Imitation is the greatest form of flattery | By Dr Umair Ashraf 

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Imitation is the greatest form of flattery


IF you look at an enclosed glass container full of negatively charged ions, you will observe all these ions to be directionless, repelling each other and hitting the walls of the container.

All these ions in that container have no tendency for a chemical reaction and thus make no bonds.

Pakistani nation currently seems to be just like this glass container with all the sections of the society negatively charged and repelling one another, its government and political class directionless and its vision as a nation hitting the walls aimlessly.

Thus, the future looks dim for Pakistanis to have meaningful bonds and emerge as a nation and society for what its forefathers struggled for decades.

Pakistan, since its inception in 1947, has been in the doldrums. It has seen major wars, economic depressions, terrorism, military’s outsized role in politics and politics of absurdity by politicians.

The result is, an intolerant society, deeply polarized socially, religiously and politically, morally corrupt, lacking moderation in its political thought, a directionless nation with no vision and, above all, highly ignorant and timid.

The question arises here is, what it took to get us here at this point of intemperate desolation? Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness”.

We, as a nation, always imitated others in every aspect of our journey to establish ourselves as a great nation.

Pakistan has lacked originality in its vision since its independence. It always looked up to the ways of others in achieving its social, political and economic milestones.

Its indecisiveness as a nation put those at the helm of affairs who created nothing short of a glass container full of negatively charged ions.

The successive rulers and administrations could never provide with a vision of their own and the political leadership never tried to nurture unity, morality and ethics in a country with every growing segregated population.

For our political thought and values, we always imitated the West rather than ever deliberating on what suits our national concerns and needs.

And thus we stand today even below the mediocrity with worst political crisis. A society radically polarized politically with people frustrated enough to start a civil war.

We failed at achieving greatness rather we now exist in a quagmire of political contention and impoverishment.
For our culture, we imitated the West and the East both.

Thus, we have a class which vehemently supports English to be our sole protector.

Our TV and film industry is conveniently adopting the screenplays of Bollywood. Our weddings are becoming more westernized or Indian.

Our clothing now lacks the true spirit of Pakistani culture and its geographical and historical connections. Our eateries and dining tables lack originality of our land both in its aura and taste.

For religion, we never tried to establish Islam in its true essence and beliefs. We incorporated so much into Islam as religion that it lost its true sense and thus the nation now oscillates between the extreme ends of religious radicalization.

We are so religiously segregated that the world considers Pakistan as one of the most religiously intolerant country.

We imitated and nourished Jihadist thought process which resulted in terrorism rising so rapidly in the region. We imitated other religions paving way for so many innovations in Islam.

For our social values, our society could never unite on its own core social and moral values. We imitated the West on one end for modernism and to religious fanaticism on uncompromising social values for orthodoxy on the other end.

The result is Pakistan as a pendulum hanging between extreme rightists and leftists in the country.

We are neither modern nor extremist, we are neither collectively progressive neither regressive. In short, we have no face as a nation and society. We imitated the West for our constitutionalism and law making.

We still function on the laws which British left behind for us. And today we see the worst constitutional and law and order crisis in Pakistan.

We imitated the West in economic affairs of the country too. We never tried to devise an economic plan; keeping in view our interests and needs instead we looked up to the West and international organizations to provide us for.

The result is we could never strengthen ourselves economically and financially and have been in constant economic perils looming over our heads.

In short, Pakistan overwhelmingly followed what Oscar Wilde said to achieve greatness but this is not how nations achieve it.

Those nations which lack inventiveness, confidence and originality in their functionalities always fall behind.

They never even become a part of the race in its first place. Pakistani nation is one such example of desperation.

It imitated great powers to flatter them to gain support and conformity but it still is a glass container of negatively charged ions at its breaking point.

It takes me to the conclusion that the original quote of Wilde be amended to “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery that mediocrity pays to obscurity.” Because I have seen my nation capitulated to this notion.

And so far we have paid a heavy price for this flattery as we abandoned our true ideology.

—The writer is a medical professional and writes for different newspapers.