Preeti Dawra in Live Mint:
“One has to continually erase so much of what has been read and heard about this country in order to arrive at the messy truth of the present moment of Pakistan,” says Ayesha Jalal , one of Pakistan’s leading historians and an eminent global South Asian scholar.
“You really have to come here and live its daily contradictions to understand the reality of modern day Pakistan,” adds Jalal, who is the Mary Richardson professor of history at Tufts University in the US where she teaches both in the history department and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She has also taught at Harvard and Columbia University.
Jalal, an elegant woman in her mid-fifties with a feisty intellect and sharp tongue, was born in Lahore. Her father is Hamid Jalal, a senior Pakistani civil servant, and she is the grandniece of the renowned Urdu fiction writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
She explains that when she moved to New York as a teenager, where her father was posted at the Pakistan’s United Nations mission in 1971, she had difficulties reconciling the official narratives of the Pakistani state with daily news reports of atrocities perpetrated by the Pakistan army in then East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh.
“This led me to ask questions about Pakistan’s history and self-representations, which in time came to define my research interests.”