Pakistan Monument Museum:
Pakistan Monument Museum is located near Pakistan Monument in Islamabad. It was built in November 2010. The museum provides an insight into country’s history and the struggle through which the people of Pakistan went through during the sub continent era. It pays a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for a separate homeland. The Pakistan Monument overlooks the heart of Islamabad in an awe inspiring fashion. The project started by Pervez Musharraf in 2004, aimed to provide the residents of Islamabad with a sight to pay homage to the rich history and to represent development and future progress. The monument completed in 2007 is a structure shaped in four petals, representing united people of Pakistan standing shoulder to shoulder, over the crescent and star, hence protecting the motherland and acting as guarantors of progress.
Pakistan Monument Museum is exclusive in the sense that it is all about pre-partition history, diverse traditions and the different contemporary issues being faced by the country.
Interestingly, when the museum was near completion it was found that displays and mannequins used in the museum were substandard, thus the project was handed over to a team of Lok Virsa headed by Kamran Javed, the new ED. The new team then completed the project in a very short period of time.
The thematic museum is divided into various sections (struggle, realization etc.) of pre-partition history, setup in a chronological order. The museum also hosts now few relics of Iqbal and Jinnah in the two separate rooms. There is also a library containing rare manuscripts and some popular books published on the subject.
The displays and statues are really fascinating and deserve commendation with the centerpiece being a magnificent buggy with the founder of the nation and Madr-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah. Life size displays of events are extremely fruitful in passing down lessons of history to the newer generation.
The first section is titled “Arrival of the Muslims” much like how our history books starts at the year 712 A.D., the first display in the section is that of the Indus valley civilization and Gandhara art clearly expressing that we have a long, illustrious history much before the Arabs came to India. Even a buddha statue finds a place before the much revered heroes like Mohammad bin Qasim and Mahmood Ghaznavi. The War of Independence is described as having been fought by the “Indian people”, the Jinnah-Gandhi talks feature prominently in the displays, the much harkened-about August 11 speech of Jinnah is written at two places in the museum, Gandhi’s “Satyagraha” gets an honourable mention, a plaque commemorating the Indian National Congress calls Chandra Pal, Tilak, Lajpat Rai and Gokhale “great leaders” and Dadabhai Naoroji is called the “first legendary icon of Indians”. Even the wall-map of Pakistan shows Gilgit-Baltistan as a disputed territory along with Kashmir. Such brutally honest objectivity in historical narratives and feelings of pride for common heroes is extremely rare in a country where in the words of one of the greatest historians of Pakistan, K K Aziz, history has been murdered.
In the upper gallery, categories like sports, culture, women development, minorities, music, education, health, and of course the armed forces find space in form of pictorial boards and running video films on the LCDs. The major attractions to watch out in the upper gallery are the musical map and sufi map of Pakistan.
Right beside the entrance of the museum there is an Audio/Visual section, which has desktop computers all connected to a local network hosting wide-ranging documentaries from ISPR, popular dramas, old music collection (including Roshan Ara Begum and Begum Akhtar), and rare photographs. There is a small film-screening hall, which have been showing the film ‘Jinnah’ and other films on requests.
Monuments, museums, institutes of artifacts and public exhibits in general are rare in Pakistan. The Pakistan Monument and the associated museum stand out as gems that need to be emulated across the country on various themes and provide the public venues of entertainment, leisure and learning as well. Keeping these gems of public property in their best shape is the public’s job too, but as it so happens there is little ownership of such things in the country. The authorities at this museum have instituted a worthy practice of asking visitors to wear shoe covers so as to keep the museum clean and in a pristine condition. For anyone visiting Islamabad, this is an addition to the must-visit list.