A Pakistani in search of a homeland

Posted July 2, 2013 by Dr Koenraad Elst in Analysis

In Eurasia Review on 25 December 2012, Khan A. Sufyan published a paper titled: “Pakistan: The True Heir Of Indus Valley Civilization – Analysis”. In it, he argues that Pakistan is not just the state for South-Asian Muslims created by Mohammed Ali Jinnah in 1947, but was in fact delineated already by the Harappan civilization. After all, its extent coincided roughly with that of modern Pakistan, and not for nothing it is called the “Indus civilization”, after Pakistan’s main river. He is the typical Pakistani Hindu-hater who pretends that Pakistan was necessary for fear of “Hindu domination”, as if Hindus were not extremely benevolent towards their minorities. His aim is to give body to the official Pakistani propaganda of “five thousand years of Pakistan”. Let us evaluate the case he makes.

First of all, the extent of the Harappan civilization. An important number of cities lie outside Pakistan, from the Afghan colony of Shortugai to a large number is Gujarat, including the port of Lothal, and another large number in India, including the metropolis of Rakhigarhi. Many of these cities are near the bed of the Saraswati in Haryana, which is why Indian archeologists are entitled to speak of “Sindhu-Saraswati civilization”. The emphasis on the Indus is the result of the first discoveries, viz. of Mohenjo Daro on and Harappa near the Indus, but is now dated. Note that this civilization was much larger than the contemporary Mesopotamian civilization. If we don’t look too closely on the map, with a Martian’s glance, we might say that its borders very roughly coincide with those of Pakistan.

Sufyan’s thesis is that Pakistan “was an outcome of thousands of years of historical, geographical and genetic distinction between the peoples of Indus Valley Civilization and those occupying the Gangetic plains”. Here we see a logical implication of the doctrine behind the Partition, stemming from the Indian Muslims’ immediate interests assuming a continuation of the Westminster democracy in which numbers are important: they could achieve safety and power only in a state where they would form the majority. That state would then, like other states, have to endow itself with a proper history, justifying the state’s continued existence.

This conflicts with the orthodox Islamic calculation, upheld at the time of Partition by Maulana Azad, that (1) democracy is un-Islamic so that, like for the medieval Muslim invaders, power can just as well be obtained by a strong-headed minority, and that (2) in the longer run, the Muslims would obtain the majority in united India anyway, by means of conversions and a higher demographic growth. From the Islamic viewpoint, the history of Pakistan is not important because Pakistan is not important: it can only be a temporary tactic (and not even the best) on the way to the ultimate goal, viz. the Islamization of India. But in a confrontation with the infidels, anything un-Islamic becomes Islamic by being useful in the confrontation.

Thus, suicide is strictly un-Islamic, but before silly secularist or Western commentators say that therefore suicide-bombing must be un-Islamic, let us realize that before an Islamic court, any would-be (or failed) suicide-bomber can successfully plead that in this case, his suicide was the way to inflict terror on the infidels, hence Islamically correct. Pakistan, therefore, is the fruit of a hybrid ideology, mainly consisting of Islam but adding un-Islamic elements from modern majority rule and nationalism because these were deemed necessary for the Indian Muslims in the then-prevailing circumstances. In particular, the attempt to streamline a country’s history in the service of the present state’s continued existence is not Islamic but nationalist; however, it is Islamic in so far as the state of Pakistan is a useful instrument in the Islamization of the whole of South Asia.

As a real Pakistani patriot, Sufyan lists Harappan cities found in the four provinces of his country. Nothing against that, but we repeat that he could also have listed cities from Afghanistan, Gujarat, East Panjab and Haryana. Here is his main argument: “The South Asian subcontinent is principally divided into two major geographical regions; the Indus Valley and its westerly inclined tributaries, and the Ganges Valley with its easterly inclined tributaries. In his book, The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan, Aitzaz Ahsan identifies the geographical divide between these two regions as the Gurdaspur-Kathiawar salient, a watershed which is southwesterly inclined down to the Arabian Sea. This watershed also depicted the dividing line between the peoples of Indus Valley Civilization and those of Gangetic plains and also corresponds almost exactly with the current day Pakistan-India border. Historically, only the Mauryas, Muslims and the British amalgamated these two regions as a unified state. For most of the remaining history, when one empire did not rule both the regions as a unified state, the Indus Valley Civilizational domain was always governed as one separate political entity.”

Burial Pottery in Harappan CivilisationAs a historical claim, his thesis is largely untrue. For instance, the Gupta and Sikh empires clearly saddled this border, and one looks in vain for a historical kingdom coinciding with the Indus territory or with modern-day Pakistan. But the geological claim is of better quality. East Panjab and Kashmir constitute Indian parts of the Indus region (or is this a veiled Pakistani claim to these regions?), but further downstream, the border does roughly coincide with the watershed defining the Indus area. But is this watershed of political or civilizational relevance? The Aegean Sea separated Greece from Ionia, the Greek area of coastal Anatolia, yet the two areas were one in language and culture. Jinnah also didn’t base his Pakistan on this watershed: he would gladly have included the Nizam’s Hyderabad and did include East Bengal, part of the supposedly un-Pakistani Ganga plain.

Sufyan has the usual swearwords for the Indian archeologists, whom he accuses off-hand of “distorting” and “manipulating” their findings, and even of “forging” a straight line between Harappan and later Hindu civilization. He bases himself predictably on the Aryan invasion chronology, which puts the Vedic age after the Harappan age: “However, the later identification of emergence of Vedic Hindu cultural traditions between 1500 – 600 BC, discounted such linkages.” In reality, the low Western chronology of the Vedas is anything but proven.

He is, however, right to identify the southern Pakistani province of Sindh with the Sumerian-attested name Meluhha. That this name is the origin of the word Mleccha indicates that its people were not embraced or held in high esteem in Vedic circles. And here we run into a phenomenon that Sufyan doesn’t realize yet, but that would certainly serve him well: the areas now constituting Pakistan and Afghanistan were considered inauspicious by the Vedic people. In his book The Rigveda and the Avesta (Delhi 2009), Shrikant Talageri describes how the Northwest was held in suspicion and taken to be the home of people who brought misfortune. In the Ramayana, exile and misery are visited upon Rama and Sita by the hand of Rama’s father’s second wife Kaikeyi, who hailed from the Northwest. In the Mahabharata, the war between the Pandava and Kaurava branches of the Bharata lineage is triggered by Pandu’s death, caused by his being enamoured of Madri, again a wife of Northwestern provenance. Talageri testifies how his own Brahmin family fasted by refraining from consuming Gangetic rice, while Panjab-grown grain was not deemed real food and hence was permitted. This information would marvelously fit in with Sufyan’s project.

So, let us assume that the Vedic people did indeed frown upon the areas now constituting Pakistan. Unfortunately, the quarrel between the Vedic people and the Mlecchas or Dasas from the Northwest has nothing to do with the present state of Pakistan. Both parties were perhaps ethnically or culturally a bit different, but both were Pagans, unwelcome in today’s Pakistan.

It is against the Pagans of Sindh (formerly Meluhha) that Mohammed bin Qasim, revered as the ultimate founder of Pakistan, waged the first successful Jihad on South-Asian soil. Come 1947, it was the West-Panjabi Hindus and Sikhs, straight descendants of the Harappans, who were driven out of West Panjab to make way for the new state of Pakistan. This Islamic state usurps the territory of the Harappans but otherwise wants to have nothing to do with them.

Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-DaroThe contrast between Harappa and Pakistan, or the fundamental Hinduness of the Harappans, is perhaps best illustrated with the three most famous artifacts from the Harappan civilization. The “priest-king” was probably a practitioner of the stellar cult suggested on many Harappan seal. The Quran emphatically forbids the Pagan worship of sun, moon and stars. At any rate, he was not a Muslim but a propagator of Paganism, the same kind against whom Mohammed made war. So, according to Islam, the state religion of Pakistan, the priest-king has been burning in hell for four thousand years. As for the “dancing-girl”, she exudes self-confidence and is stark naked. In today’s Pakistan, there would be no room for her. In fact, she would be stoned to death. Finally, the “Pashupati seal” may or may not depict Shiva as Lord of the Animals, but the character depicted would certainly feel more at home in a Hindu temple than in a mosque. A figure in a yoga posture clearly belongs in India more than in Pakistan. There is nothing Islamic and therefore nothing Pakistani about these three faces of the Indus civilization.

Most Pakistanis are biological descendants of the Harappans, as are many Indians. So what? Is Khan Sufyan sneakingly revalorizing the un-Islamic notion of ancestry? The Pagan Arabs of Mohammed’s time were his own relatives, yet he chose to fight them. He located his own mother in hell because she was a Pagan. Similarly, the state religion of Pakistan situates the Harappans in hell, eventhough they are the ancestors of today’s Pakistanis. So, the state of Pakistan is estranged from its Harappan heritage, while the Hindus have a far more profound claim on the Sindhu-Saraswati civilization. However, every Pakistani can do something about this. Yes, he can turn Pakistan into the successor-state of Harappa. To do this, he must only do one thing: renounce Islam and reconvert to Harappan Paganism. Paki, come home!


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Belgian Author and Orientalist :A Graduate in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven. He frequently returns to India to study various aspects of its ethno-religio-political configuration and interview Hindu and other leaders and thinkers. His research on the ideological development of Hindu revivalism earned him his Ph.D. in Leuven in 1998. He has also published about multiculturalism, language policy issues, ancient Chinese history and philosophy, comparative religion, and the Aryan invasion debate.