A Question of National Integration in Pakistan
Securing the fundamental rights of every human being is universally recognized as the most significant element of national integration and harmony of any nation.
Upon attainment the fundamental rights, there are obligations of the fundamental duties; the individuals and communities need to undertake and ensure within the ambit of their respective states.
In a way; there is a relationship of give and take, rights and obligations and their acceptable implementation at the level of nation state.
The other elements of national integration include; the transparent and identical justice system, exercise of free will in the form of democracy, a common national cause in the form of ideology and established leadership having indisputable character traits.
The United Nations (UN) Charter amply covers all these besides their explanations given in various conventions and covenants.
The anarchic nature of the international system obliges the nation states to have their own system to ensure their sovereignty and integrity which is the essence of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia.
National integration is the process of achieving harmony, devising a common identity and a national consciousness among the masses and constituent units of a state.
It is a psychological and educational process for the development of common feeling of unity, solidarity and cohesion.
To achieve national integration, factors like; political affiliation, religion, language, culture, tribe, castes and ethnicity though play a significant role, yet need harnessing under a single factor; the nationalism.
The creation of Pakistan though propelled by ideological factor, yet Pakistan has people from other religions who have lived in harmony with the Muslim for decades now.
Indeed, people from all political parties, religions, castes, creeds and different ethnic backgrounds have worked together for a cohesive society and a harmonious state.
Indeed, after its independence in 1947, there has never been a crisis, based on religions or ideologies, though isolated incidents did take place occasionally, which at times were given religious flavor.
The ethnicity at times and indeed misuse of religion by non-state actors did create problems for the state and society of Pakistan.
This misconstrued ideology, indeed, the negative usage of religion is being done by TTP and many other so-called religious elements for promoting their brand of Islam.
This usage is against the essence of Islam and the ideology of Pakistan. Whereas, Islam promotes peace, harmony, mutual respect and sacred nature of the life of every human being, these militants do exactly the opposite.
The self-centeredness of the political parties and their petty gains are a new example of creating disharmony; the evolving political fault lines in Pakistan.
Many factors serve as the base line for the promotion of national integration. Looking at the history of Pakistan and the concept of Two-nation Theory there is a lot to learn and practice in contemporary Pakistani society.
It was Urdu as a language, which became the identity of the Muslims in united India. In 1867, the Urdu-Hindi Dispute appeared as the first indicator, which gave Muslims a realization for their future.
The ambassadors of Hindu-Muslim unity like; Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was compelled to think differently.
The language later united the Muslim under the banner of ideology and Muslims of India got united to have a mother land based on their sacred belief.
Political parties are the product of Pakistan hence should not conspire to divide the masses for the sake of their political outfit and interest of few individuals and families.
There is a massive misuse of main-stream and social media by the workers and leaders of various political parties who constantly provoke the opponents for petty political gains at the cost of national gains and common national interest.
The media, both electronic and print must realizeits responsibility towards promotion of national integration.
The media channels have generally been found lacking in the promotion of national cause and national integration.
There is a strong need that, PAMRA should allocate special and dedicated hours in each media house for the promotion of national integration through nationally motivated narratives and programs.
The media is indeed the most significant pillar, which can promote the national cause and harmony.
The best way forward for the promotion of national harmony and integration is through good governance, indeed, the essence of all.
For the decades now, Pakistani state and society is suffering because of the bad governance and mismanagement at all levels.
The issues like timely provision of justice, education facilities and health facilities are most important to be addressed on priority.
Through good governance, these crucial aspects can be addressed to end the social unrest, prevailing in Pakistani society.
There is a strong need that ruling class should adopt the people’s centric approach, rather misusing the authority for their personal gains or to benefit their political parties.
A merit based system achieved through competence and justice would greatly help in overcoming the rising social polarization in Pakistani society.
Owing to many domestic and external conspiracies, there is a strong need for a harmonious and integrated society in Pakistan.
Apart from the ruling class, the media, academia, the intellectual class, civil society and the political and religious leaders must undertake their responsibilities towards national integration and harmony of Pakistani society.
Political and religious leadership of Pakistan must stop polarization of society for their personal and petty party gains.
Let’s create an environment where people have stakes over the state and state and its institutions give a good deliverance to people in all spheres.
All is possible once there is a peace, political and social stability, national integration and cohesion among the people of Pakistan.
The people at the helm of affairs must understand that, future of Pakistan rests on national integration and social harmony among all segments of the state.
Therefore, let’s promote those through a unified approach of; justice, equality, devotion, honesty, selflessness and self-reliance.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.