These days Whitechapel Gallery in London is exhibiting photographs from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. As per Guardian newspaper The Ghost of Mohd Bin Qasim “part of India, Pak and Bangladesh photo exhibit” photographs are getting visitor’s attention.
When I heard the word Ghost, I got excited and read complete story. One may wonder what is the connection of Pakistan with Mohd Bin Qasim, well as per our history books he was the one who laid the foundation of Pakistan, later completed by Jinnah.
Well he was an Umayyad Dynasty’s general who conquered Sindh and Punjab region along the Indus River at the age of 17. Historians believe that “Umayyad interest in the region stemmed from their desire to control the trade route down the Indus River valley to seaport of Sindh, an important link in the ancient Silk Road”.
Apart from Mohd Bin Qasim, exhibition shows the most shameful period of Pakistani history “our history books are quiet” when we lost Eastern wing now known as Bangladesh. One of the famous Pakistani novelists, who visited the exhibition, described her feelings when she saw the atrocities of Pakistan Army, she writes” I turn to the Bangladeshi photographers in order to fix my gaze on that blood-soaked epoch. I don't even realise I'm doing this, at first. I think I'm looking at a man's head, cast in marble; the sculpture is cheek-down amid a cluster of stones, almost camouflaged by them. Then I read the caption: "Dismembered head of an intellectual killed 14 December 1971 by local collaborators of Pakistani army. Bangladesh." It is extraordinarily eerie, and sad”.
Guardian writes that “The Ghost of Mohammad Bin Qasim” shows the nation's attempt to create an official history, which focuses on Muslims in the subcontinent (rather than Pakistan's geographical boundaries), the Arab general Bin Qasim (712 AD) was lauded for being the first Muslim to successfully lead a military campaign in India – even though he did little to consolidate his position. In Abidi's photographs, a man in Arab dress is shot at different locations in Karachi, including the mausoleum of the nation's secular founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The man is clearly Photoshopped in, deliberately so: he represents the attempt to graft a false history on to Pakistan, linking it to the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia.
It is ironic; nations fail when they try to manufacture a country’s foundation on the basis of false history.
As Baloch and Pakistani, I lament to mention that as kid I never came across my Baloch childhood heroes ‘my elders used to share the stories about’ such as Balach and Chakar . But we were forced to read about Muslim invaders from desert land of Arabia and Afghanistan.
When I was in US, came across various books on history, I realized that anyone who defends the motherland is a Hero. For a while I went back to my childhood and started questioning myself about Mohd Bind Qasim, Mehmood Gaznavi and Ghauri. Also the stature of Raja Dahir and Bhagat Singh rose high in my mind
I also got my long awaited answer, now I know why Pakistani nation is confused!! I truly get to see Ghosts of Mohammad Bin Qasim, Tipu Sultan and Lord Mountbatten on the streets of Pakistan.