By Jonaid Iqbal in The Dawn, Oct 22
ISLAMABAD, Oct 21: Faced with the political instability in the country, one speaker described Dr Mubarak Ali’s 60th new book Pakistan in Search of Identity as Pakistan in search of Pakistan.

The book was launched at the Safma media centre on Wednesday in the presence of a number of scholars who re-examined the question if the country had progressed to a point where some factors were preventing the formulation of national unification.

The publisher – Dr Jafar Ahmad, head of the Pakistan Study Centre at the University of Karachi – said Pakistan from its inception had faced a persistent crisis of identity because it had avoided a close look at the Quaid’s first address to the Constituent Assembly in which he had clearly prescribed the ingredients of national unity.

“Quaid-i-Azam’s creative skill in adopting the two nation theory was to settle communal problems in India and that is why he settled on the division of India because it would give autonomy to Muslim majority provinces.”

About Dr Mubarak Ali’s new book, Dr Jafar said the author had expanded the horizon of history and made it accessible to the common people. “The book is not establishment’s narrative but a history of the common people,” he said.

The tone of the book review was set up by Ashfaq Saleem Mirza who read quite a lengthy paper on the subject, saying facts of national identities were settled in the historical writings of other nation states.

But Dr Mubarak Ali is a secular person and always tries to build history on enlightened mode of thinking. He likes Akbar and promotes his broadmindedness,” said Ashfaq Mirza.

Social scientists Dr Nazir Mahmud suggested that the book should have been named as Muslims in search of identity in the subcontinent.

He listed three mainstreams of identities discussed in the book such as identity of Muslims as conquerors, as migrants who came from different countries and made India its home, as well as identity of converts.

He was not happy with the role of some of the conquerors which history book described, and Dr Mubarak had rightly deconstructed these heroes.

Literary critic Mushir Anwar referred to the chapter on ‘New religious trends after Independence (he used the word partition) and said “though they claim to derive their authority from the same source they accuse each other of deviating from the original teaching. Propounded by Indian Ulema this version believes in the separation of politics, secularism, democracy and tolerance which is the way to survive in a multi-religious society.

Ijaz Shahid also commended the author for advancing the discipline of history as well as for probing the confusion which arose because of lack of effort to make enquiries into the issue.

In the end, Dr Mubarak Ali thanked the audience, adding that the process of introspection helped nations to correct the mistake. Time has now come for Pakistan to make this correction. www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/dr-mubarak-ali-renews-debate-on-national-identity-209

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