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Old Sunday, October 25, 2009
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Default Past present: Do we have a history?

Past present: Do we have a history?
By Mubarak Ali
Sunday, 25 Oct, 2009

Hegel somewhere wrote that nature has no history because its movement is regulated without any change. Everyday sun rises and sets, seasons come and go according to their schedule. So, there is nothing new or innovative in its movement which could be recorded. This principle can also be applied to those nations and countries whose movement is cyclic and produces no new ideas to enrich the history of humankind.

History tells us that there are two types of nations: those who contribute to world civilisation and those who just consume what is produced by others. The first category of nations create highly advanced civilisation while the later passively live on the knowledge developed by others in intellectual poverty and historical oblivion. Therefore, every nation is not capable of making history or changing the process of history by their acts.

Making history is a difficult task. It requires creativity, mature intellect, and capacity to respond to the political, social, and economic challenges. Not believing in any absolute truth but altering and amending views according to the need of time. Equipped with these qualities nations unfold the mysteries of nature, eliminate obsolete systems, and discover new schemes to shape and reshape the world from a fresh perspective. In a history making process, the wheel of change should always be moving — it is a source of energy and vitality.

Traditional historians put those nations in the category of ‘History makers’ who built empires by defeating other nations, occupying their countries and plundering their resources. Such nations could be called hooligans of mankind. The empires survived for a time and declined miserably, leaving these nations burdened with crimes against humanity. In fact, the empire builders were not history makers but those who destroyed history by enslaving weaker nations and curbing their potentiality to develop their societies.

To understand the process of history, we find that there is history of events and history of ideas. Social, political, and cultural events occur in every society routinely without creating any results. Some events cause a ripple in a society without bringing any radical change such as crimes and scandals which attract the attention of the people but are soon forgotten. On the contrary, history of ideas creates a new consciousness and causes a change in people’s minds which radically changes the society and its structure. Those events which take place under the influence of ideas have an impact on the society making it capable of responding to the ongoing challenges and reconstruct new basis.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, we can say that it has no history of ideas because its society has neither the capacity to face the challenge nor the creativity to invent anything in science and technology to improve its skill to compete with others nations. In art, literature, painting, and architecture, it has produced nothing original and substantial. It has neither original philosophers, scientists, poets, writers, artists, and historians nor politicians and statesmen who could lead the nation in the right direction. Pakistani society depends on the ideas, thoughts, and inventions of others. It is not creating any knowledge but just consuming it. Therefore, it is not contributing to the civilisation of the world. It is one of those nations which are not making history but passively watching those who are making it. That is why its social and cultural life is shallow and stagnant.

The country’s so called political history also contains nothing but intrigues and conspiracies. Nothing important happened since its inception in 1947. Its political history is movinglike pendulum between Democracy and Martial Law. When politicians create chaos, get involved in corruption, and abuse power for personal benefit, the army comes in in the name of law and order.

People, who are tired of politicians and their intrigues, welcome Martial law in the hope of peace and popery. Soon, they are disillusioned because the results are not what people hoped for and expected from army rule. The game of musical chair is going on without any change of script.

When Ayub Khan took over as Martial Law Administrator, he told the nation that political leaders ravaged the country and some of them did it as a matter of right. He accused them of sacrificing the country and promoting their self interest. The same text was repeated by every dictator after declaring Martial Law.

Another example is the text which was read out by Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the dismissal of Benazir’s first government; the same charge sheet was repeated against Nawaz Sharif and again against Benazir. This shows the stagnancy of political events in our country. So, when events repeat themselves routinely without any impact they cannot be a part of history. Thus, Pakistani history is moving in a cycle which has no opening to get rid of repetition. As long as it remains in cyclic movement, it cannot make history.
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