Original Articles

The dilemma of identity – by Suleman Akhtar

The solution lies within our rich civilization itself. Solution lies in revival of that beautiful culture of peace and harmony marked with the distinctive diversities. Solution lies in Indian version of Islam that has served people irrespective of their common beliefs. Solution lies in folk tale of Waris Shah’s Heer. Solution lies in Bhulleh shah’s Kafi. Solution lies in Shah Jo Risalo of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. Solution lies in Sindhi, Siraiki, Balochi, Pashto and Punjabi. Solution lies in problem itself.

“When I hear of a terrorist plot, I can count back from 10, and before I get to zero, someone will bring up the P word.”

This statement was quoted by Time’s Bobby Ghosh accredited to some top US counterterrorism official with further unneeded elaboration “That’s P for Pakistan”.

Having known that most of the terrorist plots executed on different soils of planet earth, anyhow,  always trace back to this land of the pure, one may expectedly bent on seeking the answers of some pertinent questions. Why does the Pakistani society churn out highest proportion of the terrorists who are deliberately deteriorating World’s peace? There are other Islamic theocracies in region i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran but why the Pakistani soil is suspected as safest heaven on earth for terrorist personals/outfits? In spite of $18bn aid from US between 2001-2010 why is that Pak-Army is still reluctant to completely dismantle and do away with those militants wreaking havoc all over their own country?

Many unwarranted ways are readily available to ditch these pernicious questions. One, for instance, may argue that this entire disastrous situation is direct result of American Jihad policy of 80’s against communist Russia when Jihadis were pawned to get rid of biggest ideological as well as strategic threat of that time. True, I would agree to some extent, but what obstacles do we still find in effectively countering these Frankenstein monsters when the cold war is over long ago? What is the vindication for that fanatical demeanor which has become the hallmark of our society? Why the various constituents of whole societal panorama, even the affluent ones, are hell-bent on mongering hatred sentiments against followers of other religious creeds?

As a matter of fact, the syndrome plaguing us is not extrinsic at all as fallaciously asserted by pseudo-nationalists, but it’s intrinsic rather existential in its very nature. The dilemma of identity-having ramifications from most basic human values to bulk national identity- roots in the contentious relation of religion with the notion of national identity as well as dissension over the perceived meaning of Islam itself. A slowly injected venom of fabricated religious identity to arteries of society has turned out to be the toxic for religion and country. Religious minorities [read: Christians and Hindus] along with minority sects i.e. Shias and Ahmedis, are not alone in getting afflicted by the malady but the majority comprises of Sunni school of thought also joins their hands in bearing the brunt of this falsified national identity which is the end result of deliberate erosion of traditional traits belong to this part of earth.

Whilst taking into account the identity issue the best personification of this notion can be analyzed in youth of that kin. Youth of any country correctly represents synthesis of all the idiosyncrasies related to idea of national identity. One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to evaluate the propensity of Pakistani youth towards radicalism comprising salient ideas of: India and US hatred, antagonism to secular state, resentment over political exercise in country, apathetic attitude towards challenges facing country and differentiation of Taliban in good and bad ones. This, however, is not a marvel to find our youth in this deep abyss of despondence which ultimately paves the path for intolerant and fanatical behaviors. Nonexistence of concrete national identity, which becomes more imperative when they tend to connect with the other rich and prosperous cultures from around the world, leaves no other option except embracing that fabricated identity which is fallacious to the core.  As highly patronized by state policy makers, this socio-religious identity is most likely to fill the void created by the national identity. This fictitious self-recognition, being self-contradictory, originates the conflict with other societies and cultures with irrational approach of “we vs. them”.

As, for instance, some days back I came across a video entitled “Gog&Magog, 2012 and significance of Pakistan”. That was shared by one of my highly-educated friend with caption “Very Inspirational! Maulana in this video is a great Pakistani lover but remember he is not Pakistani” —‘Maulana’ in that video was Imran Nazar Hossain ranting his anti-Semitic views whilst deliberately interlacing with Pakistani nukes. He is a former Principal of the Aleemiyah Institute of Islamic Studies in Karachi, Pakistan, Director of Research of the World Muslim Congress in Karachi, Pakistan. The same World Muslim Congress that was founded in 1949 in Karachi as World’s first transnational Islami organization. The congress traces its roots to a congress hosted in Mecca in 1926 by Ibn-e-Saud, shortly after his occupation of Mecca and Medina. The Congress has played a crucial role in building up the feeling of Muslim victimization that has subsequently fed the global Islamist movement— what startled me the most was ‘number of views’ of that particular video exceeding 94 thousand. Given statistics reveal that biggest source of this hate speech are; a suspicious blog named “Pakalertpress” as well as “Facebook”, which usually are accessed by young generation. Above given caption is epitome of Iqbal’s doctrine of identity- that in his own words “We are Muslims, the whole world is our homeland” – highly maneuvered to give some breaths the absurd notion of “Muslim Identity”.

The Identity that extracts its endorsement from carefully fabricated sense of animosity against neighboring state [Read: India]. Eliminate this “India hatred” fixing from the edifice of Pakistani Identity and whole construction will demolish instantly. This paramount constituent that contrive the state sponsored dogma of identity traces its roots to struggle for independence from British rule. To argue if Jinnah aimed to theocracy or secularism is absurd at this hour of time when much water has flowed under the bridge. Country that was founded by provoking and maneuvering religious sentiments of a group of people who shared same religious beliefs, was more likely to fall prey to religious oligarchy. Demands to “do-more” to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure cannot be met until we resolve issue of our identity, that we still are proud to be India-centric, that we still claim our Western neighboring country as our strategic-depth, that we still differentiate Frankenstein monsters as good and bad Taliban, that we still consider our nukes as Islamic bomb, that we still are sole torch bearer of Islam in whole world.

So, where does the solution lie? At this riotous juncture of our history we, as a country at brink of apocalypse, must reconsider our stakes to survive. Keeping in view the pluralistic traits of inhabitants of this region as well as the distinctive history of this land the idea of implanting Western originated alien conceptions would lead us nowhere but further catastrophe. The liberals (?) who emphasize on dissolution of pluralistic as well as religious traits live in a world completely detach from the ground realities of this region. The solution lies within our rich civilization itself. Solution lies in revival of that beautiful culture of peace and harmony marked with the distinctive diversities. Solution lies in Indian version of Islam that has served people irrespective of their common beliefs. Solution lies in folk tale of Waris Shah’s Heer. Solution lies in Bhulleh shah’s Kafi. Solution lies in Shah Jo Risalo of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. Solution lies in Sindhi, Siraiki, Balochi, Pashto and Punjabi. Solution lies in problem itself.

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