National cohesion – 19 Nov 2022

Almost all nations face a series of challenges and difficulties. And while such situations may appear insurmountable, if tackled skilfully, they can be managed successfully. Nations which handle such challenges with a lacklustre approach often fail to overcome them and lag behind.

The most important aspect in handling such scenarios is to identify the problem and then look for the right solution. It is worth mentioning that a country’s challenges and problems are not only physical in nature like a threat from an enemy country, devastation by natural calamities and pandemics etc. When a country is unable to keep pace with developments and advancements in the world, it is said to be under an existential threat.

Pakistan has been facing a plethora of challenges for quite some time. Unfortunately, we seem trapped in a succession of domestic and international issues that pose a threat to our national security every now and then. It was only recently that Pakistan found itself on the edge of war with India in 2019, trapped in a long drawn wave of terrorism and had to deal with restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, devastation caused by the floods, and feeble economic health. But somehow Pakistan has consistently managed to steer out of the crisis.

Have we ever wondered what helped Pakistan come out of difficult situations? Whenever we faced challenges, it was our national cohesion which acted as a shield to protect against the never-ending crisis. Every difficulty brought the entire nation closer – on the proverbial one page. This made an iron fist of all government resources backed by the people. Be it terrorism, Indian threats, the pandemic, natural calamities or economic frailty, we stood together and fought back.

Today we face the challenges of exponential development in cyber technology including hybrid or fifth generation warfare, and Pakistan is lagging behind the rest of countries. Without stressing upon the broad contours of this development, it should be noted that this advancement is taking place in all aspects of our lives. And if we don’t take heed of the situation now, we will lag behind.

Despite being aware of the looming challenges, we are still not together. It is true that national cohesion is stirred when any difficulty arises; yet the nation needs to be ready. Government organizations, all pillars of the state’s national security, political institutions and society should have the requisite strengths available to handle it. However if there is discord among them, the challenge starts getting out of control.

The domestic environment in our country has been turbulent for the past few months, leading to never-seen-before polarization, protests, and baseless accusations hurled at state institutions. All of this sows discord between the people and the government. While it is easy to create such distrust in any country, we need to understand that it has repercussions for the entire nation in the future.

Our history suggests that we tackled challenging situations through standing together. It will not be an overstatement to point out that during such challenges, the Pakistan armed forces have always played an important role in bringing the country out of turmoil. It has been because of their inherent capacity and the unflinching public support that our armed forces have always successfully tackled difficult situations. Their role in the ‘war on terror’ has been exceptional. Not only did the Pakistan Army sacrifice the lives of its brave solvers, it also played a critical role in the rehabilitation of the displaced – and of those terrorists who surrendered.

Another big task that the army has performed is the fencing of the Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders. Also the Pakistan Army worked closely with the government to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, rescue work after natural calamities, FATF compliance and economic revival.

If an institution that has been our mainstay in difficult times is weakened, how will Pakistan tackle any future challenges?. It is time our political leaders realized the severity of the situation and refrained from dragging state institutions into political discourse.

Instead of tarnishing their image it will be prudent to keep them out of the political blame game. We must not forget that only national cohesion can make us rise to the occasion whenever it is demanded by the trials we are going to be confronted with.

The writer is a communications strategist at the Institute of Regional Studies and can be reached at:

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