Pakistan is purportedly an ideological state; unique in her kind. Pakistani nationalism and existence of state of Pakistan is oft-justified on religious lineaments within doctrinal domain of Islamic nationalism. Naturally, those who do not fall within this very domain question raison d’etre of Pakistan’s existence. No effort has been done, unfortunately, to test veracity of Pakistan on basis of doctrines other than Islam. Let us step out of our native domain and take with us our case in the lab of some western philosophical doctrine. If justifications for Pakistan’s existence are to be sought and existential issues are to be appraised, no philosophy can be more pertinent than Existentialism.
Existentialism is a popular philosophy concerning existence of an individual. Now can Pakistan be considered as an individual? Yes, state is an individual entity almost analogous to an individual person. International law is based on this very notion which binds states as municipal law binds persons. One more thing has to be established that tests would be conducted on the prima facie and accepted fundamentals of Existentialism rather than any intricacies or hair splitting. Furthermore, these tests would not be advertently orchestrated in order to achieve some desirable results.
Existentialism is divided into two distinct branches, one is theistic and other is atheistic. Theistic Existentialism was propounded and expounded by Soren Kirkegaard, a Danish philosopher. His version of Existentialism was based on statement ‘Subjectivity is truth’. If this is the litmus paper, there is no need of any litmus paper to conduct any test on nationalism of Pakistan in the first place, as subjective approach of Pakistani nationalist leaders would always be true. This leaves us with Kirkegaard’s another concept pertaining to three phases of development of subjective approach which ultimately translates into existence.
1st. Aesthetic stage
2nd. Ethical and Moral Stage
3rd. Religious stage
Did Pakistani nationalism pass through these stages? Yes, it did. Aesthetic stage was set in by Sir Syed who famously argued in his Khutbat e Ahmadiyyah that there can be no contradiction between word of God and work of God. He pushed Muslims to test authenticity of religious dogmas in juxtaposition with nature. ‘Father of two nations’ theory’ or ‘spiritual founder of Pakistan’ was the one who led ‘Pakistan’ through Kirkegaard’s first stage.
Second stage spanned decades of development of Pakistan’s nationalism’s moral aspect albeit it was too started by Sir Syed’s another work, Tehzeeb ul Akhlaq. Ethical and moral aspect has vast sphere of connotations which includes development of both charitable and optimistic facet of nationalism itself and its adherents’ improved social life.
Third stage does not beg for much elaboration as it is much documented portion of Pakistan struggle in which nationalism was gradually wrapped under religious raiment. Kirkegaard’s call this stage climax of one’s epistemological faculties, culminating into a perfect being.
So, Kirkegaard’s Existentialism seemingly verify claim of Pakistani nationalists that Pakistani nationalism had evolved over time into Pure Land. But wait, atheistic branch of Existentialism remains to be figured in and who knows which will turn tables?
French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre was main proponent of atheistic Existentialism while Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Camus are also considered as other instrumental proponents of said doctrine. Its dictum goes as: ‘Existence precedes essence’. Now this litmus papers has precluded any possibility of appraising essence of Pakistan as existence never succeeds an essence. Pakistan has an existence and there isn’t iota of doubt about that. Pakistan came into existence in 1947 and Existentialism limits our domain for further tests to be applied only on post-1947 Pakistan. We can safely bypass or even repudiate claims like ‘Pakistan came into existence that very day, when first Muslim stepped onto subcontinent’ as this existence, -if it was any- was mere in the form of an abstract notion. Sartre, unlike Kirkegaard, neither accepted pseudo-existence nor chalks out distinct sequential stages. Sartre, however contrived two terminologies which relate to respective facets of an individual’s existence.
First is ‘Absurdity and Angst’ which relates to internal facet of existence. Sartre argues that an individual tries to find out innate and inherent meanings of his existence -which are nonexistent in reality- in order to pacify his inner-self but at one point of life or another, reality is bound to be revealed. This futile activity turns out to be ‘absurd’ and individual gets entangled in feeling of ‘angst’ which is a sum product of anger, despair and perplexity. Pakistan, which tried to find out her true meanings (or ideology) since 1947 – and every time updated it in her three or four constitutional documents- is facing same ‘absurdity’ which results into her ‘angst’ often popularly phrased as ‘identity crisis’.
Second, which is external facet of existence is phrased by Sartre as ‘Hell is other’. He explained three phases which vindicate this claim. In first phase individual tries to be loyal to someone in order to be pleasureful, successful and peaceful but later finds out that it was merely humiliating subjugation so in second phase he himself subjugates others for similar purposes but again without any substantial satisfaction. In third phase, out of utter dismay, he abandons everyone, does not take any side or position, tries to be neutral and dormant but this too proves to be counterproductive as he himself could not bear isolation and others too, do not let him abandon them. So, he ultimately succumbs to Sartre’s idea that ‘Hell is other’.
When we analogize Pakistan with this facet, we find staggering similitude. Pakistan, soon after partition joined US and KSA club and offered her allegiance in order to ensure continuity of its existence, later she tried to forcefully earn allegiances by intruding and meddling into cross border affairs ie Afghanistan and Kashmir and when nothing resulted in pleasure, success and peace for her, she for the first time in history decided to keep her hands out of others’ mess but again with admonishments and warnings from GCC.
Tests have been successfully conducted, results are conspicuously evident and problems have been duly diagnosed. Now what’s cure for Pakistan’s angst or identity crisis or even existential crisis? Sartre’s philosophy, fortunately, takes its cure into account. It says that both of these problems can be resolved if individual is ‘Authentic’ and ‘Authentic’ is he, who has ‘authenticity’ in his existence and ‘Authenticity’ can be assured only if he realizes that he does not need to ‘find’ any essence or reason for existence before his actual existence but has to ‘construct’ a reason himself to authenticate his existence. Pakistan, like Attaturk’s Turkey has to be ‘authentic’ first -abandoning all preposterous pursuits- far before aspiring for ever becoming ill and evil free.