Being one nation | By Sardar Tee Shahid


Being one nation

Let’s commemorate Pakistan Day…! Let’s celebrate singular nationhood…! Let’s jubilate unity…! But, do Pakistanis live the voice of their forefathers of Pakistan Day? Do Pakistanis breathe like a nation? Do Pakistanis symbolise unity? A few weeks before every national day of significance until the day of celebration,

Pakistanism, nationhood, patriotism and unity surge to climax; the cycle resumes when other such day on calendar would approach.

The Pakistani nation inclusive of all public and private entities have been following this cycle since 1947.

The nationhood, patriotism and unity are concentrated in the slogans of unity, themed display banners and billboards, waving flags, media programmes, national songs, troops’ spectacles, greenery all around, lighting of buildings, and so on.

At the end of the day, every newscaster would speak the same line that the day was celebrated with national fervor and zeal. Next day, all vaporize…!

As Pakistan cavalcades 23rd March, let’s recall Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a State.

His vision circumscribed a democratic state, an untheocratic one, which must reflect “the great ideals of human progress, liberty, equality, fraternity and Islamic values of equality of manhood, fair play, brotherhood and social justice…galvanizing not only (as) the state but also as a unified and strong nation… founded on patriotism, and not provincialism, religious and sectarian diversions, or racism”.

Do some self-reflection to gauge how far Pakistanis succeeded in manifesting Quaid’s vision in true spirit.

If your true answer is in negative, it is time to chalk out the national path, which makes Pakistan a truly democratic state, a welfare state for its masses, a just and equal state – irrespective of colour, caste, ethnicity or creed.

As Pakistan cavalcades 23rd March, it is much disturbing that Pakistan stands 154th ranking on UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) among 189 countries – indicating where Pakistan is struggling still in basic amenities of life such as health, education, food, shelter, living, pollution and climate.

More discomforting is Pakistan’s grading being the 6th largest military of the world, 33rd largest land area (despite losing East Pakistan), 4th largest irrigated land, 1st in the sports and surgical industry, and the 5thlargest human capital.

When Pakistan’s HDI is compared with even other South Asian countries, Pakistan’s performance is not so respectful.

In the United Nations HDI 2020, India ranks 131st; Bangladesh 133rd; Sri Lanka 72nd; Maldives 95th; Nepal 142nd and Bhutan 129th.

Recently, World Happiness Report 2021 released by UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) ranks Pakistan 105th out of 149 countries.

Some in Pakistan are boasting that Pakistan did beat India in this standing as India stands at 139th position. It is not a correct scale to measure one’s progress.

As Pakistan cavalcades 23rd March, peaceful co-existence is to be lived truly. Doing and looking everything through Indian prism is an inapt approach.

It has led Pakistan to be Indian-centric, security-centric and zero-sum centric. World today has transformed from zero-sum to positive-sum game.

So, India winning does not mean Pakistan losing or Pakistan winning means defeat of India. Both can win. But this would happen only when Pakistan, and India too, think of future letting go past.

The same was echoed in address by military leadership in National Security Dialogue held in Islamabad recently. Look ahead, look towards future…!

As Pakistan cavalcades 23rd March, one sees rallies, sit-ins, belittling and cheap slogans, and undignified personal attacks amongst the political parties.

It makes states of Pakistan unhappy to see how political rivalries are being used to term fellow Pakistanis as traitors; and they are stamping and maltreating each other, blaming, disparaging each other.

Sad it is since 1947, Pakistanis are seemingly failing to galvanize themselves as a unified and strong nation, one nation.

Their inability to resolve their political issues is painful for every Pakistani, as Pakistani nation wants them to address their woes and take the nation ahead.

But it is not happening. Two wrongs do not make a right. Thus, a political party should not indulge in a debate of comparing its ills and wrongdoings with those of the other party, trying to prove to be a lesser evil rather a party.

Every political entity should keep ideals of Quaid-i-Azam, the Constitution of Pakistan and one’s own manifesto as guiding beacons.

Remember the code of conduct Quaid outlined for any government, “Representative governments and representative institutions… when people want to reduce them merely to channels of personal aggrandizement, they not only lose their value but earn bad name.

We must subject our actions to perpetual security and test them with the touchstone, not of personal or sectional interest, but of the good of the State.”

To opposition, he advised, “Grave political issues cannot be settled by the cult of the knife, or by gangsterism.

There are parties and parties, but the difference between them cannot be resolved by attacks on Party leaders. Nor can political views be altered by the threats of violence.”

As Pakistan cavalcades 23rd March, religious confrontations, sectarian detachments, ethnic competition, institutional confrontations, poor law enforcement and socio-economic disarray is on rise.

Passed more than 70 years, Pakistanis are experimenting and taking turns so as to which kind of nationalism is to be cultivated in Pakistan; what kind of nation Pakistanis are to become.

The answer lies in Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a state, and Jinnah’s vision of Pakistani nation.

Unity and harmony is needed besides all the tangible elements of national power, Pakistan has been bestowed with.

As Quaid always professed, “In Pakistan lies our deliverance, defence and honour…In our solidarity, unity and discipline lie the strength, power and sanction.” Commit to this fundamental principle – be it Government, Opposition.

Treat each other as fellow Pakistanis and debate politically within democratic and social norms, for nothing but the good of State.” Let’s commemorate Pakistan Day…but cultivate nationhood…nurture unity…!

—The writer, an international affairs analyst, regularly contributes on national security, foreign policy, international diplomacy and maritime affairs.

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