Museum tells the story of Pakistan at 72

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The partition of the Indian subcontinent of India forced migration of several hundred thousand people between the new states of Pakistan and India.
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Muhammad Ali Jinah being introduced to Muslim League leaders at Quetta on a visit to Baluchistan.
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Muhammad Ali Jinah with his sister, Fatima Jinah and wife Rati Bi.
Updated 13 August 2019

Museum tells the story of Pakistan at 72

  • National History Museum in Lahore chronicles country’s birth and struggle
  • Pakistan and India never tell the truth about Partition, academic says

LAHORE: Established by the Punjab government, the National History Museum at the Greater Iqbal Park shows all aspects of the country’s history not only after its creation, but also throws light on the struggle of Muslims ruling the subcontinent for centuries prior to Partition.

The mega project was envisaged to keep new generations of Pakistanis informed about the struggle of their forefathers for a separate country.

The museum narrates the tales from the independence movement and the first few years of the newborn state. The historic events, important statistics and speeches of the leaders of the movement have been displayed at the digital library of the National History Museum while another section displays pictures and mementos from the British colonial era.

“I have crossed the 65th year of my life and have come here with my grandson. Every wall, every corner introduces with us to a new phase of the struggle of our elders The pain they bore, they did so for the peace of their people,” Nisha Begum, a visitor, told Arab News.

A portion of the museum showcases the stories with the help of archival content, including newspaper articles, personal letters and first hand accounts.

This portion also shows the scenes of great migration of August 1947. Britain left the subcontinent after 90 years, dividing it into two separate countries. Millions of Muslims started journey to West and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) while millions of Hindus and Sikhs headed in the opposite direction. Unprecedented violence — Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other — was witnessed.

“The carnage was especially intense, with massacres, arson, forced conversions, mass abductions, and savage sexual violence. Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered,” an article from The New Yorker recalled in June 2015.

“I have seen those black days with my eyes. I was little child at that time. I saw trains pelted with dead bodies. The Muslims sacrificed their lives for a peaceful land but the politicians wasted the struggle. The looters have taken control and the noble lost their dignity,” Salahud Din, 82, told Arab News.

Few historians believe that the truth was told to the people of India and Pakistan.




Muhammad Ali Jinah with the central leaders of the All India Muslim League.

“Partition had resulted in the biggest forced migration in history and as many as 14 million people, including 10 million from Punjab, were forcefully evicted. Although historians have failed to narrate the violence, some masterpieces of Urdu literature have highlighted the women’s experiences during Partition,” said historian Dr. Ali Usman Qasmi.

The veterans, however see the 72-year journey of Pakistan with disappointment and hope at the same time.

“The 72-year journey of Pakistan is very pathetic. A few years after its creation, the country entered the clutches of army dictators, and we failed to set up of the country as per our needs. Dictators used the country for personnel gains, depriving the people of their legitimate rights,” said veteran journalist Khadim Hussain, 84.

“I saw the moment of creation of Pakistan. The people sacrificed their lives, properties and relations in the hope of good but successive martial rule destroyed everything. Even a popular leader like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto failed to complete his agenda.”

Gen. Khawaja Ziauddin Abbassi has a different point of view: “Despite having nuclear weapons Pakistan never put the world in danger. It always behaved sensibly. The Pakistani army played important role not only in the development of the country but also contributed for peace at international level.

“Pakistan was created in the name of Islam but unjustified distribution of resources among different segments of society kept the poor away from its blessings.”

The veteran politician Raja Zafrul Haq, who took part in the independence movement, says that Pakistan is a story of success and failure at the same time.

“We lost credibility and international level because of weak system and discontinuity in democratic systems.”


Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

Muslims attend Friday Prayers at the Great Mosque of Al Azhar in Jakarta, Indonesia, as government eases restrictions amid a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, June 5, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 June 2020

Jakarta mosques reopen as city eases virus curbs

  • Mosque capacity reduced to half, with health protocols in place
  • Jakarta remains center of the pandemic in Indonesia

JAKARTA: Mosques in Jakarta welcomed congregations for Friday prayers for the first time after an 11-week shutdown due to coronavirus curbs as the Indonesian capital began to ease control measures.

“I am grateful I can perform Friday prayers again after almost three months,” Ilham Roni, a worshipper at Cut Meutia Mosque in Central Jakarta, told Arab News.

“As a Jakarta resident, I have been complying with city regulations. Now that we can pray again, I follow the health protocols by maintaining social distance, wearing a facial mask and washing my hands (before entering the mosque).”

Mosques are opened by a caretaker 30 minutes before prayer starts and are closed 30 minutes after the conclusion of the congregational prayer.

Caretakers at Al I’thisom Mosque in South Jakarta have been preparing since Tuesday, even before Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan announced on Thursday that the city is extending its COVID-19 restrictions for the third time since measures came into force on April 10.

The capital is easing lockdown curbs in phases, starting with the reopening of places of worship on Friday, although capacity has been halved and strict health protocols put in place.

“We did not know if we would be allowed to reopen the mosque, but we kept preparing to put out markings just in case, and on Thursday we got the confirmation,” one of the mosque caretakers Sumidi, who goes only by one name, told Arab News.

He said the mosque now can only accommodate 400 worshippers out of its normal 1,000 capacity.

Caretakers have put up markings to keep a 1.2-meter distance between worshippers inside the mosque, while in its parking lot, the distance is maintained at 97 cm. Hand-washing facilities have been installed at the entrance.

The governor did not set a fixed date for the extension to end, although the most likely time frame is until the end of June as the city is in a transition mode throughout the month.

Workplaces and businesses with standalone locations can open from June 8, to be followed by non-food retailers in malls and shopping centers from June 15. Recreational parks will be allowed to reopen on June 21.

“Essentially, all activities are allowed to accommodate 50 percent of their normal capacity and by strictly maintaining social distancing measures. The movement of people has to be engineered to meet this criteria,” Baswedan said during a live press conference. “This is the golden rule during the transition phase.”

"If we see a spike in new cases during this phase, the city administration will have to enforce its authority to halt these eased restrictions. It is our ‘emergency brake’ policy,” Baswedan said.

Jakarta remains the center of the pandemic in Indonesia, although infections in the city no longer account for half or more of the national tally, as has been the case since the outbreak was confirmed in Indonesia in early March.

As of June 5, Jakarta accounts for 7,766 cases of infections out of the 29,521 in the national total, with 524 deaths out of 1,770 who have died in the country.

Baswedan said since the introduction of restrictions in mid-March, the city has seen a significant drop in infections and deaths following a peak in mid-April.

But the transition phase depends on the residents’ continued strict compliance with virus-control measures, he said.

“We will evaluate by the end of June. If all indicators are good, we can begin the second phase,” Baswedan said.

“We don’t want to go back to the way it was in the previous month.”