Muhammad Bin Qasim is a central figure in the history of Pakistan, invoked by the leaders of Pakistan Movement in the past and still quoted as the first Pakistani in our national curriculums today. The story of his conquest of Sindh as the origins of Islam in the sub-continent reifies the idea of Muslim foreignness to the land, cultures, religions, histories of the sub-continent. Pakistan then enters into the picture as the preserver of this alienness. The story of Muhammad Bin Qasim’s conquest, however, is rife with historical inaccuracies. Perhaps the only available historical source of this conquest is the text of Chachnama. The text has originally been believed to be translated from Arabic to Persian by a thirteenth century scholar Ali Kofi. However, Manan Ahmed has recently argued in his book how Kofi wrote the text on his own and invented the story of its translation from the Arabic source in order to give legitimacy to his text, written to please his rulers. Ahmed pointed out the differences of Chachnama with the other Arabic conquest narratives of the eight century to back his argument. The story of Muhammad Bin Qasim’s conquest, in other words, was written centuries after the original event took place and cannot therefore be taken as a factual, historical reference point.

This contestation also brings into the question whole idea of Muslim alienness to the sub-continent. This false narrative has spurred such historical violences as the persecution of Muslims in India and of Hindus in Pakistan. Perhaps, it is the time to move away from such exclusive, paranoid imaginations of a Pakistani Self and develop a new idea of Pakistaniat, the one which is accommodative of our sub continental heritages, cultures, religions, histories.

“The Pakistan Movement started when the first Muslim put his foot on the soil of Sindh, the Gateway of Islam in India.”