In contrast to various dominant representational themes through which Pakistan's history is rendered intelligible to many (Islam, Muslim nationalism), this essay particularly focuses on a debate surrounding the question of morality (“pure or perverse literature”) connected to short stories on the 1947 partition of British India by Sa'adat Hasan Manto. By concentrating on Manto's writings, this essay revisits Pakistan's early history to demonstrate how, after the country's creation, there was continued debate among intellectuals about what would constitute a national culture—an incomplete discussion that may still be ongoing. Within this context, Manto enables the author to offer a critique of Pakistan's normative national history and to suggest a different path to understand the country's past and, possibly, to envision its future.

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