Pakistan Studies

Pakistan Studies

Pakistan Studies (Urdu: _ur. مطالعہ پاکستان "transl|ur|Muṭāla e-Pākistān") refers to the discipline of academic research and study that encompasses the culture, demographics, geography, history, and politics of Pakistan. The subject is widely researched in and outside the country. Several universities in Pakistan have departments and research centres dedicated to the subject, whereas many independent research institutes carry out multidisciplinary research on Pakistan Studies. There are also a number of international organisations that are engaged in collaborative teaching, research, and exchange activities on the subject.

International organisations

As the second largest South Asian country after India, and one of the major actors in the politics of the Muslim world, the subject remains at the focal point of multidisciplinary studies. [Pakistan Workshop (2007) [ Conference programme and paper abstracts] . Workshop organised by [ Pakistan Studies Group] at University of Leeds. Retrieved on 4 June 2008] Various universities in the United States and the United Kingdom have research groups busy in academic and research related activities on Pakistan Studies. One such example is the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, established since 1973. An affiliate of the Association for Asian Studies, the institute regularly holds events such as seminars, public lectures, and conferences on various topics related to the Pakistan Studies. It also offers annual international fellowships for the research on materials relating to the history and culture of Pakistan. [See the official website of the institute at Retrieved on 4 June 2008] In April 2004, AIPS organised an international workshop on the Salt Range Culture Zone of Pakistan at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. [Meister, M.W. (2006). [ Salt Range Temples, Pakistan] . Retrieved on 4 june 2008] The event provided the international audience with an opportunity to understand the archaeological and architectural heritage of the country.

Another academic initiative is the British Association for Pakistan Studies that was established in 1989. The forum has wider views on the topic than the common historiographical contexts, and encourages research and dialogue that involves both the academics and practitioners. The forum acknowledges that the topic has not received the sort of individual attention that the country and its society deserve, and therefore strives to increase international awareness on the subject. [Malik, I.H. (1996). [ The British Association for Pakistan Studies] . International Institute for Asian Studies. Newsletter 7. Retrieved on 4 June 2008]

There are also larger multinational and multicultural organisations that provide pluralist platforms for the discussions and debates on Pakistan Studies within the wider contexts of Asia. The Asia Foundation, for example, has launched specific projects for a diverse understanding of the subject through actions on local governance, civil society, human rights, and healthcare [ [ Pakistan Projects] at [ The Asia Foundation] website. Retrieved on 6 June 2008.] as well as political, economic, judicial, and foreign relations. [AF (2000). [ Focus on Pakistan] . "Asian Perspectives Seminar". Asia Foundation. 3 February. Retrieved on 6 June 2008.]


Pakistan Studies is one of the few heritage subjects [CIE (2006). [ Education and Skills consultation on IGCSE] . p.6. Retrieved on 6 June 2008.] for O-level [CIE (2008a). [ Cambridge International O Level] . Retrieved on 4 June 2008.] and IGCSE qualifications as governed by Cambridge International Examinations. The syllabus covers Pakistan's history, cultural heritage, national identity, geography, economy, and environment, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by the country. [CIE (2008b). [ Cambridge IGCSE] . Retrieved on 4 June 2008.]

In Pakistan

In Pakistan, the subject is one of the three compulsory courses (along with the Urdu and English language courses) at the Secondary School and Higher Secondary school levels of education. [AKDN (2004). " [ Curriculum for the Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, Hunza] ". Aga Khan Development Network. Retrieved on 4 June 2008] It is also taught as a degree course at most of the Social Science departments in many universities. There are also university departments dedicated to the education and research in Pakistan Studies. [See for example the [ Department of Pakistan Studies] at Federal Urdu University, Karachi. Retrieved on 6 June 2008.]

Many of these departments provide degree programmes for in-depth studies, as well as research facilities for M.Phil and PhD scholars. Courses broadly range from the history, politics and linguistics to the country's geography and economics, and from foreign affairs and religion studies to the social relations and literature. [ [ Department of Pakistan Studies] at Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan. Retrieved on 6 June 2008.] The focused attention on the subject at higher education levels means a wider scope for the research, thus making the subject an increasingly interdisciplinary one.

Curriculum issues

The variable political history of Pakistan shows the country being ruled by the civilian and military leaderships almost alternatively. This lack of political succession has had its effects on the way the history was depicted in the curricula of Pakistan Studies until 2006, which increasingly portrayed what Rubina Saigol termed as 'glorification of military'. [Saigol, R. (1995). "Knowledge and Identity – Articulation of Gender in Educational Discourse in Pakistan". ASR. Lahore.] However, the occasional attempts to alter the historical texts did not escape criticisms from the academics and scholars in Pakistan and abroad. [Hoodbhoy, P.A. and Nayyar, A.K. (1985). [ Rewriting the History of Pakistan] . In A. Khan (ed.) "Islam, Politics and the State: The Pakistan Experience". Zed Books. London. pp. 164-177.] Historian Ayesha Jalal in her 1995 article also raised concerns over the trends of official historiography in Pakistan's history textbooks. [Jalal, A. (1995). [;2-0 Conjuring Pakistan: History as Official Imagining] . "International Journal of Middle East Studies". 27(1). pp. 73-89.] Yvette Rosser, in an article based on her PhD thesis, [Rosser, Y.C. (2003). " [ Curriculum as Destiny: Forging National Identity in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh] ". PhD dissertation. The University of Texas at Austin. August. Retrieved on 6 june 2008.] regards such curriculum as a composite of patriotic discourses. She identifies significant defects, inherent contradictions and inaccurate information within educational syllabus in general and the Pakistan Studies textbooks in particular. [Rosser, Y.C. (2005). [ Cognitive Dissonance in Pakistan Studies Textbooks: Educational Practices of an Islamic State] . "Journal of Islamic State Practices in International Law". 1(2). pp. 4-15] In 2003, Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan published a report that had emerged from a survey of text books of Urdu, English, Social Studies and Civics subjects being taught at the secondary and higher secondary school levels. [Nayyar, A.H. and Salim, A. (eds.)(2003). [ The subtle Subversion: A report on Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan] . Report of the project "A Civil Society Initiative in Curricula and Textbooks Reform". Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad.] The survey identified inaccuracies of fact and omissions that appeared to distort the significance of actual events in the country's history. Some of the prominent issues included the lack of understanding towards the civil society, religious diversity, and gender relations. The report recommended for major structural reforms and establishment of a National Education Advisory Board to centralise the curriculum development and carry out regular revisions. [Nayyar and Salim (2003). pp. ix-xi] About the international perception of the subject, Burzine Waghmar of the School of Oriental and African Studies argues that Pakistan Studies is increasingly perceived with sonorous sessions on weapons control, civil unrest, bonded labour, gender inequality and the like.Waghmar, B. (2005). " [ Pakistan Studies: The State of the Craft] ". Dawn. 27 February. p. 5. Retrieved on 9 June 2008.] These issues are considered among major hurdles to the wider international interest in the subject. Waghmar concludes that Pakistan and India, among other oriental societies, are plagued by visceral nationalism and post-imperial neurosis where state-sanctioned dogmas suppress eclectic historical readings.

Referring to NCERT's extensive review of textbooks in India in 2004, Verghese considered the preaching of hatred and obscurantism in India, and the distortion of history in Pakistan to imply the need for coordination between Bangladeshi, Indian, and Pakistani historians to produce a composite history of the Subcontinent as a common South Asian reader. [Verghese, B.G. (2004). " [ Myth and hate as history] ". The Hindu. 23 June. Retrieved on 7 June 2008.]

However, international scholars also warn that any attempt for educational reforms under international pressure or market demands should not overlook the specific expectations of the people at local levels. [Nelson, M.J. (2006). [ Muslims, Markets, and the Meaning of ‘A Good Education’ in Pakistan] . "Asian Survey". 46(5). pp. 699-720.]

Curriculum reforms

Following the extensive media debate and academic reiteration on the need to update the curricula at all levels of education, the Government of Pakistan carried out measures in 2006 to improve the national curriculum for Pakistan Studies. [Ghauri, I. (2006). " [

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