Author: Aitzaz Ahsan
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174364218
The Indus region, comprising the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent (now Pakistan), has always had its distinct identity-racially, ethnically, linguistically and culturally. In the last five thousand years this region has been a part of India politically for only five hundred years.
Pakistan, then, is no artificial state conjured up by the disaffected Muslim elite of British India. Aitzaz Ahsan surveys the history of Indus-as he refers to this region-right from the time of the Harappan civilization to the era of the British Raj, concluding with Independence and the creation of Pakistan.
Ahsan’s message is aimed both at Indians still nostalgic about undivided India and at his Pakistani compatriots who narrowly tend to define their identity by their un-Indianness.
Two generations of Pakistanis have been told that their very identity was their un-Indianness: banish this thought from the mind and Pakistan will collapse. Moreover, the Pakistani is Muslim and the Indian is Hindu. Period. That alone was the rationale of the partition of the subcontinent. But even if valid, being un-Indian is a manifestly incomplete answer to any question about identity.
It only purports to state what the Pakistani is not. It does not address the issue as to what indeed he is, The Pakistani does not necessarily have to be an Indian, but he has to be somebody. Who is that somebody? Moreover the smug answer ascribing a singular role in the Partition to the differences between Hindus and Muslims fails to deal with the fact that the number of Muslims in India is greater than the population of Pakistan.
That is why some questions remain: is the centripetal pull of India an inexorable force that could again pull the Indus region (Pakistan) to itself? Or does the Indus region have a primordial existence outside India? Does it not have an identity of its own?
It is bold, innovative, provocative
and highly readable.
- Khushwant Singh
PART ONE: THE TWO REGIONS 2000 BC TO AD 1800
The Priests of Prehistory
The Man on Horseback
Iron, Krishna and Buddha Destroy the Tribe
Porus: An Indus Version
Pax Mauryana: the First Universal State
The Oxus and the Indus
The Romance of Raja Rasalu
Feudalization and the first Feudal State
An Arab Visitor
More Men on Horseback
The Second Feudal State
Turbulent North, Peaceful South and Panipat
The Second Universal State
Resistance, Opportunism and Consumerism
Bhakti, Nanak and the Sufis
PART TWO: THE TWO WORLDS AD 1600 TO AD 1897
The Europe that Came to India
The India That Awaited Europe
Uneasy Heads on the Peacock Throne
Tombs, Ostentation and Land Tenure
Sea Power and Military Tactics
The Sikhs and the Subsidiary States
The Third Universal State
PART THREE: THE TWO NATIONS AD 1757 TO AD 1947
The Character of the Hindu Muslim Divide
The Famine and Settlement
The Economic Divide
Whither the Muslims?
The Songs of the Indus Fight
Parting of the Ways