The post explains “Ethnic issues and national integration in Pakistan CSS. Pakistan failure in national integration. Challenges to national integration in Pakistan. Ethnic issues and national integration in Pakistan CSS. Ethnic issues and national integration in Pakistan CSS.”
The below article is taken from Dawn Newspaper.
Ethnic Issues And National Integration in Pakistan CSS
“We are now all Pakistanis — not Balochis, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, Punjabis and so on — and as Pakistanis we must feel, behave and act, and we should be proud to be known as Pakistanis and nothing else’’. Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (June 15, 1948).
The challenge of national integration in Pakistan is as old as the history of this country. Formed on an ideological ground with the religion of Islam as its prime source of identity, Pakistan began to face numerous issues of language and ethnicity in its formative phase. Ethnic nationalism began to be in conflict with religion particularly in the then East Pakistan where language movement emerged as a cogent force challenging those who wanted that the country should be governed according to the ideology of Islam rather than language, ethnicity or place of origin.
Some of the major ethnic issues Pakistan facing today are;
- Linguistic movements
- Sub-national politics
Causes Of Ethnic Issues in Pakistan
Unfortunately, after the creation of Pakistan, religion which was the bond trying to integrate the nascent state became weak as economic and political exploitation of the majority province of East Pakistan and the smaller provinces of West Pakistan under the system of one-unit and parity unleashed the process of ethnic and lingual nationalism.
Second, democracy, rule of law, justice system and good governance which should have been the essence of the new state of Pakistan went into oblivion. Democracy became the first casualty because of military-bureaucratic nexus to seize power through unconstitutional means. Back to back imposition of martial law and military takeover diminished hopes to transform Pakistan as a viable nation state.
Furthermore, the propensity to seek and explore migration as an option so as to achieve a better life abroad means lack of responsibility and commitment to put things in order. Pakistani diaspora, which reflects brain drain from the country is more than 10 million as their migration means to a large extent the failure of state to fulfil essential needs of citizens like clean and safe drinking water, better education, equal employment opportunities, housing, public transport, health and basic security.
The failure of national integration in creating Pakistani man and woman has much to do with dysfunctional educational system of the country which is unable to provide equal opportunities to children to seek basic quality education. In the absence of a uniform educational system, particularly in terms of curricula and mode of education, one cannot expect the youths of Pakistan, who are around 50 per cent of the population, to seek attachment with the land, values, culture, history and other characteristics of the country. It should be state’s responsibility to provide free, compulsory and quality education to all the citizens of Pakistan till high school regardless of their class, language, sect, religion and place of origin.
In case of Pakistan, the situation is perplexed and rather challenging because it was created as a state like Israel on religious grounds. While Jews from all over the world reached their new homeland along with different cultures and became a majority in a land which was earlier called as Palestine, in case of Pakistan, those who had migrated from India with a common language Urdu were a minority as local people living in a new state already had their established languages and cultures. Therefore, for national integration, whether in case of the United States or India, language was not a major issue as English and Hindi, which were the languages of dominant groups in the two countries were adopted. In case of Pakistan, Urdu was declared as a national language despite the fact that it was not the mother tongue of the majority and was considered only as a lingua franca. As a result, conflict over national language emerged in the formative phase of Pakistan when Urdu was rather imposed on the then East Pakistan. Although, in 1956, Bengali was given the status of a national language along with Urdu, the damage was done and Bengali nationalism became a major force culminating into the disintegration of Pakistan in December 1971. The post-1971 Pakistan failed to learn lessons from the trauma of separation as language riots in Sindh broke out when Sindhi was declared as a language of the province by the Sindh Assembly in July 1972. Urdu is a mode of communication and is the language of the provinces of Balochistan, KPK and Punjab yet, it is not the mother tongue of 90 per cent of the people of Pakistan.
It is not only language which matters as far as national integration is concerned but tolerance and acceptance of each other regardless of variation in culture, class and religion also matters. Biases on ethnic, cultural, lingual, religious or sectarian grounds can never lead to political or economic stability. Pakistan’s predicament is prejudices and intolerance on the basis of language, place of origin and sect still persists.
When people start identifying themselves with their language, culture, religion and sect and not with the country, one cannot expect national integration to take place. When lingual and ethnic consideration undermines merit in appointments and promotions, that country can never emerge as a unified nation.
Many countries face the challenge of national integration but in some cases their leadership is able to integrate diverse people by ensuring social justice, tolerance, rule of law, good governance and democratic pluralism. Pakistan’s quest for national integration would remain elusive unless the bottom-top approach is adopted where a sense of belonging to the country evolves at the grassroots’ level. Care for the resources of the country and pursuing a tolerant approach vis-à-vis those who are different in race, language, class, religion and sect will go a long way in promoting what is called as “Pakistaniat.” Promoting the culture of merit instead of favouritism and nepotism is also the essence to achieve the goal of national integration.
Furthermore, no mode of communication can effectively promote national integration as railways because people belonging to different provinces and regions travel together and share their language, culture and way of life. In a nutshell, an insecure state will patronise a particular class or an ethnic group in order to sustain its hold over power but will not be mindful to the damage done to the country by pursuing such a policy.
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