Becoming one nation
PAKISTAN, at first, needs to be ONE nation. After Pakistani people become one nation, most problems and issues will be solved, and happiness will be commonly available. The methodologies to deal with these would be successful only after this is achieved. Right now, the people at the helm of the affairs have shown little regret for their inability to come up with measures to develop Pakistanis into one nation. People constantly realize the loss of their socio-political rights. This incapability is creating not only socio-political but also financial issues in Pakistan. The nation is feeling divided into multiple groups and ethnicities, which are very seldom in love with each other.
The absence of love and fraternity with each group, community and caste creates tangibly suspicion and doubts about each other. Pakistan is suffering from its socio-political turmoil only because of the rudderlessness in attachment attitude and no national imagery is developed other than releasing a few songs. The very reason holds good for multiple opinions and regionalism plus linguistic divide. A nation without a uniform direction is always in trouble because it cannot achieve its national targets. This needs to be addressed on a war footing and without delay to save the future of the posterity.
The people, government and business community are all living a life of uncertainty and finding no way out of it. The common man suffers from high inflation and rising prices and cannot maintain his family. It has become almost impossible for the common man to provide his children with education and good life. The people who can control and manage this situation are engrossed in saving their socio-political situation, and their attention is diverted from their actual responsibilities. Consequently, only personalities get empowered and the state and its institutions weaken.
The essential outcome of such a situation is the individualization of the policies, not state-centered. Many controllable variables are let loose and so ultimately become unmanageable. For example, population growth in Pakistan has not been paid any heed to, and consequently, it has become growingly monstrous, which is extremely difficult to manage. The same happens with the division of resources and their ownership. The country constantly remains under threat of conspiracies and intrigues, and lack of ownership occasionally lends them success. The same happens with national policies and plans.
Three areas need to be radically reformed for this purpose. Firstly, the syllabi will be molded into a national shape rather than a regional one. Even if the regional themes are carried out, national ones must be predominant. While reforming syllabi, ground realities must be incorporated by the ones who love the State and not by a few chosen and hand-picked people. Besides these radical reforms, all Pakistanis must study ONE syllabus from primary to secondary. The language issue must be settled once and for all by declaring that the English language cannot be done away with. So, every Pakistani must learn three languages: regional, national and international. This would help provide an educational direction for the upcoming generations.
The second area is our literature. The same regional, national and international approach should be adopted in its production, analysis and research. At least for students, scholars and academicians, reading and analyzing literature must be made compulsory. All types of exams in the country must include questions about Pakistani national and regional literature in all languages. The national literature must be popularized through other means as well. For example, local, regional and national authors must be rewarded for their original production and contributions. This can help promote national imaginary, facilitating national bonding of the people. Department of comparative literature can also be established at the university level without colonial biases, thus creating a proper space for the national imaginary. Thirdly, another best way is to strengthen and promote national institutions. People must be made aware of these institutions’ mandate, power, and responsibilities. People in all regions of Pakistan must know that these institutions are created with consensus, are meant to promote national patriotic agenda and are all working in one direction to provide socio-cultural development to Pakistani people. The funding must be provided to enhance Pakistan’s softer yet progressive image through digital and social media. Universities and colleges must be linked with this media so that national awareness can be spread among the youth and are also provided platforms for their right to speech. And above all, the concept of positive pride among our people must be encouraged. They must be confident that they are one of the best people in the world and strive to achieve this end every moment. It should never be, however, a negative pride. It should be for a healthy competition with the other nations. All this needs to be jump-started and then continuously maintained until we begin thinking about being one people striving toward one goal. Pakistan is our country and we are Pakistani people.
—The writer is a Professor of English at Emerson University, Multan, and has a vast international exposure.