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Mariam Khan Headshot

Ethnic Impasse: A Problem of the Past

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1947 was the year Pakistan's boundaries were demarcated on the world map. Muslims of the sub-continent desired a separate homeland for themselves on the basis of a common religion: Islam. Unfortunately, 66 years on, religion is the only commonality that prevails in a country that has a soaring population of 180 million.

A country that has experienced political instability, ever increasing tensions with neighboring India, poverty that has been rising rapidly, unemployment rates that have been increasing annually, the core problem, the crisis that has embraced the country ever since it came into existence, is the ethnicity crunch.

Pakistan is comprised of a wide variety of ethnic groups. Punjabi's, Pushtun's, Sindhi's, Mohajir's and Balochi's are the major ethnic groups that make up the turmoil stricken state.

Punjabi's make up the largest ethnic group that is 44.68% followed by Pashtun's, 15.42%. These are the country's largest indigenous groups.

Since the time of Pakistan's birth, the feeling of nationalism was based on one's ethnicity. Members of different communities identified themselves to the ethnic group they belonged to, rather than associating themselves to the country they were now living in. The ruling class, should have realized that a nation which has nothing in common, apart from religion, needs to be governed extra cautiously.

Unfortunately, rulers of the past and the present, have kept ignoring the notion.

Military run governments or rulers that came to power democratically; each controller, under his dominion tried making the nation stable politically, economically, socially and militarily. The indispensable aspect of uniting the nation's populace on the basis of being a Pakistani was continuously overlooked.

Punjabi's who are the largest ethnic group, have a fair control in the bureaucracy. The country's capitalist bloc comprises of an indomitable number of member's of this ethnicity. Being well educated, they are ranked at the top posts available. Majority of the military men even belong to this ethnicity. Thus, it is inevitable that grievances against this particular group, is seen at large.

Mohajir's, who migrated from India, during partition have a lot to complain about. With a population of 7.57%, they have been highlighting the problems that members of their faction have to experience with little rights and seats allotted to them.

A growing refugee problem is also what has been termed as problematic by the residents of Pakistan's largest metropolis, Karachi, where the greatest numbers of Mohajir's are residing.

Similar cries are heard from Balochi's and Sindhi's who have been struggling for equal rights for their groups now and again.

The question arises: has the government been able to solve the issues of these parties?

Lamentably, even after six decades of Pakistan's existence, the rulers of the nation have failed to address the interests of their people.

It won't be long when, like the Baloch insurgents, affiliates of different ethnic backgrounds will also start rebellions when circumstances get unbearable.

The present government needs to realize that Pakistan should not repeat the events of 1971 when Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, separated from its Western part. In order to prevent history from repeating itself, serious consideration should be given towards equal rights for all classes and groups.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate,
violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a
descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil --
hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken,
or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Let us hope, a united Pakistan can drive away all the darkness that has been haunting it.