Myth of Different Nations in Pakistan

  0 comments   |     by Khalid Hussain Zia

All Pakistanis descend from the Aryan stock except for two small Groups - Brahvis and Mekranis – and the life line of all provinces is River Indus. There are very few countries in the world with more racial and religious homogeneity than Pakistan. Yet, because of subversive influences a perception exists that ours in a country of many nations. A small group of secessionists are being given hype, a wide coverage, by out pseudo intellectuals and vested interest media, jeopardizing the national security of Pakistan Sailor scholar K. H. Zia debunks the propaganda.

Like so many other notions based on questionable motives, parochial politicians in Pakistan from time to time claim nationhood based on provincial boundaries but not as Pakistanis as such. The provinces were created by the British for administrative convenience. NWFP was traditionally a part of Punjab until the turn of the last century. The Pathans are a proud people, intensely tribal in nature and very far from becoming a separate unified nation. Sind did not become a separate province until 1935, when it was detached from the Bombay Presidency.

The father of Sindhi nationalism G. M. Syed, as the name implies has to be the descendant of immigrants and could not claim to be pure ethnic Sindhi in the strict sense. It may come as a shock to some but well-known and proud Sindhis like the Shar, Magassi, Kulachi, Dodai, Chandio, Kaisarani, Jaskani, Gurchani, Shambani, Leghari, Bhutto, Nutkani, Khoso, Mahr, Gopang, Khoro, Quraishi, Punwar, Buladhi, Hasani, Lund, Lashari, Korai, Bhatti, Mirrani, Parihar, Almani, Umarani, Gabol, Jakhrani, Rind, Pitafi, Talpur, Jatoi, Bozdar, Mazari, Bijarani, to name a few originated from Punjab and their parent tribes can still be found there (please see the three volumes of Sir Denzil Ibbetson's and the Honourable Mr. E. D Maclegan's census reports of 1883 and 1892 entitled ' Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province’.

Apart from sharing the same piece of land and a rudimentary language, there is not very much else common among the people of Punjab either. Even the Hindus and Sikhs across the border stake the claim to being Punjabi. Living in the same proximity does not make a nation nor does speaking the same language. The north-western reaches of the province are mostly inhabited by ethnic Pathans. A large part of the population in the cities of Sialkot, Gujranwala and parts of Gujarat and Lahore is Kashmiri. The south-west is composed of mainly Baluchi and Seraiki speaking people that overlap into Sind.

Majority of the people of Sind belong to Baluchi tribes that migrated from Punjab and Balochistan. The boundaries of Balochistan were not drawn along ethnic lines by the British either. It consisted of two separate political and administrative entities - the princely states Kalat, Mekran, Kharan and Lasbella and a British administered zone in the north and east inhabited by various Pashtoon and other tribes. Baluchis do not constitute the majority of the population of the province (3 million out of the total of 7 million). It is also true that there are as many, if not more, Pathans as Baluchis living in the province today. Certainly, there are more ethnic Baluchis living in Punjab (8 million) and Sind (6 million) than there are in Balochistan.

To cap it all, a separate nation has also been claimed in the name of immigrants from various parts of India (Mohajir) now living in different areas of Pakistan. It makes one wonder considering that some, if not most, of the outfits now staking claims to separate nationhood inside Pakistan were quite happy to merge their identity with a united India before independence and in the last case, as late as 2004 (see report by Amrit Baruah in The Hindu, 7th November 2004).

Much of the confusion results from translating the word ‘nation into Urdu as ‘kaum’. The two are not the same. The latter is simply an ethnic identification not tied to a common territorial location or political ideal. There is no precise equivalent of the word ‘nation’ in the vernacular because the institution itself is alien to it. The British in India often equated kaum with ‘caste’ in Hinduism, although the latter is better described as ‘zaat’.

Having said this, the people in Pakistan have a lot more in common with each other when compared with the inhabitants of most of the other countries in the area. The country is unified and rendered indivisible economically by the River Indus and its tributaries that help sustain its life. There is a common history extending back more than five thousand years to the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

With the exception of one or two small groups, like the Brahvis and Makranis, almost all of the people are descended from the same Aryan stock. They are culturally very similar; the vast majority of them have the same religion and a common language they all understand. There are few social taboos and they readily intermarry. These are the primary attributes that form the basis of a nation. The rest is only a matter of time.

People often differ in their views, politicians more than most. It is healthy as long as the basic principles and common aim are not compromised. It was the exaggeration and exploitation of differences carried too far by myopic and unscrupulous politicians that snow-balled and led to the alienation of East Pakistan. They seem to have learnt nothing from the tragedy and continue to create divisions where none need exist, even fanning the flames of religious and sectarian fires ---- a sin if there was one (Holy Koran, 2:62; 2:256; 29:46 and 42:15).

Divisions in any country, be they religious, ethnic or linguistic can be exploited by those who do not wish her well. This is evident from the study entitled, ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’, carried out by the Rand Corporation for the US Air Force that recommended ways to ‘identify' the key cleavages and fault lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional and national lines (among the Muslims) and to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States’.

A country or a nation can be likened to a tree. From time to time it may be necessary to prune the dead wood to maintain its health. However, digging at the roots will almost certainly kill the tree itself. Sadly, there are many politicians who have yet to realize that we are all in the same boat and stand to sink together if they kept drilling holes in the bottom of the ship that is Pakistan .++

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