Can Pakistan’s progress be stifled by colonial mentality?

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Colonization refers to the occupation and direct rule over the population of another state by one state. As for Pakistan, pre-1947 was the time when it was under British rule. When the Mughal Empire declined, the British gained control over this region with the intention of creating new markets, investment opportunities, and imperial ambitions. The Muslims’ suppression in the subcontinent increased over time, forcing them to rebel against the hegemonic British rule, and to get a separate homeland. It was through this process that Pakistan was able to achieve constitutional independence from British imperial rule. A colonial mentality refers to the mindset of Pakistanis that remains influenced by the British, despite the British evacuated the region.
Today’s generation is not heir to colonialism’s legacy. People in this generation have no idea what life was like under British rule. In most cases, people from such an era have retired from their public service, and they are not providing their services any longer. Thus, it can be said that most of the high offices do not have a colonial mentality instilled in them. Since colonial rule ended 70 years ago, the legacy has not been carried forward to 2022, so it would not be the reason that hinders Pakistan’s progress.
Before acquiring this piece of land, the founding fathers of Pakistan knew the administrative system that would be used in the state would not be a new invention, but the same system used by the British. To understand this argument, the example that can be quoted here is the process of buying a new car. Before purchasing a car, a person will inquire about all of its features, such as its speed limit, mileage coverage, price, color, etcetera, and he will only buy the car if that car has the features he is looking for. With regard to the getting separate homeland for Pakistan, the situation is similar. Pakistan’s founding fathers had already defined a very well known administrative system of a new home. Government of Pakistan inherited from the British administrative groups like district management, police, railways, postal, and water-canal systems.
A country cannot be blamed for its slow progress by criticizing a few administrative units in its system, for example, the Pakistan Administrative Service and Police Services of Pakistan. Also, the people working in these administrative groups now are not of colonial origin. The thinking of the British of that period no longer bothers the current generation. Nor do they know the taste of colonialism; rather it can be better felt and known by the people of those times who lived and collaborated with British masters of that arena. It can therefore be said that it is not the colonial mentality that has held the country back, rather the hurdle it has faced to enter the path of progress is something else, and a serious investigation needs to be conducted to determine the reason for such a hindrance.
The discussion brings the reader to the next question: is the mental orientation (mentality) strong enough to impede Pakistan’s progress? The argument is self-defeating as mentality does not impede any progress. Should the entire system be destroyed if colonial mentality is the problem? Realistically, mentality does not affect progress because reality is different. Bangladesh got separated even if that was the issue. According to history, West Pakistan oppressed Bangladesh’s population in almost every sphere as the British oppressed the subcontinent’s people during colonial rule. However, today’s reality differs. In order to excel on social, political and economic grounds, the current generation must adopt the same mindset because the British are still ahead of Pakistani society.
We need to understand that if colonial mentality is preventing progress, it would not be bad to have the same mindset to get the country on its way to success. Today, colonialism cannot even exist in the present generation, so how can it impede progress?
Social constructs lead Pakistani people to believe they are mentally slaves to the British, hence their desire to learn English. However, the fact is English is not a colonial language, but an international language. The ability to communicate in English facilitates the exchange of ideas in the competitive global world, so understanding this language is essential. English is now being learned by even the most developed countries like Germany and China. For example, the rise of digitization has made freelancing one of the most common ways to make money.
Through online platforms, people are earning by providing their services to clients, and in some ways they are also contributing to country’s economic growth. How can sellers and buyers on these platforms even communicate in a language other than English? In other words, learning and speaking English cannot halt Pakistan’s progress; rather, it is necessary to promote and learn English.
The discussion brings the reader to another aspect of the matter, that if colonial mentality impedes the progress of a country, then where does the solution lie?
The solution lies in accepting the system boldly. First, it should be acknowledged that the whole system cannot be rejected, as Pakistan is based on such a system which is inherited by the British. The system cannot be undone and replaced. The current trend of devolution of power demonstrates how hard it is to establish new administrative units. The resources and circumstances do not allow for criticism of the system. The problem is not the existence of the Governor House, the problem lies with the ones who are residing in it. People in high positions should realize the importance of their job in contributing to the betterment of the country, as undoubtedly lots of sacrifices have been made.
Additionally, this blame game that colonialism is impeding the country’s progress needs to end here because it has been 70 years since colonialism ended.
Finally, we need to deconstruct the idea that English is a colonial language. In sum, the argument that colonial mentality is a hindrance to Pakistan’s development is just another attempt to avoid the reality of failures.