Civic and ethnic nationalism in Pakistan. (2022)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In this thesis, Pakistan's experience with nationalism is studied by highlighting the interplay of civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism. This study also focuses on understanding education's role in creating a shared nationalism. This thesis has employed Gellner's well-developed argument on nationalism, his zones of nationalism to examine civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism, and his emphasis on the role of education in creating shared high culture in nation-states.
The thesis has four hypotheses. The first hypothesis argues that since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism have been in competition with each other. The second hypothesis posits that the elites in Pakistan promote civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism in ways that benefit their short term self-interests. The third hypothesis maintains that elites promote civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism as it benefits them; therefore, their approach towards national education policies also reflects the form of nationalism they promote. The final hypothesis argues that education policies have been ineffective in addressing internal diversities and developing shared nationalism or civic nationalism in Pakistan.
This study is conducted through a historical analysis of politics and national education policies in Pakistan. Interviews of bureaucrats, politicians, school principals and teachers, and academics were conducted for primary data collection. The research is broadly based on secondary data sources. Pakistan is examined as a deviant case that simultaneously falls in Gellner’s zone one, three, and five of nationalism.
This thesis has found that during different historical phases, the political and military elites in power at the national level have promoted some form of high culture. However, the formation of shared high culture has been subject to shifting focuses, and competition from folk and religious cultures. This thesis concludes that the elites promote their proposed civic nationalism at the national level and simultaneously promote ethnic nationalism at provincial levels to secure short term self-interests. The religious elites promote religious nationalism as a political narrative. The religious-political parties form alliances with ethnic-based political parties and support military regimes to secure short term political gains. Broadly, religious nationalism has not been able to gain popular support in Pakistan.
The study finds that political, military, and religious elites have subjected national education policies to shifting focuses, reflecting the form of nationalism they were promoting at the time of policy formation. Education in Pakistan lacks standardization. The public schools, private schools, and madrassas constitute different and parallel education systems in Pakistan. Therefore, in Pakistan, national education has been unable to address socio-economic, ethnic, and religious divisions. A shared civic nationalism has not been shaped through education.
The study illuminates that zone one style civic nationalism has not been formed in Pakistan. After the disintegration of Pakistan in 1971, Pakistan has not fully transitioned to zone three style ethnic nationalism. Pakistan has not adopted religious nationalism. There is an ongoing competition among civic, ethnic, and religious nationalism. The deviation from the discussed zones of nationalism might suggest a need to broaden the scope of Gellner’s nationalism to include other post-colonial states, where it seems that due to ethnic and religious conflicts, and colonial imprints on the education system, a shared form of nationalism has not been formed.
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