Pakistani Nationalism


In 2011 Jawaab conducted a survey with young British-Pakistanis asking if they were proud to be Pakistani. 95% answered yes; when asked the question why, nearly all struggled to answer. Many young people believe that this nationalistic pride comes from their forefathers and the emotions around the creation of Pakistan. You can watch the vox pop here:

The founding father of Pakistan, Muhammed Ali Jinnah envisaged the country to be a western inspired secular democracy. An important characteristic of nationalism is a emotional attachment to ones’ homeland and a common language. In Pakistan, there are many ethnic groups with their own dialects in its four main provinces: Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi and Balochi. This has caused division between the regions and this identity split has trickled into the UK’s diaspora.

All individuals spoke passionately of how Pakistani culture has enriched their lifestyles. Pakistan is the ancestral home of their parents. This gives them a history and distinct heritage. The Pakistani community makes up for shortfalls in the indigenous British community, such as providing a strong fraternal network and culture. Women have a clearly designated role and Islam accords a special role to the female throughout her development as a daughter, wife and mother.

Participants said that being British does not contradict or conflict with being Pakistani. Rather, the two correlate as being British adds a nuance of belonging to a wider society, irrespective of ethnicity. They acknowledge that Pakistani nationalism is fragmented and multiple variations exist across Pakistan, while the country consists of a people distinct from other nationalities. The failure of uniting the people of Pakistan, and consequently in the UK, under a common identity is primarily blamed on the caste system and regional divide. Successive governments have failed to quash the caste system. For this reason Pakistanis have not been able to embrace universal principles of equality, justice and tolerance. Regional divides and tensions existing in Pakistan due to political parties targeting certain regions, has meant Pakistanis, in both countries, see themselves as regional Pakistanis and not under one banner of Pakistan.