Identity Crisis & Extremism


Human beings have always been living in groups so as to feel secure against the ruthless natural forces, both physical and social. These groups gradually spawned tribes and societies based on identical traits, including but not limited to, language, history, ethnicity, religion, geography. Throughout history, these unique social entities had been scattered in different parts of the globe with occasional interaction with one another. In modern era, historic processes of colonization, imperialism and, lately, globalization have revolutionized the scale of this interaction. New technological advances facilitated the intermingling of different societies with some positive as well as negative repercussions. The nature of this interaction is dominated by the West, which is materially powerful and hence overbearing. As a result local identities feel threatened by the set of new values that are diametrically alien to what they had been practicing for centuries. This arrogant encroachment of Western civilization is resisted by native cultures in different ways, from scornful rejection to violent terrorism. In our region, it has given rise to Islamic as well as Hindu extremism. The values system accompanying globalization has an easy pass into the state structure because of state’s exposure to outside world and dependence on the globalized market economy. But society, by and large, rejects and resists this exotic phenomenon. State itself is squeezed between the pressures from Western circles to implement their value system and fierce resistance from the society to protect their local identity. This conflict between external and internal players results in a paralyzed state that fails to take key decisions and all the state energies go waste in formulating an elusive balance between the two. To resolve this dichotomy that was hampering progress, some states decided to impose Western values on their societies using brutal state power. This mechanism was employed by dint of dictatorial regimes in many areas of the globe, especially in most of Middle Eastern countries and Turkey where secular rulers used state machinery to suppress local resistance, resulting in a fractured society wasting its resources fighting with itself. It also created a philosophy in resisting circles that their rulers are immediate threat to their identity and should be the prime targets rather than the remote epicenter of globalization, which is America itself. Despite long periods of state oppression, local identity remained dormant but alive and whenever dictatorial yoke was removed, it ricocheted with an enhanced fervor. Emergence of Justice and Development Party in Turkey is one example. The dramatic rise of ISIS in post-Saddam Iraq and at the same time, emergence of Al Qaeda in post-Gaddafi Libya proves the point. Reza Shah Pahlavi’s modernization endeavor ended into the birth of revolutionary Iran. In ultimate analysis, local identity emerged victorious and this approach is almost universally abandoned. Some states tried to solve the dilemma by integrating native aspirations into state policy. This lopsided strategy resulted in isolation from international community, rising levels of poverty and stagnant growth. State’s appeasement policy towards bearers of resistance appeared as a token of its weakness and soon resisting forces declared their ambition to take over the state itself and use it as a bastion for launching holy wars against the West. Afghanistan under Taliban while Pakistan during Zia ul Haq’s era are two specimen of this policy. Today both countries are infested and devastated by terrorists. What saved us from total rejection in International community is mostly our nuisance value. Saudi Arab escaped this fate thanks to its immense natural resources, although now they are also feeling the heat of changing times. India under Narendra Modi has just embarked on this perilous journey and is likely to face the same fate in the end. After exhausting both the options, there is need for a fresh approach because the problem has now changed into existential threat. History of the last century proves that genie of globalization is powerful enough for a single state to resist successfully. There seems no other option but to form a grand identity with roots in local cultures and history that is common among the neighboring states. Something similar has already been practiced, although it failed to attract attention because it occurred into the heart of the West itself and has happened on a smaller scale. Pakistan and India are staunch rivals with sense of animosity deeply rooted into their social fabric. Like other societies, people from both the countries feel the ripples of globalization from a distance. However when they move abroad to the Western societies, it is like entering into the gravitational pull of a black hole ready to rip apart their identity. It compels these expats to shrug off their narrow version of respective identities to form a new, expanded one which is strong enough to withstand the powerful but alien force of western culture. Based on similarities of culture, geography, language and history, this new bond shows how people from this region are endowed with the capacity to morph into a greater whole. Immigrants from India and Pakistan, mostly become closer in Western Societies only because of the discovery of this new identity where religion takes the backseat and cultural similarities hold sway. This model seems to work as the way forward for our region because countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Iran share common cultural roots and history. Instead of relying on religious ideologies or sectarian preferences that are exclusive by nature, the rich cultural and historical commonalities should be employed as the building block of a grand, regional identity. These countries also share an inseparable past with many former Russian states and China which may be included in the colorful constellation. If this dream comes true, it will set in motion a grand process which many sociologists hesitatingly call Easternization, where Eastern products and values travel towards West, ultimately changing the centuries-old unilateral flow of Westernization.


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مجاہد حسین خٹک کو سچائی کی تلاش بیقرار رکھتی ہے۔ تاریخ اور سماجی علوم میں خصوصی دلچسپی رکھتے ہیں۔ ان کا خیال ہے کہ اعتدال کا تعلق رویوں سے ہے، فکر کی دنیا میں اہمیت صرف تخلیقیت کی ہے۔ اسی لئے ان کی کوشش یہ ہوتی ہے کہ مختلف موضوعات کا جائزہ لیتے ہوئے سوچ کے نئے زاوئیے تلاش کئے جائیں۔

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  1. Khalid Wali Ullah Balghari on

    خوب لکھا ہے. تاہم شناخت کے کسی بھی حوالے کو دینی شناخت سے برتر رکھنا دین کے بنیادی مزاج سے براہ راست متصادم ہے.

    اسکیلئے دینی مزاج کو بدلنے کی غرض سے جو بھی کوشش ہوگی، دین سے وابستہ عوام کے اندر لاشعوری طور پر ایک مخالفت اور شدت پسندی کو جنم دیگا.

    کیرن آرمسٹرانگ نے بھی مذھبی شدت پسندی کی اصل وجہ مذھبی اصولوں سے وفادار طبقے کی اس دل آزارای کو قرار دیا ہے جو جدیدیت پسند طبقہ کی رواداری کے نام پر دینی اصولوں میں من مانی چھوٹ دینے سے پیدا ہوتی ہے.

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