17 Jan 2018/Wednesday
Pakistan faces numerous problems today like- poverty – corruption – education and even terrorism. Although, a sizeable majority of Pakistanis find themselves as victims of all the above, but these are not the real problems that a modern day Pakistan faces today, as even India has much of the above problems. The real problem of Pakistan lies in its Psyche which has been managed by its rulers and elite to keep them relevant. As part of everlasting strategy, masses have been deliberately kept unaware and clueless by generating carefully orchestrated anti India narratives and embedding them deeply inside the minds of ordinary Pakistanis.
Right since the Independence Pakistan has nurtured a tendency to align with Indian Muslims by bonding with Urdu language and Indo-Mughal heritage, to which the Punjabis and certainly the Mohajirs identify themselves with, but Sindhis, Balochis and Pashtuns don’t. Due to this fact, Pakistani ruling elite which has been dominated by Punjabis and Mohajirs has always considered itself the “Rehnuma” of Indian Muslims, specially J & K. This thought, though propagated by Punjabi and Mohajir elite has never been shared by Sindhis, Balochis, Pashtuns and now recently by Kashmiris of POK. Therefore, there has been a constant endeavor of Pakistani rulers to keep anti India narrative alive in order to keep the country united, which has been plagued by many fault lines.
Then comes the identity of regional cultures versus real culture of Pakistan. Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtun, Kalasha, Kashmiri cultures are suppressed and anti-India culture is nurtured. The Sunni-fication of Pakistan makes communities like Hazaras and Ahmadis the most persecuted and targeted in Pakistan, even worse than Pakistani Hindus. The ethnic identity of Pashtuns and Balochis often have paved way to a Pashtun nationalism in the past and Balochi nationalism, which still goes on. Sindhi nationalists have been another pain in the neck of Pakistan. Mohajirs are discriminated by Punjabis. This is what makes an anti-India culture the most followed culture in Pakistan
In generating anti India narrative Pakistan also looks for a Pan-Islamic identity, the one that grows from idea of Islamic brotherhood and is nurtured by the global Islamic ideas envisioned by Iqbal. This has paved way for an imitation of Persian-Arabic culture and glorifying Central Asian invaders, thinking that Arabs, Persians and Turks are models of Islamic culture, and idolizing them can help Pakistan to be “on track”. In past few years there has been an upsurge and violent assertion of Arab Sunni culture as a model for Pakistan by some right wingers. These right wing violent model of Wahhabism and Salafism has become the Raison d’etre of Pakistan today. Sadly, this has become counterproductive and the state in which Pakistan finds itself today. The whole idea of terrorism in Pakistan gets silently encouraged by the imposition of an anti-Indian (thinking wrongly that its anti-Hindu and hence pro-Islamic) narrative of history and facts. This narratives is the root cause and needs to be altered.
So, in nutshell, what is that one thought that unites all Pakistanis? Sadly, it is simply the anti-Indian Narrative. Though people of Pakistan may not have any issues with Indians, but they do have narratives against India the nation, and stereotyped vision against Hindus, and more often associate India the country with only the Hindu religion.
Let us hope that Pakistani instead of identifying itself with others finds an identity for itself that is inclusive and appreciative of their diversity and culture, instead of imitating Indo-Mughal culture or Arabic culture and in the bargain align itself as protectors of Islam in India using Jihad as a shield. Narratives against India and Hindus need to be countered from within, and once an average Pakistani realises this, terror and extremism from across the border will come to an end leading to eternal peace in the region. Removal of anti-India/Hindu bias will help Pakistan remain united and progressive.
National Counter Narrative on terrorism named Paigham-e-Pak launched on 16 Jan in Islamabad with much fanfare, must also address anti-India bias.