Nationalism – a double-edged sword

Nationalism in a country is considered a double-edged blade. It can unite or it can abolish a country and its roots. In an underdeveloped country like Pakistan, why is nationalism, which should have been strengthened by now, still considered a myth and not a certainty?

Countries that are successfully practising nationalism are France, Russia, Poland, Italy etc. Nationalism can consist of different neglected factors like tradition, language, religion, common economic interest, conflict and war. When Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent state, it was considered a unique country because of its diverse cultural, religious and geographical characteristics. It was the only country that had 1000 miles in between and the only thing that acted as a bond was religion. Pakistan has already faced a separation on the basis of cultural nationalism.

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The question arises: what can be the basis of nationalism in Pakistan and why has it been opposed by some groups? There are three basic issues that are neglected when we talk about nationalism in our country. The most important of them all is our language. Pakistan is deep into its language controversy and it is still continuing today after the separation in 1971. Pakistan is perhaps the only country where the national language (Urdu) is the mother tongue of merely 10 % of the people of Pakistan. In early July of 2014, I remember that ANP (Awami National Party) suggested amendments that the word “National Language” should be substituted by the word “National Languages”.

Pakistani nationalism cannot be created or established by celebrating Independence Day or by symbolic measures but it requires commitment, will and determination at the grassroots level including our language, which we all are proud of.

HASAN YASEEN MIRZA

Islamabad

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