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The Symposium highlighted the awareness of the contribution made by the Commonwealth and in particular South Asia in the First World War.
The British High Commission in Islamabad held a First World War historical symposium at the National Defence University (NDU) as part of the UK Government’s programme of events to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War. The Symposium featured discussions and presentations from leading academics, international speakers and First World War experts from Australia, the UK and Pakistan. These included Professor Humayun Ansari OBE (Director Centre for Minority Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London), Professor Daniel Marston (Principal of Military Studies Programme, Australian National University) and Mr Shiraz Maher (Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London).
The Symposium highlighted the awareness of the contribution made by the Commonwealth and in particular South Asia in the First World War, especially the role played by a very sizable Muslim contingent within the then British Indian Army. The topics discussed at the Symposium ranged from the overall context of South Asia before and during the War, the impact of the War on the region and the personal experiences of soldiers and ‘sepoys’. Although the events of 1914-18 took place some 29 years before the creation of Pakistan, the event brought out how the War continues to resonate in modern Pakistan – both within the Army and the families and villages whose ancestors fought with brave distinction and are remembered with honour to this day.
Speaking at the ceremony the British High Commissioner, Mr. Philip Barton CMG OBE said:
The UK and Pakistan share a deep and long history pre-dating independence by over a century. Today’s discussions about the First World War provide a unique insight into the world of 1914-1918, the contribution of what is now Pakistan and the sacrifices made by the Commonwealth and others a century ago. These shaped the world we live in today. I would like to thank our speakers for sharing their fascinating insights with us, the National Defence University for hosting this event, Institute for Strategic Studies Research and Analysis for its organisation and the students of NDU and neighbouring universities for attending and showing such a keen interest in our shared history.
Press Attaché, British High Commission, Islamabad; tel. 0300 500 5306