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Ethno-nationalist narrative

Published Aug 13, 2012 02:46am


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THIS is apropos of the article ‘The political economy of nativisation’ by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar (Aug 3).

One of the important dimensions he describes is in the context of power and oppression and exploitation narrative in Pakistani society. Indeed, the writer’s point to highlight the ethno-linguistic divide as a challenging one in the current political scenario offers a broader, diverse and timely understanding of the growing unrest and disharmony in Pakistani polity.

On the other hand, the writer views the ethno-linguistic fault line in Pakistan to be much more politicised than class and gender.

It would be naïve to deny the importance of class and gender power relations and socio-political inequalities and oppression.

However, in the post-partition political and historical context, the ethno-nationalist narrative draws pressing attention, especially in the cases of Balochistan and Sindh where strong ethno-nationalist sentiments prevail and which surfaced during the early years of the newly-created state.

It is pertinent to note that the ethno-nationalist narrative based on the politics of cultural identity, economic oppression and exploitation is still relevant and meaningful when we look deeply at the local context of the public discourse: be it in the form of equal distribution of resources among provinces, equal share of development priorities and planning, equal participation and representation in jobs (both civil and military), sports, TV, drama, tourism, industry and corporate private sector, etc.

The strong feelings of deprivation and exploitation are reflected by the majority of historically ignored and non-mainstream youth in the form of nationalist sentiments that they have been denied their rights to equal opportunities in the economic and educational resources.

For instance, the popular Sindhi narrative of oppression and exploitation is being reflected in the public discourses of the blocked opportunities for them to get admissions to higher educational institutions of Karachi such as Karachi University, Dow Medical and NED universities.

The ethno-linguistic gerrymandering in Sindh prevails deeply in the form of clear division of educational institutions, urban centres, streets and area divisions in the same city, conflict over administration and ownership of resources, etc.

The entire scenario of ethnic divide is posing a serious threat to the harmony, diversity and social integration in society.

Strangely, the state seems ignorant of the serious issue posing serious threat to its polity.



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Comments (5) Closed

Sami Aug 13, 2012 04:50am
"blocked opportunities for them to get admissions to higher educational institutions of Karachi such as Karachi University, Dow Medical and NED universities" wow thats a "special" description of a "near to ideal" solution of admission policy. In these universities admissions or seats are divided on the basis of educational boards including other two boards in sindh, hyderabad and sukkur. Of course any student can take admission based on their results or merit. What can be other admission policy? Perhaps writer is interested in blocking admissions (after government jobs) to people not belonging to his ethnic background then he will say its a better policy.
SAMAR Aug 13, 2012 02:24pm
Seva kunj hostel frere road karachi had majority of students(NED) from different part of sindh.
saqib Aug 13, 2012 03:03pm
Excellent letter. Most of the hatred is being spread by nationalist politicians/parties using false figures most of the time. We need strong, Pakistani nationalist figures to counter such claims, but sadly none exist.
Cyrus Howell Aug 14, 2012 12:34am
Who is being oppressed? Who is being killed?
Sikander Aug 14, 2012 01:41am
Dear God, are the ethno-fascists still hung up on the commie narrative? No reservation, only merit. Do "oppressed" communities need to work harder? Yes, by stopping with the victimization narrative which can only paralyze them. If the students at UofK all end up being rural Sindhis, kudos to them. If they all end up being Afghan refugees, so be it.