Our source of national pride?


Nationalism is best understood in contrast to patriotism. Patriotism is simply love for one’s country, whereas nationalism is the sense that one’s nation is the best, often because it is more sacred than other nations. For the past few months, ‘Wake Up Pakistan’ – a campaign targeting this country’s youth – has been making waves both in the mainstream and social media.

The campaign aims to bring about an ideological revolution in Pakistan:

Pakistan today is in the eyes of the world, what we do and what we don’t will decide the future of Pakistan and the generations to come. We face internal and external threats which are shaking the very foundations of our motherland. Never before were we in such a dilemma, never before did our soil need us more and never before were we called upon to unite. We are not afraid but we are in danger. We have to WAKE UP!

The youth-oriented campaign promises to revive the ideology of the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal. Spearheaded by Zaid Hamid, and supported by fashion designer Maria B and popular rock-star Ali Azmat, the country-wide campaign has comprised lectures at various educational institutes and has gathered quite a fan following.

Hamid’s official fan page left me stunned, and not only because he has a striking 24,682 fans online. What’s really shocking is Hamid’s irresponsibility in the face of his popularity and broad-based access to Pakistani youth.

The latest update on the page reads:  ”Inshallah one day you will hear this………’This is radio pakistan from New delhi’.” Even more startling is the fact that Hamid’s fantasies of invading a neighbouring country were received with messages from young Pakistanis such as “Inshallah” and “we are eagerly waiting for that time!” Such statements contradict Hamid’s claims of reviving the ideology of Jinnah and Iqbal. Indeed, his anti-India stance makes the Wake Up Pakistan campaign delusional, provocative, and downright demagogical.

Let me clarify that this post isn’t about bashing Hamid and his ideologies. It’s an effort to question and decipher his ‘promised prophecies.’ After all, this campaign targets the youth and so I reserve the right to question its goals. I understand that the campaign is about “creating awareness and exposing conspiracies.” But I fail to understand how derogatory remarks about a neighbouring country will help ‘revive’ the youth. I am afraid fantasising about invasions will not solve our problems, and will instead shift focus from our internal conflicts. More dangerously, preaching such ideologies is bound to promote intolerance, which is anathema to a free, functioning, and democratic society.

No doubt, Hamid is capable of remarkable oratory, and is almost hypnotising if you prefer an ego massage to a reality check. For example, a friend’s Facebook status recently read :

You’re the best people; you’re the chosen land; you’re destined to play very special part in God’s plans says Zaid Hamid. Rings a bell? Actually it does ring a bell for its striking resemblance to the beliefs of the ever-so notorious Hitler.

Now, I am not suggesting that Hamid has similar plans. But I do believe that his rhetoric and the Wake Up Pakistan campaign are imparting the same sense of ‘race purity’ to this country’s youth. In fact, such discourse provides a breeding ground for far-right views and commonplace racism.

A precise look at our history will tell us how the religion and race card have been used singularly and in collaboration to distort mindsets and rationalise injustice. Whether it’s justifying dictatorship in the name of religion or promoting conspiracy theories to justify our shortcomings, we have seen it all. The new phenomenon of invoking ‘race purity’ to inspire hope is as dangerous as the trends that have come before. Resulting nationalistic pride, meanwhile, overlooks the deficiencies of our country and its people, while stirring contempt for the virtues of other countries.

For that reason, I am gravely concerned about the majority choice to seek ‘national pride’ in the idea of waging war. In reality, Hamid is doing nothing more than saying what most of us want to believe: our problems are the world’s fault. We are not responsible; they are. This strategy, of course, amounts to nothing more than scapegoating. The right to defend ourselves must never accompany denial of responsibility of our actions.

I fear that the Wake Up Pakistan campaign will promote intolerance and divert attention from our real issues. It is fair to expose foreign involvements in the country’s internal affairs. But at the same time we must understand the nature of such involvements. Tall claims about ‘foreign hands’ rarely include the acknowledgment that interference occurs because it is opportune.

Opportunities arise as a result of our neglect and failure to come to terms with ground realities. They can only be eliminated if we focus on solving some of our most common problems. If we are so capable that we can dream of taking over and governing a billion more people, why don’t we begin at home to improve the literacy rate, provide healthcare, resolve our economic, and socio-political issues? Without answering this simple question, Hamid risks raising an army of youth who are rabid, intolerant, and belaboured by delusions of grandeur, and yet unwilling to tackle Pakistan’s most pressing but absolutely solvable problems.

To be able to foresee our future, we first need to determine our role in the present. If there is a need for an ideological revolution, let it be about realising and rehabilitating the mistakes of our past. Pakistan should wake up, but not to a new dawn of racism and bigotry.


19 thoughts on “Our source of national pride?

  1. very nice article and a very intelluctual way of looking at it… I love the punch line at the end of the article
    “Pakistan should wake up, but not to a new dawn of racism and bigotry.”
    and in reply to this I would say “most definitely”

  2. Well written.Seen this?

    How’s this ‘waking up’ Pakistan I wonder.And I fail to understand why would any Pakistani want to ‘conquer’ India.What’s the charm?

  3. Another great article from you. Thanks. God help Pakistan if ever someone like this got control. It amazes me how easily the youth are led astray. Especially on the internet. These are the youth who have the opportunity for education and access to information and they misuse the opportunity by embracing wreckless retoric. Have you heard of the http://www.wakeupproject.com? These guys are getting quite a following. They make online videos targetting Muslim youth, telling them that the west is running a world order based on the satanic cult.

  4. It was on a forumpakistan, I heard his name for the first time but over looked him. Some people spread false rumours against themselves or their friends to gain cheap advertisement. Reaching to this stage to offer my useless comments on your article, I read your article, Dr. Mohsin Ansari’s article and also some more and useful stuffs on net. The man, you all, are talking about is not so simple, what he looks like. His past must be brought in front of people. A man who believes in fantasy can not bring any revolution but distortion. Now what we and our nation need, is to disclose this man’s secrecy. Untill our national guardian agencies and our loyal journalists help us, we cannot do it at all. We need few volunteers from Pakistani Media and muslim world to take over the case with great zeal and zest to disclose this man at any cost. Atleast we need not more Fazalullah and Baitullah on this land of Pakistan.

  5. Dear Sana!
    I thank you for posting zaid’s expedients for all.
    This is so unsenical to hear Mr. Zaid to revive nationalism by putting people to war with India while neglecting the true essence of nationalism. These people make money and break news by their lunatic statements and remain in news.
    Our nationalist philosophy which is based upon baseless Two-nation theory which is contrary to the convictions and teachings of Islam has done a lot of damage in last 60 plus years. still we are nowhere. and dont know where to go..what he is giving to youth of Pakistan is nasty stuff . Please, stop such people otherwise we are sure to reach at the deepest point of uncertainity, identity crisis, mass slaughter. Peace and educatio, social justice are our issues. poverty is our disease, population is a threat for people to wage war on resources and amidst all this he is directing us to hell.
    Think again

  6. Sana, a great article from you that I was able to read in Dawn.com about Zain Hamid. It is a great service to our country to expose such demegogues. I left my short comments over there too under my name.

  7. I submitted this comment on dawn blog under your article but somehow it was never posted by dawn. I will try posting it here so that you may get some feedback from a different mindset.



    I agree with the author’s views to a good extent. If we are in a problem, our first step should be to blame ourselves rather than pointing finger at others for our misfortune. Having said that, I do believe that there had always remain external elements in destabilizing Pakistan since its inception (i am sorry but you can only be too ignorant if you deny this fact). If anyone is really interested in understanding the world politics, what has been happening for past 100 or so years and where it is heading to I will strongly recommend you to read ‘The Grand Chess Board’ by Zbigniew Brzezinski – ‘The rulers of the world’ by John Pilger – and if you want to get an insight from historical text please read Allama Iqbal’s ‘Javaid Nama’ –

    As far as Zaid Hamid and his statements about putting up the Pakistan flag on Red Fort Delhi is concerned, I would say that he is a bit too aggressive. He should not be thinking along those lines. But when I hear statements from Deepak Kapoor, Robert Gates and their likes, it makes me think that perhaps we deserve the right to reply in similar lines (not that it is the best way and we should be doing the same). The idea of taking over India comes out of frustration. But again, Zaid Hamid talking about taking over India is promptly denounced as intolerant but when CIA issues a map of Pakistan in 2015 with less than half of its original size, no one dares to declare CIA or US government as invaders, intolerant, terrorists etc. etc.

    I agree, our solution does not lie in taking over India, but I think author has missed one point. You proudly labeled Zaid Hamid as intolerant, demagogue, ‘could be hitler’ and what not, but you forgot to mention his another statement on which he emphasizes more than on the one you presented here, where he says that ‘I am saying again: You will see that they (India) will start the war and by god we (Pakistan) will finish it’. Now, I am not saying that war is the only solution, and we can’t co-exist with tolerance but you need to look at the bigger picture as well. Only if you observe global politics closely with analytical mind you will realise that you (Pakistan) are attacked and defamed again and again in front of the world through media, whether it is a statement from any foreign government official or just the way any news about Pakistan is presented on foreign media. you are to be living in a fools paradise if you tend to think that governments of US, UK, EU countries, Israel, India and the present government of Pakistan are your friends in any way. Again, I am not talking about local people of these countries but their governments (that is one thing which most of the people misunderstand). The likes of Zaid Hamid are inevitable to sprout after such realisations. Again, that may not be the best way but you can not ignore them totally by calling them fools with other negative labels.

    He is a staunch follower of Allama Iqbal. If you have any regards to the great poet-philosopher of the 20th century than read him up. Read his political/religious/intellectual works. Reading his few poems would not let you see the whole picture. Try to be his student and a new world will open up in front of you. If you do not regard him than you might need to question your knowledge because I don’t think anyone atleast in Pakistan is near intellectual/knowledgeable as Allama Iqbal. If you think that he could be wrong and so is Zaid Hamid than fair enough, but atleast read him up inside out to make that conclusion, other wise give some room to his thought to some extent.

    Everyone knows what is happening around the world and what is happening in Pakistan. Our country has already been invaded. And we, its citizens should be held responsible because we allowed others to do it. But this does not mean that those who are invading us are innocent. To make my point clear, invasion in a broad sense does not only mean that someone’s land is physically occupied. Our culture, norms, social values and all the systems through which a society is governed (economics, politics, justice, academic) all have actually been hijacked. I will not go into its details here. I think if one intends to be a good observer with an open mind he/she will definitely realise how Pakistan has actually been taken over.

    Anyhow, this is my perspective of the world, yours could be different. But I guess that is what we are here for: to share and learn.


    God bless

  8. I truely dont know what this man stands for.. I see different views and different stances he taken

    For instance this video:

    1. He’s sick… the tragedy is that the illetrate and/or ill-educated ppl of Pakistan find these speach very fancy and attractive!!!
      One thing which I fail to understand why aren’t we’re having ppl with opposite ideology!!! Why can’t our intelluctuals come forward and mobillize youth to the positive things failing ppl like Zaid

  9. The current youth of Pakistan have seen two contrasting and yet equally damaging decades so far. The highly corrupt half democratic decade of the 90s and the 2000s in which a dictator led the country to near collapse. However, while they have become more politically aware than ever they still see hope particularly after the chief justice episode. So at present they not only need a leader but they are also naturally looking for one. Someone who can lead them towards a better future, a future they still hope for. As such being young, anyone who can make a fairy speech will attract them and that’s where the likes of Zaid Hamid come into play. While the education system of our country is a disgrace we can not expect our youth to have enough confidence in tackling the arguments that Zaid Hamid or the likes of him come up with. Therefore, these folks have a strong following among the youth.

    Needless to say, such elements are then easily used by anti-state actors against Pakistan. This has happened in the past. Although many might disagree but Altaf Hussain was one such element who was used from time to time against Pakistan simply because he had a following among muhajir youth for a good cause but his views were rhetorical and were based on racism. Hamid’s following among the youth can easily be manipulated by anti-Pakistan players which are at large especially after so many interested parties are playing a role in Afghanistan.

    We do not need ideological change. The need of the hour is a political change which can bring a true leader who can bring educational emergency and educate the youth who can then decide for themselves through good reasoning who they should follow!

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