I drew a secret line around the borders of Pakistan and rarely stepped over it. In the fall of 2007, I began teaching Islamic history at a small liberal arts college in San Francisco; even though my classes on South Asia and the Middle East could easily have included Pakistan, I made sure to exclude Pakistan from all my syllabi. To avoid ever having to talk about Pakistan, I changed the name of a course a predecessor had titled ‘History of South and Southeast Asia’, to ‘Indian Civilisations’. This now meant that the course took a leisurely route through the Indus Valley Civilisation, the coming of the Aryans, the spread of Jainism and Buddhism in North India, the rise of the Mughal Empire and concluded with British colonial rule and the formation of India and Pakistan in 1947. But, after an emotionally charged lecture on Partition, I would begin a section on modern India and say nothing of Pakistan after the moment of its creation. My class, ‘The Modern Middle East’, covered American wars in Afghanistan but my syllabus screeched to a halt at the Pakistan border.  Although the country inevitably featured in class discussions about US foreign policy, I assigned no readings on Pakistan.  In my other classes, I stayed away from the twentieth century, which meant that the question of Pakistan never arose.

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