Inadequate national archival policy for public record might hurt our recorded history: Experts warned
Hamdard holds National Symposium on Archival Heritage of Pakistan in memory of Hakim Mohammed Said on his 21st martyrdom day
The Colonial records show the positive impact of British had on areas under the rule and avoided Muslim point of view. Inadequate national archive policy for public records might hurt our recorded history. Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari said this while addressing the opening session of national symposium and training workshop on Archival heritage of Pakistan. He is the Chairman, Central Record Office, Government of Sindh and prominent scholar of Applied Archeology and recipient of Sitar-e-Imtiaz. The event was held at Madinat al-Hikmah, Karachi, organized by Hamdard Pakistan in memory of Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said, the entrepreneur, educationist and reformist.
Mrs. Sadia Rashid and Fatema Munir Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO, Hamdard Pakistan along with directors and dy. directors of Hamdard paid a visit to mazar-i-Shaheed-i-Pakistan Hakim Mohammed Said at Madinat al-Hikmah, Karachi and offered fateha on his 21st martyrdom anniversary. Afterwards, they went to Hamdard Public School where they participated in collective “dua” along with the school children in the loving memory of Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said.
Dr. Lashari emphasized the importance of preserving archives as they are source of factual history. He warned of neglecting our archives and sharing the history: “We can find the orders of Mughal emperors, but their age is not defined.” It was the colonial government who formally kept records. The colonial records show the positive impact of the British had on areas under the rule and avoided Muslim point of view. British kept minutest details, such as their correspondence with Talpur rulers of Sindh when British were threatened by French and Russians; they started making formal agreements with rulers of Sindh. Their letters are great asset of Pakistan. When Charles Napier Conquered Sindh he established archives record.
After 1857, the British kept records thus the history we know now is because of them. Personal letters and diaries are valuable part of archives. We should work on written works of those who fought against the British, he asserted. He said, in 1936 Sindh became a province. Then governor of Sindh tried to keep records, but it was not done effectively. Later in 1947, some records were collected but even then it was not organized.
Dr. Lashari highlighted the negligence that was shown throughout the history of Pakistan. We do not have the record from 1947 to 1955, in 1961 capital was shifted from Karachi so did the limited record. In 1976, finally Sindh archives department was created but it had nothing, then Commissioner Karachi handed over his records to Sindh Archive, he informed. He also corrected the common perception about ‘digitization’ that it is an easy technology and said it is not an easy method, this technology keeps on updating, therefore continuous development is needed to carryout digitization.
Dr. Asma Ibrahim, Director, State Bank of Pakistan Museum and Art Gallery Department in her key-note address said that she had 30 years long affiliation with Hamdard, we often invited Hakim Said to our events as a chief guest. He was always on time. Sometime he used to reach destination 8 to 10 minutes before the event and then waited for exact time to enter. It was an important time for me to learn a great deal from him and I also became punctual. His speeches were inspirational and motivating. Same phenomenon I have witnessed in his daughter, Mrs. Sadia Rashid. On maintaining public records and archives and her experience she said: “Although I always wanted to join department of Archeology and Museum, but I was told girls could not join this field, so I joined State Bank and learnt that no one prior to me had even thought of maintaining records. I changed that scenario and now State Bank Museum is an internationally known Museum.
Pakistan has various provincial and national archives that is a treasure of the region comprising its past, current history, policies, culture and economy, she said, adding even though our archives are exceptional but very few people in the world know about it, we have to find out root cause of this phenomenon. To me there are four problems:
1) Accessibility for scholars
2) Bureaucratic hurdles
3) Sheer negligence of staff and archives
4) Lack of expertise and untrained staff.
There is no university in Pakistan that offer degree in this field, this has caused set back to record keeping levels and capabilities as it is an uphill task to manage archive in Pakistan”, she said and added “Punjab archives in collaboration with Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Information Technology University (ITU) have launched an ambitious digitization project. One similar project has been undertaken in by Balochistan Archives, Quetta.
Earlier Vice Chancellor, Hamdard University Prof. Dr. Shabeebul Hasan, while addressing the opening session of symposium said that we had neglected our national duty to preserve our historical heritage and record of archives. We have history of 5000 years and golden age, but we took it for granted. Our past has attached with us, we should give it importance and proceed in order to acquire self-confidence. Paying rich homage to Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said, he said that we should take lesson from the exemplary devotion, dedication, and patriotism and time management of Hakim Sahib to get success in our personal and national lives and to take country forward on the path of progress.
Professor Malahat Sherwani, Director, Bait al-Hikmah Library said: “Today we mark the day of Hakim Mohammed Said’s martyrdom and on this day we all should make efforts to highlight his services to Pakistan so that people realize how much important he was for our country. We should look after our national heritage; therefore, it is imperative to organize a national level symposium, such as this which is being organized today, on regular basis”. We should make a database as Hakim Sahib did when he established this library, Bait al-Hikmah. Hamdard University could play a pivotal role in maintaining our heritage and records, she added.
In second session of the symposium Mir Haider Ali Talpur presented his paper on “Talpur Hukumranoon Ka Ilmi Zauq” (Literary taste of Talpur rulers); Zahir Gul on “Archival Material available in Pakistan”; Zakaria Qasmi on “Islamia College Peshawar’s Library”; Prof. Bushra Almas Jaswal on “Problems and Challenges of Archival Management”; Arshad Mehmood on “Archives and knowledge Repository in State Bank of Pakistan. Naghmana Ansari on “Banking Service Corporation; Aamna Shamim on “Masood Jehandir Research Library; Mohammad Ibrahim on “Archival and Rare Collection in Sindh High Court”; Aaliyah Tayebbi and Fatima Abbas on “Citizen Archives of Pakistan (CAP) and Abdul Hameed on “Literary Treasure of Bait al-Hikmah Library”. They were all of the views that historians, archeologists and archivists must showcase their work in such a way that new generation should get attracted towards Pakistan’s real history, preserve their archives and conserve their historical heritage.
Mrs. Sadia Rashid, Chancellor, Hamdard University and President, Hamdard Foundation Pakistan gave away the “Shields of symposium” to the chief guest, Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari and guest of honour, Dr. Asma Ibrahim. Dr. Ejaz Mohiuddin, dean, faculty of Eastern Medicine offered vote of thanks. Shields and Certificates of Appreciation were also given away by the Chief Guest and Vice Chancellor, Hamdard University to the scholars who presented their papers in the symposium. Besides, educationists, historians, distinguished guest’s, directors of Hamdard, deans, faculty members and students of Hamdard University in large numbers attended the symposium.