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Lack of Nationalism

March 23, 2013

Pakistan's Flag. -Photo by APP
File photo by APP

Why was Pakistan created? What was its genesis and what ideology was driving the Pakistan movement?

These are the questions which have been debated ever since Pakistan came into existence.

While everyone agrees that Pakistan should be modeled around Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s views, the contention arises over what exactly was in his mind for Pakistan?

It did not help that Jinnah died in 1948, just a year after Pakistan was born, with his plans still ambiguously stated. He authored no books and wrote no policy papers.

He delivered many speeches which are freely cherry-picked today, with some finding in them a liberal and secular voice; others an embodiment of Islamic values.

Both sides have been blaming the downfall and chaos in Pakistan on each other.

Liberals argue and blame Zia’s Islamisation as the root of all problems while Islamists blame the westernization and secularization of Pakistan as the crux of all the problems.

The confusion has reached the level of point of no return.

It is about time we stopped arguing over what Jinnah wanted, or what perhaps Iqbal wanted, or whether they were secular or not. There is a desperate need to change the debate in our curriculum, media, and households.

We need to stop moving around the same mulberry bush just to understand the basic structure upon which Pakistan was created.

We need to start asking the right questions to reach the right answers.

The need of the hour is what do we want for Pakistan today and how do we intend to achieve what we want for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s history is filled with instances of wrongdoings on the part of our forefathers.

Who can deny that the right of equality was negated when the concept of minorities was introduced in the Pakistani polity through the Objectives Resolution, or the shattering of the “Two Nation” theory when East Pakistan was separated in 1971 to become Bangladesh, and acknowledging military into politics?

This is our history; we can’t undo it. We cannot continue to protest for actions of the past just because we are too intimidated to accept our responsibilities for the future.

The harsh reality is that Pakistan has been a state since 1947, but is still not a nation.

More precisely, Pakistan is the name of a land and a people inside a certain geographical boundary that lacks the crucial components needed for nationhood including a strong common identity, mental make-up, a shared sense of history and common goals.

In the past efforts were made to unite the people under a catchy slogan about the ideology of Pakistan: “Pakistan ka matlab kya? La illaha illala!” (What is the meaning of Pakistan? There is no God but Allah!).

Unfortunately this phrase did not play the magic it was expected to play, rather it caused certain dominant sects to impose their interpretation of Islam on the smaller sects.

These particular sects also self-acquired the right to declare who can be called a Muslim and who cannot.

Today Pakistan is divided on the one hand between Mohajirs, Pathans, Punjabis and Balochis and on the other between the army, mullahs, landlords and the elite.

Each is trying to impose its views on the other and in doing so they are not only pulling this country towards the deepest abyss of chaos but are also tearing it apart.

We cannot forget that Pakistan was formed for the Muslims of the subcontinent as a state where they were allowed to practice their religion freely; we also cannot forget the fact that Jinnah was a secular person.

He, however, successfully managed to unite a great percentage of the Muslim population of the subcontinent under his leadership for the struggle for a separate homeland.

This unity for the struggle of Pakistan was without any cast or creed differences.

However, today the same cast and creed differences have so profoundly seeped into our society that they are tearing down everything from conscience to morality.

The magic words about any system to be explicitly successful are: Confidence and Thought.

Confidence in a system comes from equitability, justice and sustainability. Plato noted that “thinking is man’s natural instrument for problem solving….any problem could be solved by thought”.

The thinking people of the new and educated generation need to perceive plan and play a defining role in rebuilding the future of Pakistan.

The question is that forgetting our past are we willing to do the right thing for a secure and stable future?

Are we ready to repose confidence in our system?

If not, then are we thinking of playing a defining role in rebuilding the Pakistani society and the Pakistani system in which we can repose confidence?

The answer is that at the moment we are not ready and why not, because we are willing to satisfy ourselves by blaming everyone for the current state of affairs in Pakistan.

What we forget is blaming the bureaucracy, the army and the politicians for corruption, instability and bad governance.

Blaming India for internal anarchy, and the age old saying that whatever is happening in Pakistan is because of America is just an easy way out to escape reality.

The bureaucracy, the army and the politicians did, and are doing, what they are best capable of.

The question now is whether we as citizens can rebuild and put Pakistan together in some new order.

Can we turn our challenges into opportunities?

What is it that Pakistan does not have to offer?

It is blessed with fertile land, countless natural resources and some of the most talented people in the world.

Pakistan has tremendous potential as a country and if its resources are utilized properly then it has the potential to easily become one of the most developed countries of the world!

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, our country is strategically positioned and we can leverage this advantage in any negotiations with foreign powers.

Also, our country is a mineral treasure of sorts and we need to exploit this treasure to protect our economic interest with a view to substantially reduce our dependence on the debt which has increased astronomically.

The question is: are we wholeheartedly ready to exploit the potential this country offers?

If yes, then are we willing to exploit the potential in the right direction? As things stand, it is easier said than done but it is not impossible.

Our spiritual leaders of the different sects have to set examples for their followers by preaching tolerance.

Our politicians have to set examples for their voters by practicing equality.

Our parents have to set examples for their children by removing prejudices.

Our teachers have to set examples for their students by teaching unity.

We have to set examples for the generations to come to find an identity we have not been able to find yet.

The path to creating a patriotic Pakistani nation is daunting.

As the population explodes, oceans of poverty and misery deepen, limbless beggars in the streets multiply, water and clean air become scarce, education is stalemated, true democracy remains elusive, and the distance from a rapidly developing world increases; one is strongly tempted to step aside, give up and admit helplessness.

We will have to unite and strengthen ourselves and in turn strengthen the state in order to enable it to focus on critical challenges.

These include: defeating the forces of extremism and sectarianism, fighting inflation on a war footing, making government operations less costlier and more efficient, reducing our reliance on debt whether internal or external, fighting corruption, making the working of government more open, improving rule of law by respecting the decisions of the superior judiciary, and most of all rebuilding the edifice of our educational system at all levels.

Though Pakistan conveys the impression of being a heap of paradoxes with ever-escalating internal strife, the overall situation is far from reassuring.

However, references on Pakistan being a “failed state,” “sinking nation” or “failing country” clearly appear to be instances of journalistic hyperbole.

Pakistan has proved these wrong in the past while successfully weathering crises it faced and it will, God willing, do so again.

Pakistan does not need a military take over. Neither does it need a sharia system nor westernization.

All Pakistan needs is a united, vibrant and resilient nation!