Farah Adeed |
I still remember my M.Phil. A class where I was supposed to go through many articles, books, and reports, and to prepare power-point presentations. It was interesting, and in South Asian context perhaps nothing less than a blessing, to have an American graduate as our instructor. He trained us to scientifically analyze political phenomena and trace out the causes of any event which takes place in a complex socio-political context.
It was our second last class when I asked my professor to let me know about some fundamental concepts like what is development? What is progress and how do we conceptualize it? What is modernity? Who is modern and who is not? Who will determine the standards of development and modernity? Since we were being taught about political development, modernization and something about ‘developed’ and ‘under-developing’ states. I was curious to understand the basic definitions or criteria of what I have outlined above.
This reflects the essence of knowledge in the social science where it is used as an instrument to achieve what is outlined earlier. Knowledge is not all about understanding, it is also about ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ of individuals and societies.
My professor tried his level best to answer my questions. But his reliance on western theories and positivist tradition did not prove ‘satisfactory’, at least in my case. I was always uncomfortable to agree with him that the concepts have universal application because they are developed after following a scientific method. Admittedly, social science is not an exact science. As a matter of fact, social science always operates in a social setting which is dynamic and complex to a great extent. Politics further complicate it and makes it look so odd.
Moreover, knowledge does not evolve in a vacuum rather it originates from and develops in, a particularity society which has certain social norms and cultural values. Knowledge in social science is evaluated on the basis of its utility. This reflects the essence of knowledge in the social science where it is used as an instrument to achieve what is outlined earlier. Knowledge is not all about understanding, it is also about ‘change’ and ‘transformation’ of individuals and societies.
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Western society evolved in a particular historical context. It has its own goals, values, and norms. To achieve those goals, the western society has developed its own tools and norms. For instance, for western societies, the objective of progress is to give maximum freedom to the individual. Scholars and political workers have made their utmost efforts to advance unique ways to ensure the progress of the western society while keeping into consideration their ultimate objective. Marxist understanding of the phenomena that this so-called struggle for liberty is essentially a tool of capitalism to exploit the masses, is not in the scope of this essay.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is a confused group of people. We have a separate history, civilization, and cultural orientation but, unfortunately, do not know much about it. There is a role of Islam in our society and the majority of people strictly believes that it is ‘the complete code of life’. The intention of our forefathers was to establish a society based upon the ideal principles of Islamic theory which ensures a social setting where every individual has all the available facilities to express his or her individual potentials without any fear.
When I watched Imran Khan during his maiden speech after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I listened to him very carefully. I listened to what he said in the first part of his speech thrice.
The establishment of a just society is for the individual expression of every individual living in that particular society. Ideally speaking, this is or should have been, the goal of Pakistani and other Muslim societies across the world. But owing to the prevailing confusions and uncertainties, under the umbrella of modernity and progress we have forgotten the ultimate goals of our societies. Now we were following the western societies and trying to achieve their goals. This creates confusion and brings progress without a soul. Interestingly, a soulless progress can never be long-lasting.
Take our example, our youth is not sure what it means to be a modern man or woman? Does the transformation of a Pakistani, and perhaps a Muslim, into an English speaking westernized liberal mean modernity or progress? When I watched Imran Khan during his maiden speech after becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. I listened to him very carefully. I listened to what he said in the first part of his speech thrice. It helped me understand the questions and points I had raised during my M.Phil. Class.
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As a researcher, it is my habit to explore the unexplored. Afterward, I listened to several speeches of Imran Khan where he talked about the ideological basis of his state. Then I came across an article of Mr. Khan which he wrote almost 16 years ago for The Arab News. The first paragraph is very interesting and reflective of what the author is going to discuss below. “My generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak. Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the British. The school I went to was similar to all elite schools in Pakistan.
Despite gaining independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of public schoolboys rather than Pakistanis,” Imran Khan wrote 16 years ago. Then I watched his video clip where he is urging young students to always be Pakistanis, stay in the country, never try to copy “Angraiz” and do not compromise on your principles. Imran Khan believes that we have our own social goals and we also need to determine our own ways to achieve them.
Mr. Khan has highlighted our civilizational distinctiveness, social goals and ways to achieve them. This is what is going to make Pakistan a country of a confident, strong and culturally rich nation.
Mr. Khan is someone who is in the pure sociological sense helping our younger generation to understand their history and distinctiveness identity so that they become useful individuals, not confused liberals who can neither be Americans nor Pakistanis. Essentially, Khan is trying to determine what it means to be a Pakistani. He is giving identity to his people so that nobody follows the west and gets drowned into the seas of confusion and ignorance.
If the social/collective goals are clear none of us will be confused to define modernity and progress. Every step towards the achievement of a set-goal is progress. And, those who practice and follow those ideal social values are modernized individuals of that particular society. For example, individual freedom is the social goal of the western society then anyone practicing those values which bring them closer to their collective social goal is modern and progressive. In the case of Imran Khan’s Pakistan, there remains no ambiguity to define modernization and progress at the moment of our history.
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Imran Khan is my leader not for his political struggle but for his vision and philosophical understanding of some of the very complex issues. Mr. Khan has highlighted our civilizational distinctiveness, social goals and ways to achieve them. This is what is going to make Pakistan a country of a confident, strong and culturally rich nation.
Farah Adeed is a Senior Research Analyst in GVS. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s Editorial Policy.