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Is Pakistan the real heir to Indian history?


By Sufian Qazi

There is a consensus in modern genetics that anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. The earliest vestiges of sedentary life dating from 7000 BCE, which involved the transition from foraging to agriculture and pastoralism, can be traced to the Mehrgarh civilization in Balochistan. By 4500 BCE, settled life had spread more widely and began to gradually evolve into the Indus Valley Civilization, which was contemporary with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. This civilization flourished between 2500 BCE and 1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan. It is well known for its sophisticated town planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage and water supply system.

Indian history begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and the arrival of the Aryans. These two phases are generally described as the pre-Vedic and Vedic age. The word “Hindu” comes from the Sanskrit word for river, Sindhu. The Indus River that flows through northwest India to Pakistan takes its name from the Sanskrit term Sindhu. The Persians referred to the land around the Indus River as Hindu, a mispronunciation of Sanskrit Sindhu. Then India saw an era of Vedic civilization flourish along the Saraswati River, named after the Vedas, which depict the early literature of the Hindus. The two greatest epics of this period were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, still held in great reverence by followers of Hinduism.

Gandhara, a historical region in what is now northwestern Pakistan, corresponding to Peshawar and Taxila and having extensions into the lower valleys of the Kabul and Swat rivers, became the center of Buddhist civilization. In 327 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Gandhara as well as the Indian satrapies of the Persian Empire. During military expeditions, his beloved horse, Bucephalus, died in present-day Punjab, Pakistan, after the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC. The horse is believed to have been buried in Jalalpur Sharif, a small town located a short distance southwest of Jhelum. After conquering Gandhara and solidifying his supply line to Bactria, Alexander combined forces with King Ambhi of Taxila and crossed the Indus in July 326 BCE to begin the Archosia (Punjab) campaign.

After a battle with Seleucus Nicator (Alexander’s successor in Asia) in 305 BCE, the Mauryan Emperor extended his domain to present-day northwest Pakistan. With the completion of the Empire’s Grand Trunk Road, the area flourished as a commercial center. Gandhara remained part of the Maurya Empire for about a century and a half. Emperor Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta, then unified India in the 5th century and later converted to Buddhism, and it was under his reign that Buddhism spread to many parts of India. Asia. Gandhara was then successively ruled by the Indo-Greeks, Shakas, Parthians and Kushans.

In 712, Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf of the Umayyad Caliphate, sent 6,000 selected Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, a corps of camels of equal strength and a baggage train of 3,000 camels to Sind under the command of his nephew and son-in-law, Imad-ud -din Muhammad bin Qasim, a boy of only seventeen. Muhammad bin Qasim captured Daibul for the first time. He then turned to Nirun, near present-day Hyderabad, where he easily overwhelmed the inhabitants. Dahir decided to oppose the Arabs in Aror. After a fierce struggle, Dahir was overpowered and killed. Aror fell into the hands of the Muslims. The Arab forces then occupied Aror and moved towards Multan. Along the way, the Sikka (Uch) fortress, located on the bank of the Ravi, was also occupied. The Hindu ruler of Multan offered resistance for two months after which the Hindus were subdued and defeated. The Muslim conquest of Sind forever changed the course of the history of the Indian subcontinent.

After the conquest of the Gandhara region by Maḥmūd of Ghaznavi in ​​the 11th century AD, the region was held by various dynasties of Muslim slaves. Finally, in the 16th century, the Muslim Mughal Empire began to grow. One of India’s greatest empires, the Mughal Empire was wealthy and glorious, with all of India united and ruled by a single monarch. Islam became a dominant political force ruling the subcontinent for almost a millennium. With the rise of the East India Company in the 18th century and subsequent British rule in the subcontinent, separate Muslim identity led to the two-nation theory. India’s Muslims demanded a separate homeland, Pakistan. The dream was finally realized in 1947 through the tireless efforts of the All India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

When you look at the whole history of the Indian subcontinent, the region that is now Pakistan has remained central. From the Mehrgarh civilization to the Muslim rulers, this part of the land has unparalleled historical value. Therefore, it would not be wrong to qualify contemporary Pakistan as the true heir to Indian history. Pakistan is not an overnight project, but the history of Pakistan is the culmination of events dating back thousands of years. As Sir Winston Churchill rightly pointed out, a nation that forgets its past has no future; it is therefore imperative to teach the younger generations the glorious history of this region.

The author is an independent researcher based in Islamabad.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/opinion/commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Think Tank and Dispatch News Bureau (DND). Assumptions made in the analysis do not reflect the position of the DND Think Tank and the Dispatch News Desk.