Pakistan, a nation?

From Himal Southasian:

News_539579365 Right from the time of Independence, Pakistan has been troubled. The country’s psyche has been scarred since it emerged from the turmoil and bloodletting of Partition. Further trauma was in store when, in 1971, the eastern wing broke away, calling into question the very basis – ostensibly, religion – on which Pakistan was established. Today, the evolution of a composite Pakistani nationalism is being stringently challenged by a spectrum of sub-nationalisms. Still, one must not give in to the temptation to make too much of even this litany of woes and challenges – many of the other countries in Southasia, as in the rest of the world, live with such tensions. Perhaps Pakistan only reflects the problems more clearly.

Our cover image for this issue, taken by photojournalist Muhammad Danial Shah, presents a detail from the National Monument in Islamabad. The very design of the monument, inaugurated in 2007, is one that fervently seeks to forge a composite Pakistani nationalism, with four main petals and three smaller petals representing the extant four provinces and three territories (see pic). But bas relief in marble can only do so much to develop a unitary identity as a sum of the parts. Local and regional aspirations will have to be recognised in a ‘nations within nations’ formula – and the question is how successful Pakistan will be, given that the country is still a work in progress? There is no one answer, and the articles in this issue reflect the possibility of a multi-faceted formula. While some would claim that Pakistan is a failed state, others would say that it is stable enough to stand alone, the result of six decades of cohabitation. The hope is that Pakistan overcomes its existential angst before too long, because Pakistani stability and self-confidence would do wonders to the idea of Southasia.

More here.