Shackles of Inferiority Complex Hinder Pakistan’s Collective Identity – By: Aftab Ali Khan Musa
In a nation where the allure of an unattainable Western ideal has overshadowed its own rich heritage, the notion of unity seems but a distant dream. Pakistan, a land steeped in history, culture, and tradition, stands at a crossroads. The pervasive presence of an inferiority complex has cast a shadow over the collective psyche, manifesting itself in unsettling ways.
It is disheartening that even decades after the British left our shores, the specter of their dominance still haunts us. The desperate clamor for skin-whitening creams on mainstream media serves as a stark reminder of the deeply ingrained insecurities that plague our society. It is as though we have not fully shed the colonial yoke, and we continue to measure our worth through a Eurocentric lens.
One cannot help but notice that many among us have not fully embraced their true heritage; in fact, they seem ashamed of it. This disconnection from our roots is a tragedy, for our history is a tapestry woven with tales of resilience, diversity, and triumph. Our refusal to acknowledge and celebrate this heritage perpetuates a sense of cultural amnesia that only deepens our inferiority complex.
In an era where we should celebrate our own uniqueness, we find ourselves ensnared in the superficial trappings of Western culture. Sitting at dining tables and using cutlery is touted as a sign of sophistication, while our own rich culinary traditions are relegated to the periphery. It is hard to know when the dining table was invented however, silver forks and spoons were invented in Europe during the Dark Ages. The hygiene standards of Europeans were inferior enough to get them tangled in repeated plagues. Physicians; mostly Middle Eastern Muslims or their European Pupils invented silver cutlery to minimize food contamination. The progeny of then-civilized Orientals use cutlery as a status symbol now. Such mimicry is a symptom of ignorance, a fear of knowledge that keeps us imprisoned in a bubble of conformity.
Antonio Gramsci’s astute observation that “knowledge is power” rings particularly true in our context. Our vulnerability to external influences, particularly through media, has reached alarming levels. Hollywood’s shadow looms large, leaving us circling around fast-food chains for tasteless burgers, emblematic of the commodification of culture. If there is a path to liberation from this hegemony of consent, it lies in knowledge, but not just any knowledge – it must be free, purposive, and meaningful. The time has come to reevaluate our educational system, for the MAO model, once lauded, has become obsolete. We must foster critical thinking, creativity, and a deep appreciation for our own culture.
It is disheartening to wonder why we no longer produce philosophers like Ghalib, Ghani, Faiz, or Rabindranath Tagore. We find ourselves caught between the shackles of Western influence and the walls of socio-political and religious dogmas. These institutions, originally designed to liberate, have become instruments of entrapment.
Pakistanis must get on a journey of self-discovery, to revive its unique cultural identity, and to break free from the chains of inferiority. We must celebrate our history, embrace our heritage, and acknowledge the wealth of knowledge and talent within our borders. Only then can we hope to rise above the hegemony of consent and become architects of our own destiny. In this pursuit, unity and knowledge; free and purposive, shall be our guiding lights, leading us toward a brighter, more confident Pakistan.
Aftab Ali Khan Musa
Lecturer International Relations/European History