Discourse on National Narrative


School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i- Azam University organized a seminar on “Discourse on National Narrative” on April 25, 2017. Mr. Zafar Ullah Khan, Executive Director, Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) chaired the seminar, whereas Mr. Waheed Hussain, Project Director Media Studies, Bahria University and Dr. Azhar Ahmed, Director Humanities and Social Sciences Bahria University, Islamabad were the main speakers. Dr. Nazir Hussain, Director SPIR, welcomed the august and dwelled upon the national discourse. He highlighted three important milestones; Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s address of 11 August 1947, General Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization and General Pervaiz Musharraf’s Enlightened Moderation, as three distinct discourses on National Narratives. At present, post Zarb-e- Azab, Pakistan is searching for a National Narrative.

Mr. Waheed Hussain while highlighting the fundamentals of “National Narrative” over seven decades of Pakistan’s history after Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s demise, explained that the present phrase is the most confused one. The Address of 11 August, 1947 was a clear narrative for a separate homeland, emphasizing equality, brotherhood and national integration, but the death of the father of the nation and subsequent events, threats from the neighbors and the upcoming rulers, who were more dictators rather than leaders in their running of the country, created constitutional crises and many problems for national integration. All this culminated into lack of actual narrative at the national level. He stressed the need for debates and discussions in all the governmental and research institutions of every sphere with scholars, both academic and religious, to take guidelines from address of 11 August to formulate national narrative. Dr. Azhar Ahmed put limelight on the significance of national integrity and national consensus for building a common national narrative across the nation over vital matters such as Kashmir issue or the War on Terror. Forging national consensus would require hard work on the part of government institutions, academia, intellectuals and intelligencia.

Mr. Zafarullah Khan articulated his version of national narrative. He said that throughout zig-zagged history of Pakistan, many times national consensus was forged and national narrative was built but later destroyed. Pakistan was the first amongst the Muslim states to codify the notion of Sovereignty in its Objective Resolution and this marked the first consensus in Pakistan. Dictatorships then destroyed what the polity had formulated. Federalism, another narrative, was destroyed in the quest for unification and One Unit System. The notion of Provincial Autonomy, a salient feature amongst the 14 Points of Jinnah, was seized from the provinces which culminated into many ethno-centric differences and ultimately dismemberment of Pakistan. Ultimately, it is democracy which unifies the people of Pakistan. Dialogue and conversation is important either to be convinced or to convince.

Concluding the seminar, Dr. Nazir Hussain accentuated the necessity of dialogue and debate so that the silent majority, which is being dominated by the violent minority, could speak up and forge national consensus and national narrative.