National Integration and Cohesion in Pakistan
This article explains the concepts ‘national integration’ and ‘national cohesion’ the factors responsible for their promotion. The article also discusses the importance of national cohesion and integration.
What does the term ‘national integration’ refer to?
The term ‘national integration refers to the process of binding a people of society into one nation. Ghanni (2018) as cited in Weiner (1965) defines the term ‘national integration as a political phenomenon in which cultural loyalty is created in society and among citizens aimed at creating a homogenous environment and a sense of national peace.
To put it in simple words, the term ‘national integration refers to the unity developed among people based on political and economic interests. For example, the United States of America (USA) is a nation-state of more than 52 states. These states have merged together to make the USA after coming into a social contract guaranteeing the socio-economic and political rights and interests of the people of each individual state.
What does the term ‘national cohesion’ refer to?
The term national cohesion refers to a sense or a feeling of belonging to the same nation or group, community, etc. In a country like Pakistan, people may belong to different regions, communities, races, languages, etc. but they act as one nation because of already existing common factors, e.g. religion, common history, common geography, common language, etc. Thus promotion of national cohesion is possible only through the reconciliation of already existing differences and promotion of already existing common factors.
Thus, national integration and national cohesion act as complements and supplements for each other. The latter is strongest when citizens have equal opportunity and access to resources and the motivation to participate in national life.
What are the factors that promote national integration and cohesion?
Factors enhancing national cohesion and integration in Pakistan are as follows;
1. Dispensation of the due economic and political rights
Provision of the due economic and political rights of people of different regions is the key factor in the promotion of national unity. Pakistan is a federation in which the federating units are a part of this agreement that their due share in finances; political representation, etc. would be safeguarded.
2. Promotion of Urdu as the national language
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan. It is the lingua franca of Pakistan and has been playing an important role in connecting people as one nation. Urdu is a neutral language for people in Pakistan as it is the first language of none of the people of any region of Pakistan but people of all regions can speak and understand it. This is because Urdu contains a huge vocabulary of all local languages and share similarity to a great extent.
3. Promotion of common cultural values
Pakistan is a multicultural nation. Nevertheless, these cultures share many important cultural values, symbols, and components. These common cultural aspects can be projected and promoted to enhance national cohesion and integration among the people of Pakistan.
4. Promotion of common cultural aspects i.e. Islamic values.
Islam is the dominant religion in Pakistan. 97% of people are Muslims. This Muslim population contains not one school of thought. Two main sects of Islam and then their sub-sects live in Pakistan. Although they have principled differences with each other in their practices.
The common religions Islam can bind them together as has been the case for the last 72 years. Promoting and projecting common Islamic values and beliefs as part of national life rather than imposing one school of thought on the other can help promote national integration and cohesion.
5. Inclusion of people from all parts of Pakistan in national teams
Provision of equal opportunities irrespective of region, race, religion in the personal and collective fulfillment can enhance national unity. For example, in the Pakistani cricket team, you won’t find people from interior Sindh, Balochistan, AJK, and GB. People of these areas have cultivated a sense of alienation with the state for its discriminatory approach.
What is the importance of national cohesion and integration?
Following is a detailed thematic discussion on the significance of national integration and national cohesion.
1. A guarantee to socio-economic development
A country without national integration is a country without social cohesion and a sense of belongingness (Ghani 2018). According to Ghanni (2018), such a country is often implied as a country with a failed socio-political economy.
National integration and cohesion promote political stability in a country which is very important for socio-economic development. Similarly, the daily business of life in education, health, industries, agriculture, trade, and commerce, etc. can only be smoothly run in peace. Thus Socioeconomic development cannot be achieved in times of anarchy, conflict, and tension.
2. Best panacea for the menace of provincialism
The elements looking for excuses to use the provincial cards for their politics when people of a particular province are discriminated against by a central government. In Pakistan, provincialism has been a big issue that led to the disintegration of the country in 1971.
To promote national integration simply means to ensure the protection of politico-economic rights and interests of people of different regions, communities, etc. This result in an end to the bitterness and reservations created among people of different provinces thus putting an end to the menace of provincialism.
3. Protection of civil liberties and human rights
The lack of national integration is often a result of the denial of the fundamental human, political and economic rights of people of one or more than me regions. The marginalization of forced isolation from the mainstream development leads to rebellion characterized by insurgencies which in turn leads to operations and conflicts. In such a situation, sheer violation the fundamental human rights and civil liberties is committed.
4. Bulwark against anti-state activities
As mentioned in the above lines, denial of politico-economic rights and interests of a specific group of people can lead to national disintegration rather than any unity among the people. Moreover, it may also result in political and communal conflict arise which ultimately takes the shape of separatist and terrorist movements. Therefore, it is very important to promote political, communal, and regional pluralism which serves as a bulwark against insurgencies, separatist movement, and terrorism.
5. Creation of a unified approach against external threats
As a matter of fact, all nations have friends and enemies like that of a man. These external enemies of a state always try to exploit the sentiments of the people of politically and economically oppressed regions. The persistent politico-economic subjugation coupled with torture, mass murder, etc. may force people to take support of the enemy countries as a last resort and in an attempt to get freedom.
On the contrary, ensuring equitable distribution of resources, due to political and economic rights enhances national integration. This results in a happy populace with a strong sense of patriotism and sacrifice for the state. Thus promotion of national unity is very important to do away with external threats faced by the state.
1. Ghani, F. (2018). Role of Leadership in Preferment of National Cohesion and Solidity: Theoretical Analysis. Journal of Politics and International Studies, 4(1), 75-82.