REINVIGORATING THE NARRATIVE TO DEFEND PAKISTAN | BY Zia Malik

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REINVIGORATING THE NARRATIVE TO DEFEND PAKISTAN

Defense Day is reminiscence in Pakistanabout inspiring tales of our defenders thwarting evil Indian designs in Lahore and Sialkot Sectors.

As the discussions go around exploring ways and means to defend the country against complex contemporary challenges, we are reminded of transcending nature of threat with significant influence on our national security paradigm.

Understandably, factors like intense political polarization, beleaguered economy, perineal Indian threat and global power contestation in the region are identified as key factors ceding space for hostile forces to pursue their nefarious agenda against Pakistan.

Resultantly, these growing domestic fissures and external challenges increase Pakistan’s vulnerabilities as it continues to endure hostile narratives and propaganda unleashed by its vibrant adversaries both inside and outside the country.

Given information overhung resounding unison employment of counter narratives,peculiarities of Pakistan’s security landscape demands reinvigoration of national narrative to help defend its ideological and geographical boundaries.

Academically, scholars of international relations are in agreement to relate narrative with deliberate and well-crafted themes and ideas to systematically represent aparticular ideology. Narratives, as they believe, help projecting our identities, priorities, national goals and objectives.

At the same time, these also helps promoting ouridentity as a state and reflect the social character of society.Moreover, the narrative also reinforces shared values and beliefs within our society which pronounce linkages between state’s policies and strategies.

Casting an eye through global political discourse, we appreciate that successive governments – from Greek era to west-backed capitalist countries –  have prevailed at global stage by making the best from these narratives.

Narratives based on politico-ideological basis which werepropagated during Cold War era and post 9/11 have actually polarized the world. However, since its independence, Pakistan has struggled to develop and disseminate a singular narrative suiting the very fabric of its state.

Debate on institutional framework for narrative development in Pakistan brings to fore the country’s inability to translate its peculiar ideology, culture, geography and foreign policy, into a wholesome national narrative.

Adapting to complex domestic, regional and global situations, Pakistan has always found it difficult to nurture an indigenous narratives projecting its actual interests. The resultant unresponsive in existing narrative stems from multiple reasons like lack on institutional capacity, shortsightedness, flawed regional approach and inability to map future trends on modern narratology.

Pakistan continues to face significant challenges as it redefines its priorities adopting realism in states policy – biggest dilemma being incapability to project its actual strengths when seen through the geostrategic prism.

Preceding context highlights intrinsic weaknesses in Pakistan’s narratology which lacks pragmatism, persistence and effective communication.

Major issues which bewilder this confusion include misperception on national identity, weak democratic system and governance, uniform education system and a tattered economy.

Similarly, ambiguity on foreign policy objectives, demographic outlook, civil-military relations and law & order situation are some of the major issues meriting rewriting of national narrative.

Based on a geo-economic premise, Pakistan can develop some new narratives, at the heart of these lies a proactive and unapologetic outlook. First of all, the country needs to show Islam as progressive force across it social fabric, representing core Islamic values as part its state structure.National cohesion demands that ideological consciousness must be developed at gross-root academic level to inculcate Pakistaniat in the society.

Second, effective narrative to project strong democratic culture can better prevail through devolution of maximum powers down to district level, promoting meritocracy and ensuring political stability.

Third, ‘English-Urdu apartheid’ demand addressing deficiencies across public, private and Madrassah educational system. Single National Curriculum is a step in right direction to ensure uniformity of education. Broad based consensus on education reforms in necessary to provide equal standards to all children irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.

Forth, sustainable economic development is a prerequisite for creating an enabling environment for wide acceptance of all narratives.

The country requires to embrace structural reforms, broadening tax base and conducive business environment to attract foreign direct investment/ foreign remittances. Fifth: navigating foreign policy headwinds in today’s geo-strategic environment underscore that national objectives be fielded through an apt employment of strategic communication.

This also necessitates that country’s diplomatic manevourextends its outreach across global diplomatic community. Attractive narratives on Pakistan’s exclusive features may be highlighted including its unique location in the region, diverse tourism opportunists, endowment of natural resource potential and youth budge.

Considering discussion based on forgoing arguments, it can be concluded that the roadmap for crafting the new narrative for Pakistan demands a systematic and a sustainable approach.

Avoiding a whack-a-moleapproach, the new narrative should actually purport our national character and represent a progressive society with a diverse culture.

Truly, a multipronged cohesive approach can help Pakistan to defend itself against all the hostile narratives.

 

The writer is an MS Scholar pursuing his studies at SZABIST, Islamabad. He can be reached at [email protected]

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