The following is a seriously sarcastic or sarcastically serious op-ed in continuation of an earlier piece I wrote on August 30, 2015, “Is Pakistan Threatened By Its Own Inhabitants Too?”
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the term ‘jingoism’ as:
“the feelings and beliefs of people who think that their country is always right and who are in favor of aggressive acts against other countries”
Sound relatable? It should.
Many citizens around the world have aggressive feelings in favor of their homeland and against whom they perceive is their enemy. For Pakistan, India is its declared enemy. This mindset is not limited to government circles alone but trickles deep down to the ordinary man and woman. We are taught this in school curriculum, news bulletins and in ‘gupshup’ circles every now and then. And there is absolutely no reason why this should not happen. The identification of a foe is essential in developing adequate protective measures.
But being aware and mindful of an enemy, and considering oneself as ‘supreme’, are totally different perspectives. Some people often mistake awareness with jingoism in a false sense of brevity. According to them, since they are faced with a barrage of threats and a ‘cunning’ adversary, there must be something “grand” about them. In other words, I’m being threatened because something about me makes the other jealous. Have we ever stopped and asked what our opponent has to be “jealous” about? Surely not our religion, because they don’t respect it anyways. Neither our ethnicities because they consider only Brahmins as the acceptable breed. Being jealous of our language (Urdu) would be a laughable suggestion since we ourselves don’t care much for it. Our culture? Not really, India prides itself on its renowned film industry (Bollywood) and its diverse but binding culture under the umbrella of ‘Mother India’. Our academic or technical expertise? Not at all. Bangalore is known as the IT hub in South Asia with Silicon Valley giants having an established presence. It is far ahead of Pakistan in terms of market share and R&D expertise. Our armed forces? Again no, because India has a far larger force structure and manpower on 24/7 standby.
So then, why does India want to destabilize and eventually occupy Pakistan?
Some of the reasons for this are as follows:
• Economic interests (sea-land routes to and from Arabian Sea to Central Asia)
• Political interests (restoration of the so-called ‘Akhand Bharat’ which will substantially increase Indian land mass)
• Religious interests (the spread of orthodox Hindu teachings)
• Security interests (creation of a buffer zone against terrorists)
These ‘interests’ should not be misconstrued as ‘points of jealousy’. Every nation-state in the world has vested interests, they are not human entities. But that is exactly how we perceive it. The more India bangs the drums of war, the more our chests puff up with newfound boldness and courage. We start recounting our grandeur, our might, our magnificence, our beliefs; then we kick off on a rampage against the enemy, how it tries to weaken us day and night but we refuse to end our vocal outcry because we are right.
As the adrenaline continues to pump, we realize something more: the enemy is not alone, it is accompanied by all others to give a definitive blow (as if they all have so much time to spare at the same time). In order to diminish these threats, we become more aggressive and ‘war-like’ by nature and prepare ourselves to protect the motherland at all costs, even if the adversary is busy focusing someplace else.
Since by this time we’ve assumed that the enemy has kept its entire focus on us, we spend all our resources on collective defence. What we realize later on is that while we emptied our national treasury in paranoid security enhancements, the enemy was cleaning up its own house and reviving its economy.
Days turned into months, years and eventually decades. We are still in Square One. We are more weaker than before internally, we are in severe foreign debt, our literacy rate hasn’t improved, we are far from achieving Millennium Development Goals, but still we feel superior to our foes.
So what if they acquired better education and are trying to improve their conditions (individually and collectively)? So what if they expose their own faults and rectify them? Pakistan apparently cannot afford to introspect because it can lead to ‘misleading results’ which can be used as ‘propaganda’. Not even we should be cognizant of our shortcomings because this ‘sensitive info’ can be wrongfully exploited by the enemy.
To present an analogy, consider this: We are on an island that is gradually being submerged in the ocean. With each passing year, portions of the land mass are sinking. We have built a tower right in the middle of the island to monitor enemies from all sides. It is only later when the water falls inside the observatory post that we realize we literally have ‘no ground’ to stand on.
Our tactical nuclear weapons and strategic weapons are a necessity. The country’s civil-military leadership over the course of years were compelled to create and maintain them because of a hostile neighbor. Yet we have assumed that the development of these weapons in itself is the pinnacle of our might. Naturally, we start feeling that maybe the only possible thing left to do is explore outer space (sadly we haven’t thought about this too).
The example above highlights a limit we have set for our intellectual pursuits, rooted deep in jingoism.
My country is always right because it can never go wrong. This statement is logically fallacious. What are the exact reasons for which we consider ourselves superior? Have we studied and measured them on a comparative scale? If yes, there are bound to be shortcomings. Will we improve upon them or turn a blind eye again?
But wait, we already possess full-spectrum deterrence capability, don’t we? It is the enemy that needs to catch up. Pakistan Zindabad.
image credit: Dawn.