IRSHAD SALIM: In mid March, an Islamabad-based Think Tank called Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies launched a nationwide campaign themed “Nationalism & Pakistaniat”. The PICSS flyer said “through seminars, conferences, roundtables, interactive sessions and other tools of advocacy it seeks to help the Pakistani youth in comprehending the true concept of ‘Pakistaniat’ with a view to protect them from disillusioned ideas and aspirations, propagated by forces of darkness and destruction.”
The organization in my opinion pre-assumes that ‘Pakistaniat’ already exists–that it’s well-defined and has percolated down the rest of the society like an elixir and needs to be sprinkled among the dysfunctional youth now which so happens to comprise almost 63 percent of the population since over a decade– a ticking time bomb or a massive dividend depending on how well they have been or can be harnessed holistically. The esteemed organization also presupposes that nationalism and Pakistaniat are either mutually inclusive or exclusive–it doesn’t matter to me though, and that all it may take is to unleash it on the youth with atoms of thought-provoking dialogues, discourses, speeches, etc. and the rest will happen sooner or later.
That may not happen so fast I fear, as the society we exist now, is like a mosaic and there are no discerning signs our thought-leaders yearn to make it a melting pot– key essential to developing group think over the years beginning from early childhood. In that, all stakeholders have a role to play actively and passively– and that’s amiss. No rocket scientist can come up with a reset button which will boot up the system with results overnight for all to witness. Unlike a battle which can be won in 3 days by kinetic forces, to bring sustainable peace or civility albeit civic sense, etc. it takes years of collective tolerance, coaching, mentoring, leading by examples by elders who have resolved to remain persevering with promise to supplement their teachings through equitable distribution of societal fruits among followers and adherants of the milieu– and non-followers subject to rule of law and its dispensations.
We are carrying wounds. Once we stop touching them, they’ll heal if an enabling environment is created and made to sustain. The National Action Plan (NAP) was supposed to be a holistic document– it was however considered nonchalantly by many and akin to the infamous “degree is degree, whether genuine or fake” attitude. We have lost several years and many still don’t comprehend that the youth– our future politicians, intellectuals and thought-leaders need to be enabled, recalibrated, and encouraged to build character, have courage, develop capability and capacity.
In the simplest form, I consider Pakistaniat to be all things good, whether in hearing or saying or singing or discussing, etc.etc.. If we consider it as deep akin to complex philosophy of life and lifestyle embedded in Ghalib’s or Bulle Shah’s poetry, we would render it a non-starter. The youth today is binary, in touch with their counterparts globally daily, have no time to introspect nor think beyond quick results. In such a situation, we ought to find simple, sweet, pulsating ideas, thoughts, buzzwords, narratives, and enable the youth to make individually and resultantly collectively sense out of them neighborhood to neighborhood.
To the best of my knowledge and information, the initiative of such a change (I call it chaos order) exists– but needs mass facilitation and not poetic dispensations in drawing rooms and or talk shows countrywide. Social media is a now a well-tested tool which can be more effective and powerful than solutions we seek which belong to the past and then expect problems of the present and the future to be resolved by using them.
Back in June 2009, I briefly wrote on chaos order and Pakistaniat. Several years earlier to that, I had opined that solutions to some of our most obnoxious problems lay hidden in a holistic approach which is time-borne and generational.
“Within our damaged psychology, mind, body and bodypolitik, in our stem-cells, veins, blood, bones, flesh et all, there still remains our good DNAs, fresh stem-cells, good blood, living cells, working veins and active neurons that can be beaded together like a string of pearls and then harnessed, multiplied, worn, exhibited, touted, demonstrated, so we – the nation – as a whole can rise, elevate its self-esteem and create a trait, super goal, a super value- call it Pakistaniat – just as Americans say: It is “un-American” OR It is “American”.
All things good out there are American! American has been created as an adjective. For example loving anmals is American. Loving life is too. Temper management is American too. Not touching each other is American too. Enjoying life is American too. Take all values – they are all American. Why not part of Pakistaniat? Why can’t Pakistaniat become an adjective? It is simple but powerful. Stand on it and we may be able to move the world.
This is that strategic depth that we really need – not just a friendly Afghanistan on our Western border as our strategic depth. That is horizontal and only just one plane in the holistic dimension of existentialism.
Vertically, even if it is only by the word of our mouth, by single murmurs if necessary, we need to create out there a mammoth reverberation of a set of those values which are based on simple common sense and evoke ownership of the good parts and elements of our traditions, customs, and history.
We need to reclaim ownership of our two histories: Cultural and Religious. Combination of both by permutation, extrapolation and interpolation will create Pakistaniat.
This will automatically evolve into a powerful, a peaceful but a strong proud nation where religion as an issue or for that matter all other issues will only be a part of the whole called Pakistaniat and not Pakistaniat itself.” (Oscar Tango: Irshad Salim’s Blog)
From some or all of the above, Pakistaniat (super value) could become part of our day-to-day narrative so that we can at least discern what’s good and bad for us individually and collectively. That then will unleash nationalism albeit patriotism in the country– many are fearful if that so happens, as it’s more powerful with unpredictable outcomes, than having nukes as a deterrent whose predictability and control can be figured out.