“Remember we are building up a state which is going to play its full part in the destinies of the whole Islamic World. We, therefore, need a wider outlook, an outlook which transcends the boundaries of provinces, limited nationalism and racialism. We must develop a sense of patriotism which should galvanise and weld us all into one united and strong nation. That is the only way in which we can achieve our goal, the goal of our struggle, the goal for which millions of Muslims have lost their all and laid down their lives.” This Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah said in his speech before the students of Islamia College, Peshawar.
Patriotism is a double-edged sword because on the one hand it ensures the loyalty to one’s country while on the other hand it can be used against those people who differ with the policies of the government or state organs. A patriot of today can be dubbed a traitor tomorrow and vice versa.
Established as a new state on the basis of two-nation theory and facing an existential threat from India, the issue of patriotism became a source of controversy and debate in the country’s national discourse.
Patriotism in Pakistan, like many other countries, is a source of gaining trust and confidence from those who matter. The objective is to prove oneself loyal in front of those who suspect their integrity and can be categorised as a traitor.
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, patriotism means, “a love for or devotion for one’s country.” Cambridge dictionary defines patriotism as, “the feeling of loving your country more than any others and being proud of it.”
According to dictionary.com, patriotism is defined as, “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country, national loyalty.” According to Collins dictionary, patriotism means love for your country and loyalty towards it.”
If love, loyalty, commitment and devotion are fundamental pillars of patriotism then why has the term become so controversial and how the state uses patriotism as criteria to judge one’s loyalty?
After the end of the Second World War, the wave of MacArthurism in America was reflected to judge patriotic feelings for the United States.
General MacArthur, who was the commander of Allied forces in the Pacific during the Second World War, was a diehard anti-communist which he reflected during the Korean war 1950-53.
He was the one who after the Korean War launched a campaign against communist elements in the United States and suspected their patriotism and loyalty for the country. His followers dubbed those as non-patriots who were following Communist or a Socialist ideology.
The U.S President Donald Trump is following the legacy of MacArthur and terms those Americans unpatriotic who differ with his policies.
In India, the wave of patriotism galvanised during and after the Kargil crisis when movies were released and books published depicting patriotic feelings and amalgamating it with Indian nationalism.
Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister and a staunch Hindu nationalist, used the Uri and Pulwama incidents of September 2016 and February 2019 to instigate patriotic, nationalistic and jingoistic feelings among Indians against Pakistan.
BJP, a Hindu nationalist party along with Shiv Sena and other communal organisations unleashed so-called patriotic wave in India for political consumption and termed those Indians as unpatriotic who differ with Modi’s Kashmir policy.
Indian Muslims, who are Indian nationals, have to prove their loyalty to their country every now and then.
Persecution and discrimination of Indian Muslims have reached their peak since Narenda Modi came to power at the centre after 2014 general elections.
Hindu nationalists aspiring to transform India as a Hindu state have warned Muslims to either reconvert as Hindus, to go Pakistan or face liquidation.
Periodic lynching of Indian Muslims on false charges of cow slaughter is another evidence of how intolerant India has become during Modi regime.
Raising patriotic feelings under the garb of Hindu nationalism by the BJP regime strives to gain political mileage and sustain their hold over power.
Pakistan’s position on patriotism at the emergence of the country as a new state on August 14, 1947, was defined by Jinnah. He clearly articulated his perception on patriotism as he believed in granting equal status to all the citizens of Pakistan regardless of their religion or culture.
Things, however, began to transform after Jinnah’s demise and his successors viewed patriotism from a parochial and an intransigent manner. The culture changed with the rise of military-bureaucratic nexus following the assassination of Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan.
One can analyse the culture of patriotism in Pakistan by examining three major realities. First, the culture of patriotism got an impetus in the country’s formative phase. When language movement in the then East Pakistan demanded that along with Urdu, Bengali should also be declared as a national language of Pakistan and the Bengali population of the then East Pakistan which happened to be a majority called for the even distribution of resources along with proper share in employment in bureaucracy and military their loyalty was suspected.
Nationalists of various orientation raised their voice against one unit and an end of discrimination were dubbed unpatriotic. The Urdu-speaking community has its own grievances in this regard.
Second, the mindset which has ruled Pakistan since the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan has monopolised the centres of power and become the custodians of national interest. This leads to frustration, anger and antagonism among those who only raise their voice to protect their interests.
An authoritarian political culture provides a fertile ground for those who use patriotism and loyalty for their own interests.
An unpatriotic person is the one who is corrupt, dishonest, manipulative, power hungry and is involved in nepotism because such acts cause a great harm to the integrity and well-being of a country.
Certainly, those who denied power to the majority party after the 1970 general elections were unpatriotic from any standard because their discriminatory and biased approach led to the disintegration of Jinnah’s Pakistan.
Paradigm shift in the culture of patriotism tends to further strengthen the role of mafias who in the name of patriotism promote corruption and nepotism and single out those who are not involved in loot and plunder.
Third, religion is also used to judge one’s patriotic credentials, as is being done in India.
‘Exclusiveness’ instead of ‘inclusiveness’ is responsible for political polarisation, extremism and insecurity in Pakistan. ‘Inclusive’ political culture by taking all the stakeholders on board instead of excluding those who hold a different point of view is the need of the hour.
For a secure, developed and prosperous future of Pakistan, it is essential for us to stick to the definition of patriotism that was set in stone by the Father of the Nation himself.
The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations, University of Karachi.