Tonk, British India
Ali obtained an M.A. in History from Sindh University, Jamshoro in 1963. In 1972, he went first to London and then to Germany for higher studies and attained a PhD (on the Mughal Period of India) at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany in 1976. Later he became head of the History department at the University of Sindh. He was the director of the Goethe Institute in Lahore until 1996. He is also the editor of the quarterly journal Taarikh ("History"). He has been widely interviewed by electronic and print media in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East.
In 1999, while speaking at a seminar in Mumbai organised by the NGO Khoj, Ali referred to fundamentalism's effects on historical scholarship in his country. He described how after 1965, ancient history stopped being taught in Pakistan, barring a mention of the Indus Valley Civilization. The official line is that anything outside of the syllabus "is not part of our history". He further stated that official historiography in Pakistan is committed to the two-nation theory. Questioning it can lead to imprisonment for ten years under the Pakistan Ideology Act of 1991.
Speaking at the "National Seminar on Rani Kot", he called for reading and writing history from a different angle, in which invaders should not be acclaimed as "great". He said that archaeological sites do have their own significance and referred to the discovery of Mohenjo-daro, reflecting a great civilisation of the region which played a dominant role in the independence movement of the subcontinent, because until its discovery, people of this part of the world were not considered literate or civilised.
He has written a number of books and articles on Indo-Pak history, and has been widely acclaimed as an anti-establishment thinker and historian. He stated in an interview that "No authentic history has yet been written about Pakistan and its independence. There is a lot of confusion among the so-called pro-Establishment historians and educationists. Whatever has been written so far is distortion of history and entirely unbalanced."
Dr Mubarak Ali has called for the rewriting of the subcontinent's history and correction of what he called "historical aberrations", so that the hatred and misunderstanding prevailing between the people of India and Pakistan could come to an end. He said textbooks in the two countries had been systematically distorted and that the time had come to reverse the trend.
Ali has said that "any system based on oppression, coercion and authoritarianism [is] the first problem in the way of writing history". Pakistan's history has been dictated, he said, by politics and the personal ideologies of autocratic rulers. He also reiterated his call for "history to be analysed and rewritten from the perspective of the masses instead of the viewpoint of rulers".
In 2005 Ali claimed that police were harassing him and investigating him to "verify his learning", and that he was considering leaving Pakistan forever. Four First Information Reports were lodged against him in Lahore.
In 2007, three of his books were launched: Qadeem Hindustan ("Ancient India"), Ahd-i-Wusta ka Hindustan ("India of the Middle Ages") and Bartanvi Hindustan ("British India"), published jointly by the NGO ActionAid and the Fiction House. These books were geared towards young readers. Speaking at the launch, Ali also stated that the Pakistani curricula did not contain any citation about Ashoka the Great, whose reign witnessed peace and religious harmony. According to Ali, "it was the British who destroyed the harmony and sowed the seeds of hatred among Hindus and Muslims as the Mughals' policy of religious harmony continued to be applied despite all sorts of hiccups".
According to Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as a compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq, as part of a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. "The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion – that's why they don't have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe out all of them."
Speaking at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office in May 2009, Mubarak Ali said, "democracy in Pakistan had an imprint of martial laws and what we were witnessing today could at best be described as 'feudal democracy'. It's the third generation of feudals who are ruling Pakistan," he remarked. He said although Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) lost the elections, religiosity has grown in Pakistan to such an extent that "every political party in the National Assembly is an MMA and it's the assembly that approved Nizam-e-Adl regulation."
His most recent comprehensive book in Urdu, Taareekh Ki Daryafat is considered his most concise work. The first part of the book deals with heroism and society, historiography in the 20th century, how we should write history, and autobiography, while the second part comprises a large number of topics. These interpretations are like revival of some controversies, for example about Mughal Muslim India, relation between Ottoman and Mughal, religion and its political use, Islamic Scholars and modernism, French revolution, Indus Civilization, imperialism and fundamentalism, history of coil and coffee, honour killing, forgetful men and the latest trends in historiography.
- Taareekh ki Daryafat, Dost Publications-wordmate, Islamabad, 2009
- Mulhid ka Overcoat, Fiction House, Lahore, 3rd Ed. 2013
- In the Shadow of History, Nigarshat, Lahore
- History on Trial, Fiction House, Lahore, 1999
- Tareekh Aur Nisabi Kutub, Fiction House, Lahore, 2013.
- Shaahi Mahal (Royal Palace), Fiction House, Lahore, 1992, Pages 232.
- Taarikh kee Roshnee (Light of History), Fiction House, Lahore, 4th Ed. 2012, pages 160.
- Aakhri Ehad Mugliah kaa Hindostaan (India in Last Mughal Rule), Fiction House, Lahore, 7th Ed. 2012.
- Gumshudah Taareekh (Lost History) Fiction House, Lahore, 2012
- Taareekh aur Daanishver (History and Intlectual), Fiction House, Lahore, 2012.
- Taareekh aur Sisaayset (History and Politics), Fiction House, Lahore, 5th Edition 2012.
- Taareekh aur Aaj Kee Duniyaa (History and Today's world, Fiction House, Lahore, 2012.
- Dar Dar Thokar Khaaey, Autobiography, Fiction House, 18-Muzang, Lahore, 6th Ed. 2012
- Taareekh, Thug aur Daacu (History, Thug and Bandit), Fiction House, Lahore, 2013
- Bartaanvi Raaj (British Era), Fiction House, Lahore, 3rd Edition 2012
- Gulaami aur Nasel Parasti (Slavery and Racism), Fiction House, Lahore, 2013
- Taarikh aur Falsfa-e-Taarikh (History and Philosophy of History, Fiction House, Lahore, 4th Ed. 2005
- Mughal Darbaaar (Mughal Court), Fiction House, Lahore, 2012
- Achoot Logoun Kaa Adab (Literature of Untouchables) Co-written by Razi Abdi, Fiction House, Lahore, 1994
- Bar-e Sagheer Mein Mulsmaan Muashrey kaa Almeya, Fiction House, Lahore, 7th Ed. 2012
- Niji Zindgi Ki Tarrekh (History of Private Life), Fiction House, Lahore 2012
- Traikh Shinaasi, Fiction House, Lahore 2012
- Tarikh Kay Badaltey Nazriaat, Fiction House, Lahore 2012
- Tarikh aur Mazhabi Tehreekein, Fiction House, Lahore 2013
- Akbar kaa Hindostan, translated by Dr. Mubarak Ali 2012
- Europe kaa Arooj (Rise of Europe), Fiction House, Lahore 2012
- Jadeed Taarikh (Modern History), Fiction House, Lahore
- Taarikh aur Tehqeeq (History and Research), Fiction House, Lahore
- Pather kaa Zamaanah (Stone Age), Fiction House, Lahore
- Kaansi Kaa Zammanah (Bronze Age), Fiction House, Lahore
- Lohey Kaa Zamanah (Iron Age), Fiction House, Lahore
- Tarikh or Aurot, Fiction House
- Pakistani Moashra, Fiction House
- Badalti Hui Tarikh, Fiction House
- Tarikh or Tehqeeq, Fiction House
- Sindh ki Tarikh Kia Hey, Fiction House
- Tarikh Shanasi, Fiction House
- Ulma or Siasat, Fiction House
- Quaid e Azam Kia They Kia Nahi they, Fiction house
- Sindh Ki Awaz, Fiction House
- Sindh Khamoshi Ki Awaz, Fiction house
- sindh ki Samaji or Saqafti Tareekh, Fiction house
- Interviews or Tasuraat, Fiction House
- Lutfullah ki aab-biti, Fiction House
- Tarikh—Khana or Khaney Key Aadaab, Fiction House
- Pakistan me Marshal Law Ki Tareekh, Fiction House Ed.2014
- Tahzeeb ki Kahani, Fiction House (3 parts in one)
- Hindustaan ki Tareekh, Fiction House (3 parts in one)
- Tareekh Ki Wapsi, Fiction House Ed.2014
- Nationalism kya Hey??,Fiction House Ed.2014
- Tareekh or Awam,Fiction House Ed.2014
(All books are available at Fiction House Urdu Bazar Karachi and Lahore)
- Dr Mubarak Ali says police harassing and humiliating him, Daily Times, 24 October 2005
- Our History, their history, Daily Excelsior, 11 November 1999
- Committee formed to explore history of Sindh, Dawn, 1 December 2006
- History is different from farce: Dr Mubarak, Dawn, 9 July 2008
- Can history be rewritten?, Dawn, 26 September 2007
- A distorted history, Dawn, 10 July 2008
- Unbiased record of history must for enlightenment: Dr Mubarak Ali’s books launched, Dawn, 29 May 2007
- The threat of Pakistan's revisionist texts, The Guardian, 18 May 2009
- ‘Interior ministry greatest violator of human rights’, The News International, 6 May 2009
- Mubarak Ali Papers, International Institute of Social History