A very common observation from our childhood till now that a cleaner from a non-Muslim faith would be given a separate glass, a separate plate; and it is done so openly without realising that he/she is a human being first, plus born as a Muslim by circumstance not by choice. There are various stereotypes circulating as authentic information in our society and surroundings, such as: that they are not clean, they carry a specific body odour, the worship places of other faiths are so suffocating and closed, and so on and so forth. We are really very harsh at times, being the dominant majority towards the minorities who are also equal human beings and equal citizens of Pakistan — but unfortunately, not accepted or acknowledged. There are multiple reasons contributing to this social behaviour of ours. One of the key factors is the depiction of minority faiths in our books particularly with reference to Pakistan movement. Let’s look back and see how significantly non-Muslims have been contributing to the country. And how our history and Pakistan Studies books never talk about this Whenever it’s a national day celebration like 23rd March, 14th August, birthday or death anniversaries of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam, the whole history of Pakistan movement is repeated with prominent names of Muslim leaders who have been a part of the freedom movement; but there remain some unsung heroes and even the non-Muslims who equally contributed to not only the Pakistan movement, but remained at responsible positions of authority after a Muslim state came into existence. The one-sided version of history dominated by Muslim heroes is actually not a matter of one day, one book, or one story. It’s a continuity of history presented in all the books right from early grades till the degree classes, and even in Masters courses. If we have to understand what type of democratic Pakistan was visualized by Quaid-e-Azam, I think his speech on 11th August 1947 is the clearest expression of when he declared the legislature as the protector of the law and order, along with state being the guardian of life, property and religious beliefs of all its citizens, not just Muslims. Looking at Pakistan movement and our journey of independence, the narrative is one-sided: depicting Muslims as the most vulnerable and most innocent religious community surrounded by clever, wicked, narrow-minded selfish non-Muslims — Hindus — who were always after their religious and cultural values. Let’s look back at the history and see how significantly non-Muslims have been contributing, and our history Pakistan studies books never talk about. Joginder Nath Mandal was one prominent non-Muslim contributor to Pakistan movement. Being a Hindu by faith from the Dalit caste, Mr Mandal represented Pakistan Muslim League in 1946; as a Minister, he also presided over the historical session of the first Constituent Assembly where Mr Jinnah was sworn in as the first Governor General of Pakistan. Our historians very rarely talk about his support and assistance to the Quaid. Rather, the depiction of Hindus is so intensely negative — even in the Pakistan studies course at the bachelors degree level — that there is hardly any room left for the positive role. While talking about the Two Nation theory and Pakistan Movement, Hindus are depicted as a cunning and conspiring nation. The words ‘clever’, ‘prejudiced’, ‘narrow-minded’ are frequently used to emphasize and to create the impression of being oppressed. The characteristics of a few individuals do not determine the qualities of a whole nation, and we must make our students understand these at all stages of education. Another important name from Christian community: SP Singha. Very few know him outside the Christian circle, for his contributions as a Pakistani towards the education system of Pakistan, particularly the matric and intermediate system. Apart from that, he was the first Speaker of the Punjab Assembly after Partition, though he had to resign later. The most important role played by Singha and a fellow Christian Ralia Ram was that they gave their unconditional support and decisive vote when the decision was taken for the future of Punjab. It was the vote of SP Singha which added Punjab to the map of Pakistan. It is, of course, a very major contribution by a non-Muslim Pakistani, but how many of us know it? How many narratives of history talk about this unsung hero? We are a Muslim majority country, but unfortunately, in the dominance spree, we totally exclude the characters and contributors who were equally wholehearted and present there to support each and every step of not only Pakistan movement, but even after Partition, they kept playing their role. The first foreign minister, Sir Zafarullah Khan, who worked for seven years with Khan Liaquat Ali Khan and Mohammad Ali Bogra. Zafar Ali Khan was considered to be an influential, skilled and passionate diplomat of his times, as he had a sound political career even before Partition. He was an Ahmadi by faith and was the first and only Pakistani to preside over the UN General Assembly and the International Court of Justice. It was, of course, an honour for the whole nation: but even the highly educated would not be aware of the prestige he earned for Pakistan. The narrative of the Pakistan Movement needs to be revisited in our history books, particularly because these totally exclude the efforts of all minority groups and focus on the glorification of Muslim leaders Chief Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius — a Christian by faith — served as the fourth chief justice of Pakistan, and was nominated by President Ayub Khan. He briefly served as the Law Minister in the cabinet of Yahya Khan. Apart from that, he was among the founders of cricket in post-Partition Pakistan as well. Our books never share these precious contributions unless and until someone tries to find out him/herself, or you get a chance of interaction with the non-Muslim communities, and they would share the stories of these proud Pakistanis. Similarly, the stories of General Musa and Cecil Chaudhry, who were awarded Sitara-e-Jurat, can be in some archives but not in any mainstream text books because, again, faith is the hurdle — though they were true Pakistanis. Fateh-e-Chawinda Major General Abdul Ali Malik and Major General Iftikhar Janjua were a part of social studies books and would have their picture receiving awards from President Ayub Khan, but once they were known as Ahmadis, they vanished. Let’s move ahead with the names of Air Vice Marshal Eric Gordon Hall, Air Commodore Nazir Latif, Squadron Leader Petty Christy, and many more unsung heroes. Dr Abdus Salam winning a Nobel Prize for Pakistan also became controversial with because of his faith. The narrative of the Pakistan Movement needs to be revisited in our history books, particularly because it totally excludes the efforts and affiliations of Hindus, Christians, Ahmadis and all minorities in glorification of Muslim leaders. Let’s be realistic and honest with ourselves. We have to be equally critical as well as appreciative when providing a chance to the reader to think critically and decide. We are in an era where we are talking about coexistence, acceptance, and tolerance for diversity, promoting understanding of religions and interfaith harmony, but in practice, the content in our books is always one-sided and portrays a picture were every object in the Universe was conspiring against us, including the believers of other faiths. Check this: Hindu Islami saqafat kay mukhalif thay. Muslim Saqafta par Hindu saqafat ka asraat ghalib aanay lagay aur Muslaman Hinduon kay tehwaron main Shareek honay lagay) Translation; Hindus were against Muslims culture and Muslim culture got influenced by the Hindu culture as Muslims started participating in the festivals of Hindu Religion. (Pakistan studies for degree classes by Mr XYZ). Now thinking logically, whose fault is it if a Muslim participates in a Hindu festival where there is tolerance and acceptance for diversity? Secondly, Islam has set certain standards while it comes to dealing with non-Muslims and, of course, its tolerance, acceptance and care for diverse groups. Attending a festival doesn’t mean that it’s going to harm your faith. The same book repeatedly targets Hindus and the British as conspiring constantly against the Muslims. The whole scenario depicted leaves hardly any space for the acceptance of Hinduism and Christianity as a religion. Being wicked, being intolerant, aggressive, narrow minded, biased and hypocritical: these are the attributes not restricted to one nation or one faith. As a human being, anyone can possess these characteristics. Similarly, kindheartedness, love, and wisdom can be anybody’s quality rather than being the heritage of one nation. Our authors and textbook writers really need to come up with the content that supports the positive image of all Pakistan citizens, of all faiths living here, irrespective of their denominations and differences. Similarly, the narrative of the Freedom Movement needs to at least be appreciated, and it must also acknowledge the key role played by the non-Muslim along with Muslims to attain a land that was meant for all. It would be the first step towards reviving the lost memories of our heroes from minority faiths; plus, they would receive the respect and recognition in the minds of Pakistan’s future generations. The writer has experience in the field of education and is currently working as a resource person in the development sector Published in Daily Times, September 22nd 2017.