsha (7th century AD), the Gurjara empire of Raja Bhoj (8th century AD) and the Pratiharas (9th century AD). It is important to note that except for the Maurya period lasting barely a hundred years, under none of the other dynasties did the Hindu governments ever rule over Pakistan. They always remained east of river Sutlej. I shall quote a few passages from history to substantiate my statement.
“At the close of Samudragupta’s triumphal career (4th century AD) his empire — the greatest in India since the days of Asoka — extended on the north to the base of the mountains, but did not include Kashmir…. Samudragupta did not attempt to carry his arms across the Sutlej or to dispute the authority of the Kushan Kings who continued to rule in and beyond the Indus basin.” (Oxford History of India, By VA Smith).
“Harsha’s subjugation of upper India, excluding the punjab, but including Bihar and at least the greater part of Bengal, was completed in 612 AD.” (Ibid)
“The Gurjara empire of Bhoja may be defined as, on the north, the foot of the mountains; on the northwest, the Sutlej; on the west the Hakra or the ‘lost-river’ forming the boundary of Sind.” (Ibid).
“The rule of the Pratiharas had never extended across the Sutlej, and the history of the Punjab between the 7th and 10th centuries AD is extremely obscure. At some time, not recorded, a powerful kingdom had been formed, which extended from the mountains beyond the Indus, eastwards as far as the Hakra of lost-river, so that it comprised a large part of the Punjab, as well as probably northern Sind.” (Ibid)
“Politically during the time when Hellenism in the south Asian sub-continent was decaying and the centuries afterward, the north-west remained separate from northern and central India. The Gupta empire, which at its height in the middle of the 4th century AD, and the empire of Harsha in the middle of the 7th century AD barely reached into the Punjab and included none of Sind.” (Pakistan and Western Asia, by Norman Brown)
The above quotations amply prove that none of the periods of its greatest expansion did India succeed in occupying Pakistan. The only exception is the Maurya period in the 3rd century BC when Asoka’s empire is said to have extended up to the Hindu Kush, north of Kabul. Even in this isolated case of the Mauryas, historians are aware that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty who hailed from Pakistan (Punjab), did not get Pakistan by conquest but by diplomacy from the Greek rulers who had succeeded Alexander.
As pointed out by more than one writer, the five thousand year history of Pakistan reveals that its independence had been a rule while its subservience to or attachment with India an exception. “Throughout most of the recorded history the north-west (i.e. Pakistan) has normally been either independent or incorporated in an empire whose centre lay further in the west. The occasions when it has been governed from a centre further east (India) have been the exception rather than the rule; and the creation of Pakistan which has been described as a geographer’s nightmare is historically a reversion to normal as Pakistan is concerned.” (A Study of History, by AJ Toynbee)
During its five thousand-year known history, Pakistan has been subservient to Central Indian governments only during the Maurya, the Turko-Afghan and British periods who were Buddhist, Muslim and Christian respectively. While the Mauryan (300-200 BC) and British (1848-1947) periods lasted barely a hundred years each, the turko-Afghan period was the longest covering a span of 500 years.
Here we come across an important ideological point. All the three religions i.e. Buddhism, Islam and Christianity which succeeded in uniting the sub-continent under the Maurya, Turko-Afghan and British rulers stood for universal brotherhood and were spread all over the world. In the context of ideology, the implications are obvious i.e., only people believing in universal brotherhood could unite and hold this sub-continent together. Otherwise Pakistan’s independence could never be challenged nor its people subdued by India’s Hindu Governments.
It is of these celebrated lands and of their intrepid people that we shall narrate the story here. In this article we shall give a brief historical background and the contribution made by each of the groups that inhabit it: We shall begin with a general account of the entire country first and then take up the history of each group.
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