Ethnic politics will lead to Pakistan's doom

A return to ethnic politics will lead only to more bloodshed and violence in a country that is already on the brink.

Taimur Arbab May 24, 2012
With the recent attack on the nationalists’ rally in Karachi and the consequent shutter-down strike observed in the interior of the province, one fears the return of ‘politics of ethnicity’ in Sindh.

What constitutes a person’s ethnicity?

Ethnicity is based on an attachment that brings people together because of similar cultural patterns, making the group a closed network. Language, geography, shared historical memories as well as political and economic ties entrench these groups further into coherent institutions and traditions. The politicisation of ethnicity and its interaction with the state has always been a subject of significance in the political economy of Pakistan.

Since the country has been unable to co-opt its citizens in an overarching nationalistic framework after independence, ethnic tensions have continued to fracture our country’s politics since its inception.

According to academic Subrata Mitra,
“Sub-nationalism in South Asia evokes the same passions and collective memories as that of anti-colonial nationalist movements against British rule during the earlier decades of the century.”

However, what is more dangerous in the case of Pakistan is that these notions of ‘collective memories’ always lead to blatant otherisation among different ethnic groups.

That is the dangerous face of ethnic politics in this country. Since ethnicity remains one of the primordial sources of our identity, in the long run, it seems to be the final determinant of our political proclivities as well.

What Pakistan, and specifically Karachi, needs now is not a turning of the clock backwards. No sane citizen desires a return to the tragedies of early 70s or the decade of the 90s. There is too much at stake here; not only for the city’s inhabitants but also for the whole country.

At present, crisis in the international realm, unrest in Balochistan and the threat of Taliban leave no space for ethnic conflict to rupture our nation.

If such a consensus is not reached soon, a return to ethnic politics will lead only to more bloodshed and violence in a country that is already on the brink.

Read more by Taimur here.
Taimur Arbab A former sub-editor at The Express Tribune, college teacher of Sociology and English Language and a graduate student at Aga Khan Institute for Educational Development, who leans toward the left side of the political spectrum and looks for ideas for his short stories and poems in the everyday happenings of life.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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