Fierce nationalism is the hallmark of all great powers. A sense of unity that holds individuals with conflicting interests together is nationalism, a belief in a higher ideal a grand reality and something better than petty self interest. A nation which prides itself in being a melting pot of civilisation and so multicultural relied on nationalist slogans and emblems in time of crisis.
The present wave of unrest that engulfs our country owes its origin to the waning nationalist feelings. It’s not that periphery has lost hope in the centre; it’s just that we have not been persuasive enough of our good intentions. Opportunists are known for exploiting such occasions for their own self interest. Individuals who provoke the masses for subversive action are honest to no one; not even their comrades and followers and their sway is nothing but temporary. Pakistan will survive and emerge from this crisis as a more progressive and vibrant Pakistan, by weeding out the poisonous herbs. But it can only happen by reinforcing the nationalist creed which served as a foundation for our country.
Our forefathers thought of having a separate country and woke the dormant population out of slumber into action. It was solely for nationalists urging that our beloved Pakistan, "a laboratory for the practice of Islam", came into being. Stanley Wolpert writes in "Shameful Flight" of British intensions of having India as an undivided whole. A close reading of Cripps mission in 1942 aptly demonstrates their intensions. It was only for the sheer nationalism and unrelenting efforts of Quaid that Muslims were able to carve a niche for themselves and separate identity.
Mammoth is the responsibility of men in khakhi for once again the nation’s survival is at stake and a deft handling of the situation will ensure a better future. A surgeon intends no harm but cancerous cells have to be removed to ensure the well being of the body as a whole. An important step would be to encourage dialogue between the civilian set up and the mil establishment. To reassure everyone that we are not usurpers rather the peacemakers, decentralisation and devolution of power accompanied by radical reforms and welfare projects of civic nature would encourage the population of the afflicted areas to co-operate and re-ignite their nationalist feelings.
Most important of all, strengthen the belief that collective survival depends on willing participation of the constituents and that ultimately the fruit of progress will trickle down and change the life of downtrodden. Karen Armstrong writes in "The Battle for God" that the religious fundamentalism is a reaction to the modernisation and globalisation. When people are afraid that their long cherished mode of conduct is threatened by an alien lifestyle with which they cannot identify, they are bound to react in an irrational manner. Thus to root out this evil that plagues our society a more equal distribution of wealth and dissemination of benefits that modernism procures will help a great deal. At the same time the unchecked rise of corporate power and its detrimental effect on our culture and values is to be closely monitored and reigned.
Another important remedial measure can be discovering and celebrating new national heroes. Individuals who have done well in their respective departments but have not had their share of limelight. And to forge a strong sense of nationhood among the people, the ordinary man in the street must have a sense of security, of belongingness of being part of a bigger whole, as being imbued with as much worth and import as anyone else, of having certain inalienable rights that would be protected and ensured by a strong benevolent governments. Only with this fundamental change can we emerge as a stronger whole and a better nation.