Pakistan’s search for identity has been under contestation since its inception. From the succession of East Pakistan to form Bangladesh to the ongoing ethnic marginalization and stereotyping: the diverse socio-cultural fabric has been not been tainted, but is actively being torn away. The absence of platforms for conversation and education has further instigated ignorance and transitioned Pakistan into a state of constant bigotry, bias, prejudice and even violence. Time and time again the movements targeting ethnic diversity and heritage preservation have failed due to the nation’s inability to participate in active discourse. The search for one collective identity has not only led to the homogenization of the narratives, but has also created a hegemony that does not allow the “other” groups to exist harmoniously in the society. The systematic killings of Hazaras, stereotyping Pathans, marginalization of Sindhis and the Baloch, labeling Punjabis as uneducated along with normalizing hate speech against various ethnic and religious minorities has created unsolicited differences and conflicts. Furthermore, the violence instigated by social and political systems has led to inequalities and grievances with no alternate forums of peaceful expressions. Hence, in times where voices are being silenced and ideas being imprisoned; the nation is in a dire need of a conversation.
A conversation on celebrating diversity, while reconciling ethnic identities, and putting an end to discrimination on the basis of religion: that is what the nation of Pakistan needs in order to escape this escalating turmoil.
An initiative to actively provide a platform for discourse and address the ethnic strife in Pakistan is being taken by few students of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). ProjectKIN (Knowledge, Identity, and Nation) is social media campaign aimed to counter hate speech against ethnic minorities, and celebrate the differences that truly defines and enriches the fabric of Pakistan. The aim is to put an end to stereotyping and stand against violence instigated by dominate groups against the misrepresented and marginalized groups. Since its inception, the campaign has not only published over 200 stories on their Facebook page about people who have not witnessed ethnic discrimination but have also been victimized due to its prevalence. The team recently undertook a photojournalistic approach and travelled up north to gather stories about the communities being socially and politically disregarded. Moreover, the campaign realizes the importance of empowering its youth, and under its campus ambassadorship program, the campaign recruits and trains youth who can further spread the message of harmony and peace. Lastly, the campaign’s weekly series of podcasts mostly revolves around the role of pop culture, literature, and music in creating identity while promoting an inclusive society.
The promotion of pluralistic traditions and inclusion of ethnic minorities into mainstream society is a way forward to put an end to separatism, and to provide these people the rights they have been denied over decades. The education on principles of harmony and celebrating diversity in terms of language, food, music and culture as a whole can eliminate exclusionary behavior manifested in the nation’s fundamentals, and can create space for positive interaction.