Needed: History Department at Karakoram Int’l University

By Muntazir Hussain

In the contemporary era, evidenced by the rapid emergence of novel technologies and ideas, it is easy to overlook the profound significance of history. Nevertheless, it remains crucial to acknowledge that the past shapes our present and lays the foundation for our future. Therefore, establishing a History Department at Karakoram International University (KIU) assumes immense importance as it plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the region’s legacy and ensuring a brighter future for its people.

Karakoram International University is a prestigious institution of higher education situated in Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan, a mountainous northern Pakistan region with a rich cultural heritage and history. The university promotes academic excellence, research, and community service. Despite having a wide range of departments in various fields, including business, engineering, and natural sciences, KIU is yet to establish a department dedicated to history. This is a significant gap that needs to be filled.

The importance of history cannot be overstated. History helps us understand the past and the present, providing insights into the roots of contemporary problems and opportunities. It permits us to learn from the experiences of others, both their successes and failures. History provides a context for current events, helping us make sense of our world. It also helps us develop a sense of identity as individuals and as communities.

In the context of Gilgit-Baltistan, the need for a History Department at Karakoram International University is even more pressing. The region has a long and fascinating history dating back thousands of years. Gilgit-Baltistan was once an essential hub on the ancient Silk Road, the network of trade routes that linked China to the Mediterranean. It has been the crossroads of various civilizations and cultures, including, Iranian, Indians, Chinese and Central Asian.

The region also played a significant role in the history of Islam in the sub-continent. It was a center of Sufi traditions, and many Sufi saints, including, Syed Ali Hamdani and Baba Gundi came to the region to preach Islam. However, the region’s history is not just about its past. It has a direct impact on the present and future of Gilgit-Baltistan. The area is undergoing rapid political, religious, social, and economic changes, which have important historical roots. Understanding the past is vital to understanding the present and charting a course for the future.

Establishing a History Department at KIU would have several benefits for the region. First, it would give students a deeper understanding of their history and culture. This would help them develop a sense of identity and pride in their heritage and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to preserve and promote their cultural heritage. Second, a History Department would create opportunities for research and scholarship, contributing to the region’s intellectual and artistic capital. Third, it would help create a pool of local experts who can contribute to developing the region’s tourism industry.

Besides the benefits above, establishing a History Department at KIU is not without challenges. One of the most substantial challenges is more infrastructure and resources. Developing a History Department requires a sizable investment in faculty, infrastructure, and research materials. KIU will need to invest in building a library with a collection including books, journals, and other research materials. Moreover, the department will also require specialized faculty experts in the region’s history.

In conclusion, establishing a History Department at Karakoram International University is crucial for preserving the past and understanding the present. History offers us with a sense of identity, helps us understand our world, and facilitates us to make informed decisions for the future. Without a committed department to study and teach history, the university and the more comprehensive community risk losing their collective memory and cultural heritage.

By studying history, students can get a deeper appreciation of their own culture and the cultures of others and learn from the errors and triumphs of the past. Moreover, a History Department can contribute to the university’s overall academic and intellectual richness, fostering critical thinking, research, and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The contributor is an M.Phil (History) Scholar at Quaid I Azam University Islamabad.

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