It has now become somewhat a ritual in Lahore for Pashtun students to face racial micro aggressions. Here speaking Pashto and wearing cultural dress suggest conspiring with Afghanistan or India against the ideology of Pakistan. This attitude of belittling others has led to Pashtun students internalizing stereotypes and engaging in self-surveillance.
A discomforting sensation to the end, i have been witnessing many Pashtun students abandoning their cultural dresses only to pose themselves acceptable before other students and for girls in particular. No feeling can be far from the comfort than the one under my consideration which compels students to take a break from own culture and history. When your language and tribal features came to be treated as a stigma in a society, then the best recourse seems to be forcing yourself into non-conversation which is of course not .This spirit of self-denial is pervasive among Punjab-based Pashtun students who are unintentionally falling prey to the disease of victimology.
Most visible takeaway point from the recent trends is that culture is associated with fatalism and therefore is stigmatized. Such trends should be eviscerated with the arguments based on references from historical accords. More importantly, people disillusioned with culture should be kept aloof from the Orwellian notes on nationalism because it can be misunderstood leading to serious changes in personality.
Aren’t these students drowning in their bile? This question keeps haunting me persistently. Retreating from their own norms and traditions gives them a tunnel vision of short-term satisfaction- So be it. But How can non-conformists like myself can help these students out? Is there any key to restoring the sense of superiority or even equality, which was long cherished by our forbearers, in the minds of these students?
I am hauntingly concerned. Who is to blame for this divorce with culture and traditions? Depressingly, this divorce is without consent. There is greater probability of reunion with the culture forsaken under the impression of Posh Lahore.
But there is a key which can lubricate my concerns and that very key lies in political nationalism. Politics of an ethno-nationalist party has the potential to rejuvenate the dead connection with civilization. It can make you alive to the proud vignettes of history which had become vague due to fixation with pomp of metropolitan cities.
Effects caused by long-lasting exposure to racial profiling can be countered through anointing them with the balm of political nationalism. However, too much balm can turn heads. Though students sapped out of attachment with tribal culture may undergo counter-indications if exposed to over-dose of nationalism, yet this is not case with Pashtun nationalism. Nationalism substantiated by politics of Pashto has no known side effects. There is a clear boundary between Pashtun nationalism and racism which is protected with concertina wires meant for preventing infiltration of any kind.
Every student should study diatribes of Lord Acton against Nationalism but difference between civic nationalism and chauvinistic nationalism should be kept in mind. Pashtun nationalism is civic in every sense of the word and it can protect us from blind patriotism besides from bow-out to fierce modern ideologies.