Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan
It was in the splendid afternoon of 22 January 2023 that I, accompanied by my son Lt Col Ehsan Ullah Khan and other family members, visited Pakistan Monument Museum (PMM), also known as Islamabad Museum, located opposite the Pakistan National Monument (PNM) raised on top of a hill, the famous tourist destination and all-weather picnic spot, the picturesque Shakarparian Hills overlooking Zero Point, Islamabad.
Though in the past I had visited Shakarparian hills as an enthusiast of ‘nature’ and its entrancing beauty, this was my maiden visit to this wonderful museum after it was established by the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (NIFTH) in 2010 under the umbrella of Lok Virsa. The museum is established to pay tribute to our great national heroes who faced hardships of unimaginable magnitude, endured vicarious sufferings and sacrificed everything to get the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent freed from the shackles of slavery, and to make the posterity aware of the great sacrifices rendered by their heroes to bring them a better tomorrow.
It had long remained my earnest desire to visit this historic museum which so splendidly bears the complete history of the long journey and arduous struggles entailing unprecedented sacrifices rendered for the creation of a country which emerged on world map in 1947 with the name of ‘Pakistan’ despite the fact that many of the world’s leaders of that time termed it a lunatic’s dream.
An excellent museum with an extraordinary layout which tells us the untold history of our beloved country and the long struggles that went into it to realize the dream. It has under one roof all one needs to know about Pakistan. It comprehensively depicts ancient civilization like Ghandhara art, arrival of Islam in the Subcontinent with the establishment of Muslim rule in the Western parts of Indian Subcontinent by Muhammad bin Qasim in 711 AD followed by Ghaznavids in the eleventh century and then on, the conquest of Delhi by Ghoris which became the seat of Muslim Empire successively ruled by the Slave Dynasty, Khiljis, Tughlaks, Syeds, Lodhis, Suris and finally Mughal Dynasty’s long rule spanning over more than three centuries which started in 1526 with Emperor Babur and ended with the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1857 after the failure of War of Independence.
The museum provides the visitors an in-depth insight into different phases of Pakistan Movement starting from the Aligarh Movement led by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and duly supported by His Highness Aga Khan III and other prominent freedom fighters thus paving the way for a separate homeland for the Muslims of Indian Subcontinent. It depicts the famous Two-Nation theory given by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allama Iqbal’s Allahabad address of 1930 wherein he suggested that Punjab, NWFP, Sindh and Baluchistan be amalgamated into a single state, the historic address that contained the spirit of Pakistan without explicitly suggesting the name; and finally, Lahore Resolution popularly known as Pakistan Resolution 1940 leading to the genesis of Pakistan. The museum further depicts the major milestones achieved during Pakistan’s seven decades turbulent history. This is a place one must visit to learn more about the history of Pakistan.
As I entered this fascinating building I felt as if I am living in an era carrying an aura of antiquity and carrying an impression that our journey to freedom just started to move on towards its destination. The moment you enter the portal of the grand building, first thing you encounter is the elegant and imposing figures of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his sister and mother of the nation Fatima Jinnah regally seated in a horse-carriage. One can also find the vintage cars which remained under Qaid-Azam’s official use parked in a corner of the museum. You can see a wax museum chronologically depicting important events leading to the Pakistan Movement.
The facilities this magnificent museum offers to the visitors includes beautiful paintings, wax statues, grand exhibitions that include the history of Indus valley civilization including the Gandhara civilization, arrival of Islam in the Indian Subcontinent with Muhammad bin Qasim, Muslim rule in Indian Subcontinent, the Mughal era, the War of Independence of 1857, historical pictures, reference library, audio-visual archive, a conference Hall and a small auditorium on the entrance of which is written ‘Panorama Hall’ and a separate section where the relics of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal are beautifully laid out. These relics provide an opportunity to the visitor to take a peep at their simple yet dignified life worthy of emulation.
The Pakistan Monument Museum presents a comprehensive history of events that led to the genesis of Pakistan. It pays most befitting tributes to the heroes of Pakistan Movement. The museum presents a phase-wise comprehensive history of struggles and sacrifices rendered by our forefathers that culminated in the creation of an independent country. It rightfully makes a place which every patriotic Pakistani must visit.