“That stronghold is my nation not Pakistan” – by Bibrak Chandio

For thousands of years, people of western South Asia (now Pakistan) have been living with an enemy implanted in their genes which is perhaps the main hurdle in the path towards prosperity. One can feel the tramp of enemy marching when one starts advocating for equal rights for all citizens of the state of Pakistan. The enemy is not a force which could be defeated by swords, but the enemy is a state of utter confusion about interests – the lack of nationhood.

It is with no doubt true that many find their common parentage and pride in the mob of Mohammad Bin Qasim, while there are others standing on the other bank of the river sympathetic with son of the Chach of Alor, Raja Dahir Sen. There are others who have been sidelined from the mainstream, like Balochs who feel indifferent from the two nation theory, some Pakhtuns also share the same idea and many in Punjab are apparently still with the state sponsored orientation of Pakistan which is a non-pluralist, monolithic version, perhaps for authoritarian and economic expediencies.

For Pakistanis, nationality is entirely a different phenomenon based on a geographic criterion, whereby they drive their national identity from the place which is a stronghold of their particular sect or ethnicity. Some regard President of Tehran theirs rather than the President of Islamabad, even though both subscribe to the same sect. Some would be spiritually more obedient to the kings of Saudi Arabia than to their Prime Ministers. Some still remember the Kurdistan or UP.

If we put it in historical context this phenomenon doesn’t seem to be new; the Chachnama reports that, perhaps the very first convert to Islam in Debal who was named Maulana Islami was sent with a Syrian noble, to deliver a message to Dahir. When the two entered Dahir’s court the Syrian bowed low to salute, but the new Muslim refused to bow or to salute. Dahir recognised him and asked him why he was not observing the court etiquette, and the latter said that with his change of religion his loyalty now was to “the king of Islam”. Change of religion had resulted in change of nationality!

This may be right at that time, but the dilemma of our time is that Pakistanis still live in early medieval age; minorities in Pakistan are considered as spoils of war (equivalent to Maal-e-Ghaneemat), non-martial and hypocrite enemies and those who stand by them are considered serving their vested interests, like Salman Tasser and Shabaz Bhatti. Pakistanis must realize the fact that majority of population was born in Pakistan, raised in Pakistan, no one was conquered.

The saddest part is that Pakistanis have always engaged in trying to create brotherly relations with people of other countries, like China and Turkey, but have failed to bring harmony, peace and mutual understanding amongst provinces. For example a Sindhi will feel easy to connect with Indians from Bhubaneswar, UP, West Punjab but not with his compatriots from East Punjab. Likewise for a Punjabi connecting with Balochs is a later story, traveling to Baluchistan would be a nightmare if his National Identity Card number starts with “3” and this is what Pakistanis as a nation should be worried about!

If a Gujjar kills a Jat or a Chandio kills an Abro, thousands will get themselves armed as if they were to protect their national interests, and from this will erupt a tribal feud leaving a dark mark on generations to come. Now compare this with killing of the same but now by a CIA operative or a drone or a suicide bomber.

To conclude, Pakistanis have organized themselves into groups which have conflicting and confusing interests. Prosperity for one group is disaster for the other. If the gap is not bridged they would keep fighting this enemy unknowing that they are cutting the ground from under their own feet. We have to become Pakistanis and believe in it as a nation. There are no two views against it.



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