Seventy-four years have passed since the establishment of Pakistan, but the need for realising the value of unity and integration is still there. As people celebrate national eves with great fanfare but failed to create the sense of national integration among them which is huge obstacle in growth of Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was always conscious of the need for integration among Pakistanis before and after independence. As he was the advocator of National integration and its evidence is his Civic Address presented by Quetta Municipality on June 15, 1948, “We are now all Pakistanis — not Balochis, Pathans, Sindhis, Bengalis, Punjabis and so on — and as Pakistanis we must feel, behave and act, and we should be proud to be known as Pakistanis and nothing else’. He was well aware of the fact that it is arduous to dismember a nation where the national unity exists.
The term National integration is the awareness of a common identity among the citizens of a country, this means that although we belong to different castes, religions and speak different languages, we recognize the fact that we are all one. It is not just a national feeling, but the spirit which brings people of all dialects and beliefs together in a similar endeavour. This kind of integration is very important in the building of a strong and prosperous nation.
Historically, Pakistan started its life in an extremely challenging scenario demanding utmost struggle for strategic alignment and survival. The task of nation building remained relegated and alter on, proved to be very difficult process due to evolving circumstances. Early deaths of the central leadership, financial and administrative difficulties in the 1950s, political instability (power hungry elite) and crises, Indian aggressions of 1948 and 1965 and the dismemberment of the country in 1971; complicated the national integration process, manifold and generated several issues, which later on pushed the nation into identity crises. sub-nationalist tendencies sponsored by foreign powers, socio-economic disparities, impact of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and revolution in Iran were some of the factors which kept the governments distracted from focusing on this core issue.
Some important reasons of the failure of the national integration in Pakistan are, Crisis of leadership, Language, economic disparities, provincial biasness, political instability and governance issues, feudalism and existence of jirga system, sectarianism and extremism, minority issues and Education.
The crises of leadership in Pakistan was the major hurdle in the way of creating unity among the people of the nation. After the death of Quaid-e-Azam there was hardly any leader upon whom the nation could be united. Every leader prefers his personal interest rather than national interest. They built up economic assets on illegal means. Thus, they exploited the national purse on the coast of national interest and promoted personal interests. Therefore, national integration remained weak and fragile.
Language crises have paved the way for disunity among the nation. Pakistani is a plural society. There are living many linguistic groups which is problem. Pakistan lost its eastern wing owing to many problems of which the language problem was one of the important problems. In today’s Pakistan the difference of language is still a problem in the way of national integration of state. Despite the declaration of Urdu as a national language, the people, belonging to all the provinces, are engaged in a language conflict (language inferior and superior complexity). The elites often play this card for their personal gains.
The economic disparities are not far behind in affecting the process of national integration in Pakistan. The system of Pakistan has been structured such that the gulf between poor and rich become widen with every passing day. Rich become richer and the poor become poorer and poorer. Imbalanced provision of resources, uneven infrastructural and industrial developments and lack of employment opportunities. All this resulted in disparity of economic well-being of people and the created space was exploited by sub-nationalists sponsored by their foreign abettors. It is mainly because, wealth in the hands of few paves the way for their constant power and ensures the continuity of this gap. Thus, the economic inequalities led towards the weakness of the national integration.
Provincial biases are posing a threat to the basic existence of the country. It leads towards the destabilization of the state and shaking the basis of national integration of the country. The smaller provinces have developed the sense of deprivation. They think that they have been deprived of their just share in the national exchequer and of their just royalty which developed animosities among the provinces. The water dispute existed among the provinces along with having objections on the construction of Kala Bagh dam which has detracted the unity of the country. Likewise, the dispute over NFC (National Finance Commission) award as they don’t agree on the formula in which the resources are to be divided on the basis of population.
The sense of regionalism by lack of socio-economic justice divided the entire nation into small and paltry classes. It has created fractions, groups, sects working for their vested interests. There is a trend of promoting personal interest, class interest, group interest and faction and regional interest instead national interests. Almost all parties are talking about Sindhis, Balochis, Pukhtoons, and Punjabis and other small groups. There is no talk about Pakistan. This politics of regionalism has widened the gulf between different sections of the society. It has shaken the basis of national integration of Pakistan.
Political stability is the most important prerequisite for strengthening the national integration. Unfortunately, Pakistan is lacking this requirement since very long. The political instability has widened the gulf between the ruling class and the ruled class. It has distorted the picture of Pakistan and made it retrogressive in all spheres. Political instability has posed a big threat to national unity and integrity. Lack of unity and integration has pushed behind the objectives for which Pakistan was created. It has also rhythm of national progress. As a result, the nation has become hallow from within in terms of national integration. While the delayed justice, inefficient institutions, rampant corruption and lack of accountability are some of the major contributory factors of lack of good governance.
Existence of jirga system and feudalism are factors affecting the unity among Pakistani nation. Almost all the world countries got rid of feudalism and jirga system but Pakistan is still stuck in it that cause the inequality and a menace to socio-economic development. It not only keeps people uneducated and unaware of world outside of the tribe due to their closed mind-set but also advocates the culture of honour-killing. Almost half of the assemblies either it be provincial of National are filled with these people.
The issue of sectarianism and extremism is not new but has been going on since number of centuries. In Pakistan, the post Afghan jihad worsened the issue and paved the way for external powers to use it as a tool to exploit Pakistan. Religion itself is not dogmatic and anti-innovation, however, discerning interpretations and extremist tendencies in individual behavior sharpened due to the West’s attempt to brand Islam and post 9/11 interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Subsequent developments resulted in promoting extremism, militancy, terrorism and hatred within Pakistan further complicating the integration process.
The minority issues are also paving the way for disunity among nation. Pakistan is a safe haven for minorities and they are living in their motherland since decades, undoubtedly. But the problem lies here is extremist mindset of masses against them. As they (especially Hindus) are often linked with India and its fascist Modi government’s illicit and brutal acts to its Muslim Minority. What we have to understand here is that, the whole nation, including minority and majority, is standing against the fascist Modi regime and its brutal acts against Indian and Kashmiri Muslims. Hindutva and Hinduism (Sanatan dharma) both are different in nature in every aspect. The second thing is lack of trust in minority by not giving them top slots or in other words, not given the opportunity to do something for their motherland. The third thing is bias selection of parliamentarians from minority by political parties. As they are unable to even talk in Parliament or resolve the issues of minority.
The last factor is education. The major issue here is not following the single curriculum in academic sphere. The private institution mafia is exploiting the government educational institutions which is causing disparity among masses.
The solutions can be media and proper training of academia including teachers. With the help of media, we came to know about the happenings around the world. It unveils the truth and injustice done to people along with rules over the mind of masses. It educates the people and moulds their opinion, making and toppling the governments makes a hero a villain and a villain a hero. It changes the life style, thinking, culture and tradition of a society. Secondly, the training of teachers to create national integration rather to fill the minds of students with any of aforementioned problems can be the best option. It will help building the sense of national integration in upcoming generations.
We must remember that patriotism is not limited to raising the Pakistani flag on significant occasions like March 23 or August 14, but a promise for the motherland to burn the midnight oil to make it a developed nation. This is only possible through national integration which later makes our national interests secure. We must look to make our beloved Pakistan a great nation of the globe in every aspect; political, economic and socio-cultural.