AMBASSADOR Shahid M Amin (R) is a prolific writer on Pakistan, foreign policy and international relations. He has several popular books to his credit. True to its title, it is both concise and precise. In fact, it is succinct, like a sweet-sour-saltish juicy fleshy fibrous fruit: a Pakistani mango or ‘kinnu’.
In just 288 hard cover, library size pages, it has summarized the History of Pakistan from the beginning to the end, in 21 chapters. The learned author’s style is clear, critical and analytical. It is candidly objective. The irony of human history is that it begins to get falsified biasedly, right in its making — and its contemporary recording. That, less because of human error, and more because of egoistical personal, partisan and political power biases. That, to my mind, is the intrinsic dilemma of historiography.
The above is also true of Pakistan’s History. Despite that, the learned author has tried to be as objective as possible, by delving deep into his sources, both primary and secondary (even tertiary). As such, the book is well researched, indicated by the end of each chapter references. Of course, one misses the usual Select Bibliography at the end of a research work. Even then, the book appeals to graduate and post-graduate students and teachers, as well as researchers, serving as a short standard and reliable reference work, for ready reference. The author has covered trans-continental ground in his historical sweep and panoramic vision. Starting in the first chapter with the “Pre-Islamic Period in Pakistan’s History”, he overviews the Muslim Rule in India in several subsequent chapters, to fly over all the dynasties. The British Raj, the 1857 Revolt’ Mutiny or War, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan the Pakistan Movement, follow. Independence, early days of Pakistan and Post-Independence periods are assessed chapter by chapter.
Constitution-making, military rulers and their rule, and political governments are analysed. The roles of Chaudhry Rahmat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and other Founders of Pakistan, stalwart men and women, are focused. Chapter 20 is about Pakistan Since 2008. The last chapter 21 is given to Pakistan’s Foreign Policy. A distinction needs to be made between Pakistan’s History and Pakistan Studies. Since Shahid M Amin has also taught Pakistan Studies, severally, I would like to urge him to consider to write a book on Pakistan Studies, per se, covering the following core themes: i)Pakistan’s History. ii) Its Culture. iii) Its Geography. iv) Its Geosociology. v) Its Political Economy. vi) Its Constitution. vii) Its Institutions. viii) Education As Enlightenment: “Irfan” and HRD: As the Key to the Future. ix) Pakistan’s Domestic Policy.x) Its Foreign Policy. xi) Founders’ Vision of Pakistan: Focus: Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Chaudhrey Rahmat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Madar-i-Millat Mohtrama Miss Fatima Jinnah. xii) Pakistan Futuristics and Peace: The Foreseeable Future: 2017-2050. We all have our all-too-natural human biases. I feel gratified to note that Shahid M Amin’s most enlightened bias is Pakistan and Islam.
(The book is dedicated to Late Mr Zahid Malik, Founder of Nazriya Pakistan Council and Editor-in-Chief Daily Pakistan Observer, Islamabad).