The Crafting of History: Christianity, Pakistan, and colonial narratives

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was created in 1947, but its foundation has roots in the pro-segregationist stance of the British colonial administration, which generally viewed Muslims and Hindus (including also Jains, Buddhists, Animists, Christians etc) as incapable of coexistence. In part, such views motivated the many maps of the subcontinent divided by ethnic or religious minority that were drawn up under British rule, although these are mostly as meticulous as they are hopelessly inaccurate.

Nevertheless, the Wiki page for ‘History of Pakistan’ takes you back to the Neolithic period, telling the story of its people through their vibrant past well before Pakistan was conceptualized, and well before Islam was invented/revealed (whichever your preference). It describes the brilliant achievements of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Buddhist and Hindu dynasties which once ruled the area, and their positive contributions to what is now Pakistan.

A map of ‘prevailing religions’ within British India in the year of 1909. The mapping should be seen as highly speculative at best, since many regions depicted consisted of only slight majorities

By contrast, the Wiki page for ‘Christianity in Pakistan’ starts in the 1800s, and does not go further back than the Jesuit missions in the 1500s. In doing so, it casts Christianity as a foreign and alien import – sometimes explicitly with sentences like this: “The Europeans won small numbers of converts to [Christianity]… from the native populations.”

You will find zero mention of the Apostles Thomas and Bartholomew, who were sent to India through the Parthian Empire, and established Orthodox Christian communities that still exist today (see St. Thomas Christians). Nor will you find reference to any of the role played by ancient Pakistan as the heartland of Nestorian Christianity in the Indian subcontinent, or the ecclesiastical province (headquartered in Herat, but comprising most of modern Pakistan) which was elevated to the highest rank under Nestorian Patriarch Sliba-zkha in order to meet the needs of the local population after they fell to the advances of Islam in the mid-late 600s.

Just like evolution, history selects and rejects.