Cultural cosmopolitanism and Pakistan -Express Tribune

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We are in an age of cultural cosmopolitanism where people belonging to one nation are continuously subjected to the cultural onslaught from those of other nations. And with the passage of time, the situation turns too liquid for a nation or a country to sustain one cultural form. The hegemonic designs and the consequent hybridity because of colonisation and decolonisation have put the last seal on the individual cultures and reduced them to a uniformity of human culture. The forces of globalisation in marketing, along with Internet and easy access to information, have revolutionised the very concept of culture. Now culture of one nation is seeping into the culture of other nations because of factors like frequent and violent migrations. This phenomenon has created the question of cultural identity of nations, especially postcolonial nations.

Pakistan, these days, is a glaring example of cultural cosmopolitanism because of the absence of a common unifying cultural force that would compete with multicultural manifestations from other societies. The postcolonial background has made it more difficult to maintain the individual cultural manifestations of the country. And so gradually but surely Pakistan is drifting towards world culture, especially in the metropolises which are more Westernised rather than indigenous.

Pakistan, as a nation, has not been able to maintain and develop a uniform culture because of a higher level of unacceptability of the indigenous culture. The following of the colonial master’s culture has symbolised a sense of superiority among the people, and so the local values and cultural aspects were left to the poor and the marginalised.

Besides being impacted by colonisation and its after-effects, we have not initiated the cultural practices which would have made us a nation of one culture. People are still willing to be identified as belonging to foreign lands rather than Pakistan. And instead of developing our own cultural values, we have mostly practised Indian cultural values. Moreover, the demographic divisions of our people have also resulted in a plethora of cultures which are mostly dissimilar to each other. The linguistic divide has also asserted itself vigorously. It is good to have diversity in similarity in our cultural matter, but in the case of Pakistan the diversity has asserted itself more than the similarity could. This and many other sociopolitical divides have helped Pakistan very little in becoming a culturally uniform nation.

There is thus the need for special efforts to provide a comprehensive cultural platform for the people so as to be able to promote our indigenous cultural unity; and if we need to absorb some cosmopolitanism, we may do so into our own culture. The foremost step in this regard should be to produce literature in our national language and translate the literature produced in regional languages into Urdu. This needs to be practised and promoted at the school level. Besides, universities and colleges must be interconnected across the country so that the cultural activity of one region could be celebrated in the other as well. Moreover, state must come forward in promoting healthy values of all our regional cultures and integrate them in such a way that a uniform culture called Pakistani Culture is developed reflecting more of the indigenousness. Media should also highlight our healthy cultural values and latest trends instead of promoting the cultural patterns of others, particularly Bollywood.

Pakistani culture is rich in diversity and similarity and can thus be developed easily into a uniform national culture. Our festivals are mostly connected with our religious heritage, so it will not be a big task to popularise them all over the country. The dresses worn by our people have evolved over time and reflect modernity combined with tradition. Moreover, the dresses used all over Pakistan are environment-friendly and rich in beauty, colour and texture.

Promoting local culture would give us a proud identity of our own — representing its people as best as possible — and prevent us from becoming victims of the cultural hegemony of foreign powers. There is no harm though in absorbing healthy values of cultural cosmopolitanism.