CULTURAL IDENTITY IN PAKISTAN 10
CulturalIdentity in Pakistan is influenced by factors that present issues tobe solved for the conservative country
Cultureis a main factor used by historians, academicians or studentscommunities to gain a better understanding of a particular people asit is the main tool of identity. To understand the culture ofPakistan, it is good to look learn it by exploring the way of life ofthe country. The way of life and the culture of the Pakistanis aremainly dependent on religion and agriculture. The main religiouspractice is Islam. Islam is a source of identity and unity, as wellas offering a central pillar to the Pakistani life. This essentiallyimplies that religion plays a significant role in the lives of thePakistan citizens by dictating much of their daily lives. Inaddition, agriculture accompanies religious beliefs of the Pakistanwith almost half of the working population in this part of South Asiafully employed in this particular field.
Thekeywords that will predominantly appear throughout the discussioninclude but not limited to culture, cultural identity, history andemblems.
Thediscussion on the South Asian nation seeks to highlight the culturalidentity of the Pakistani population. The paper is directed to aglobal audience of readers who is interested in learning the culturalsetup of this part of South Asia. The audience will have a betterunderstanding by gaining a deeper insight in the general culture andnational symbols that unify and identify the Pakistan population.Being of Asian descent, the position gives me a better understandingof the culture, even as I research and focus on presenting theinformation to the audience.
Thefollowing discussion will explore the historical South Asian culturewith a particular focus on Pakistan nation. To explore the culture ofthe South Asian, the paper will discuss the target audience andexplain why they are suited for this discussion. It will also explorethe main factors that are attributed to the cultural identity ofPakistan giving historical events that contributed heavily to theircultural identity. Finally this discussion will help the readerproject whether there is any likelihood of Western influence in thenear future to the Pakistan culture.
Thehistory of Pakistan influences the culture of the country. Politicalhistory is another important factor that identifies many Pakistancitizens as truly Pakistan. Their political history dates back to1940’s when Pakistan was able to separate itself from India(Siddiqi, 2012). Religion played a significant role in identityissues as Muslims were given a separate political entity thatidentified themselves among themselves. Through this separation, oneis able to discover that identity in Pakistan is more than merelypolitical identity. It is mostly tied to religious practice which ismainly Islam. Therefore, many individuals had to be tied in Islam inorder to identify with the rest of Pakistan population. This meansthat Islam religious practice was and still is the most dominantreligious practice. This religious practice played a major part inthe general political set up as majority of Muslim did not want to beruled by other religious organizations such as Hinduism (Siddiqi,2012).
Pakistanis typically a conservative nation whose cultural identity andlifestyle was heavily influenced by the rural and traditionallifestyle (Elias, 2011). For this reason, Pakistan has high esteem tothe local communities as community set ups have always been animportant cultural resource. Hence, the lives of the Pakistan peopleand their cultural practices heavily depend on their communities.However due to their agricultural practice that is common to manypeople, they rely on climatic conditions such as the sun, the weatherand the seasons that dictate how their schedules run. During theseagricultural seasons, many Pakistan farmers get very busy schedulesin their agricultural fields and end up seeking help from theirfamilies as their neighbors. It is during such busy periods thatcommunal labor is common and is significant to every Pakistan farmer.
Additionally,Islam dictates the overall cultural way of life of most Pakistanpopulation, as it is regarded to be an important tool for culturalidentity. In this regard, most Pakistan population is forced to prayfive times a day with a very large number of people taking part inFriday afternoon prayers (Ahmed, 1997). Religion is an importantcultural tool for this part of South Asia as it is used by leaders togive a general direction to the people in matters such as diet,dressing and the acceptable behavior. According to Ahmed (1997), allthese issues that are taught by religious leaders are important toolsfor cultural identity.
However,this cultural identity is mostly predominant in rural areas more thanin urban areas due to the difference in cycle of schedules. Theworking environment and other demands in the city dictate the generaldirection of many city dwellers of Pakistan. As a result, there aremany city dwellers in Pakistan who end up being Muslims by name asthey do not practice the Islam religion regularly.
Thereis identity bias particularly, gender when it comes to educationalopportunities in many parts of Pakistan. This is because there aremany parts of Pakistan that have varying perspectives as per aseducation opportunities are concerned. There is thus a general viewthat educational opportunities should be reserved to the male membersof the community as compared to their female counterparts (Elias,2011). In addition, there are strong views that classrooms aresupposed to be segregated by sex in areas that allow the femalemembers of the community to have educational opportunities (Elias,2011). However, education is an important cultural identity inPakistan as they regard it in the highest esteem.
Oneof the main artifacts that represent cultural identity in Pakistan isthe national symbols. While highlighting cultural identity inPakistan, it is worthy to discuss some forms of national symbols thatconstitutes to identity. The main national symbol of identity inPakistan is its national flag that was adopted in July, 1947(National, 1995). It is during this period that Pakistan attained itsindependence from its former colonial master. This flag was designedby a gentleman known as Ali Jinnah who was believed to be the founderof Pakistan. The left side of Pakistan flag contains a thick whitestrip while the rest of the flag is covered in a green backgroundwith five pointed stars at the centre with a white crescent. Thewhite part of the flag is a symbol for peace while the vast greenbackground represents prosperity. The crescent shape of the flagstands for Pakistan’s prosperity while the star representsguidance, light and knowledge (National, 1995).
Anotherimportant Pakistan cultural identity is found in its national emblem(National, 1995). This circled with a wealth of flowers that aretypically Jasmine. The shield contains four main important sectionseach representing Pakistan’s major and significant product. Asmentioned earlier, Pakistan has high regards for agriculturalactivities that are practiced by almost half of the population(Tierney, 2000). Therefore, the emblem has some of these products indifferent sections to signify or show their importance to thedevelopment and creation of Pakistan nation.
Inaddition, just as in the national flag, the emblem has a crescent aswell as a star each having its own meaning and representation. Thereare visible scripts that are displayed beneath the wealth with threewords namely faith, unity and discipline (National, 1995). Thesewords are written in the official language of Pakistan which is Urdu,to signify cultural unification and identify of the Pakistan people(Farooqi, 2012).
Oneof the issues in Pakistan is the influence of other languages ontheir cultural identity. Language is an important factor that unifiesthe people of Pakistan and thus forming the cultural identity. Inthis case, the most practiced language in Pakistan is Urdu, withEnglish being the most recognized informal language. This languagewas formed by combining early settlers and invaders’ languages.These two languages were then combined with other languages such asPersian, Arabic and Turkish to form this officially recognizedlanguage that is referred to as Urdu (Farooqi, 2012). The Pakistanpopulation speaks Urdu almost in similar manner that Hindu is spoken.However, the main difference between the two is noticed when writingthe scripts of these two languages. In addition, it is worth notingthat there exist other forms of languages that are spoken in Pakistanapart from English and Urdu. Some of other languages spoken in thispart of South Asia includes Sindhi, Punjaki, Pushto, Brahvi,Balochi, Hindko and Saraiki (Farooqi, 2012).
Anotherissue is the international identity that Pakistan and its culturehave in the world map. Internationally, Pakistan nation is identifiedas an Islamic state since its inception or creation. However,Pakistan has rich world history that happened in the territories ofPakistan dating a thousand years back. This world history is known toform part of the identity of Pakistan to this present day (Siddiqi,2012). This forms part of the reason why Pakistan is considered bymany world visitors as well as its locals to be an interesting nationdespite the fact that it is still a young nation is South Asia. Amongthe many national identities of Pakistan in this regard, arehistorical sites as well as stories that are known to be manycenturies older than the Pakistan nation itself (Siddiqi, 2012).
Theculture involves vast population fasting during the Holy month ofRamadan (Tierney, 2000). Curry and spices are cultural foods thatessentially an integral part of the common Pakistan recipe. Amongstthese spices are turmeric, chili powder, paprika, red and blackpepper, bay leaf, cumin seed, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger,saffron, poppy seeds and nutmeg. In addition, during meat marinating,Pakistan typically use yogurt as a common recipe (Tierney, 2000). ThePakistan population basically utilizes specific diets of foods fromsea food, to meat, drinks, and wheat and flour products in a specificmanner that easily identifies them with their culture.
Oneof the most possible solutions to the issues is taking family as thebasic social unit of molding the culture and identity of thePakistanis. Family is an important factor in cultural identity inPakistan most families normally ensure that they prepare theirchildren for success (Desai, 2013). This means that most families inPakistan ensure that they prepare their children adequately forpersonal and financial success. For this reason, education plays anintegral part during such preparations especially in places wherethey require educational qualifications in order to offer jobopportunities.
Anotherpossible solution is to language issues is to teach children abouttheir native languages, using family as the basic social unit. Forthe reasons of imparting social culture like language, family is animportant part of most Pakistan families. This is a significantcultural identity that ensures that families offer the bestopportunities to their children. However, due to ideologicaldifferences that are mainly dictated by religious beliefs, there arevarying paths that many parents take regarding the future of theirchildren as far as educational opportunities are concerned.
Nonetheless,it is important to understand that despite these differences that aretaken by parents from different parts of Pakistan, there are factorsthat remain to be an integral part of cultural identity. The two mainfactors that unify the Pakistan population include religion and theimportance of family units in the communities (Desai, 2013). Otherfactors such as economic or financial positions are not an integralpart of Pakistan cultural identity. These are taken to be secondaryor non-important aspects that identify the Pakistan people.
CulturalIdentity in Pakistan is influenced by the factors of history,language and religion among others that present issues to be solvedfor the conservative country. The future of the cultural identity ofPakistan is bright if the country focuses on taking the rightmeasures of promoting culture. The culture of Pakistan is the mainunifying factor to the people and so the country could remainconservative preserving key cultural identity tools such as religion,agriculture and family. For this reason, it is conceivable toconclude this discussion by projecting that Pakistan is more likelyto remain conservative devoid of Western influence for a long periodof time.
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DesaiRsadhika. (2013). Developmentaland Cultural Nationalism.New York. Routeledge.
EliasJ. Jamal. (2011). OnWings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan.Pennsylvania. One World Publishers.
Farooqi.M. (2012). Urdu:Literary Culture.New York. Springer Shop Publishers.
SiddiqiHanif Farhan. (2012). ThePolitics of Ethnicity in Pakistan.New York. Routledge.
TierneyStephen. (2000). AccommodatingNational Identity.Pakistan. Martinis Nijhoff Publishers.
NationalCommission on History and Culture (1995). TheCultural Policy of Pakistan.Pakistan. Ministry of Culture, government of Pakistan