LAHORE: Speakers and art historians on Friday said that one should continue to raise questions regarding history as it is the only way to open new dimensions and help us preserve our history.
They expressed these views during a national seminar titled “In Search of History” arranged by the Artists’ Association of Punjab (AAP) at the Alhamra Hall.
Distinguished art historians, painters and many intellectuals of academia attended the seminar that was presided over by legendary art critic and AAP Chairman Mian Ijaz ul Hassan while Senator Aitzaz Ahsan was the chief guest.
Speaking on the occasion, art critic Mian Ijaz ul Hassan said that art of an era reflects the true picture of that specific time and there is a dire need to own our history that is very rich as one of the ancient civilisations – the Indus Valley Civilisation – once existed in our region. He said that we in this country, unfortunately, portray distorted history as most people try to subvert the actual one according to their desires and needs.
“It is a good omen that our young generation is taking keen interest in learning art and history and now we also have many Ph.D.s in the field of arts who represent our country in many international art conferences,” Hassan said, who himself is an accomplished artist and also a recipient of the Pride of Performance award.
Renowned art critics and historians Dr Kanwal Khalid and Sadia Pasha Kamran also presented their research papers that were highly acknowledged by the participants of the seminar. Professor Sadia said in her paper that history is not just about the events of the past as it also talks about the present and is a reflection of the future.
She said that the art history of Pakistan during the regime of Ziaul Haq was suppressed by the military dictator who discouraged the promotion of arts and culture while introducing hatred and sectarianism in our society.
Prof Dr Kanwal Khalid, who holds a Ph.D. degree in art history, said that an artist is the product of our society. She added that a historian is supposed to do thorough research as the Greek word ‘Historia’ itself means investigation, inquiry and research.
Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, who himself has authored a remarkable book on the history of the region titled ‘The Indus Saga’, said on the occasion that history is a very basic reality, but unfortunately most parts of our history were written in the kings’ courts and therefore our history is biased and distorted. He recalled his memories of writing his book and said that he wrote it during his days of imprisonment in Zia’s regime.
“Our students are taught that our roots are traced back to the Arabs instead of teaching them the real history that can aware them regarding their own region,” he said.
Our so-called custodians of history discourage the healthy tradition of raising questions, but I assure you that only putting up new questions can open new dimensions of knowledge and it is the only way to preserve our true account of history, he added.
The seminar was followed by a series of questions from noted art historians including Dr Shazia Mukhtar of Government College for Women Gulberg, Dr Riffat Dar and Dr Sarah Umer of LCWU and Dr Rahat to name few.