Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ethnicity in Pakistan

Overview of Ethnicity in Pakistan

The battle for equality and recognition by an ethnic group is an old and recurring phenomenon. If this struggle gathers momentum, it develops into an ethnic conflict. Baluchis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Seraikis, Muhajirs and Chitralis are the main ethnic groups of Pakistan. Since the emergence of Pakistan on world’s map, the country has had ethnic and linguistic differences among its people, and ethnicity in Pakistan has existed since it's very inception.


Ethnicity refers to a group of people who have their own-shared common characteristics that distinguish them from most other people in the same society. Biological characteristics that play a part in racial differences may be visible in an ethnic group, but these characteristics do not form a criterion for defining an ethnic group. It is a population whose members identify with each other on the basis of a real or presumed common ancestry. No one has control over at their ethnicity. It relates to your race as well: Asian, African-American, Caucasian or European, Hispanic etc. 

Behavioral ethnicity includes the learning of values, belief, behavioral norms, languages or distinctive dialect, by the member of ethnic category during the process of socialization. They use these social values as their basic interaction manifestation. 

Difference between Race and Ethnicity

Ethnicity is different than race. Race is the classification of people based on physical or biological characteristics sharing different ethnic values. Ethnicity incorporates language, religion, demarcation of territory and other cultural traits including historical, political and geographical origins. According to the survey conducted, when asked if one considered oneself associated to any ethnic group, 72% people in some way associated themselves to an Ethnic group. 

Ethnic Differences and Ethnic Conflicts

Changes in people’s affinity with any of them may occur over time. Ethnic differences among people whether physical or cultural, exist as part of human experience. The recognition of these diversities may be intensified as contacts between two groups grow. Ethnic distinctiveness invokes an innate sense of people-hood. 

In many cases some groups gain privileges over others on the basis of their ethnic differences. The primary simulators of the ethnic differences are often economic, social or political power. The cultural differences referred to in ethnic interaction cannot always be reduced without a loss of analytic comprehension. Since one of the main insights from formalist studies of ethnicity is that culture cannot be treated as a fixed and bound system of signs. 

Ethnic differences are inevitably linked to violence on a grand scale. The assumption that because conflicts are often ethnic, ethnicity must breed conflict is a huge mistake. But at some instances, ethnic diversities do lead to violence and conflicts. One of the most common cause of the ethnic conflicts is, people prefer members of their own group and have active antipathy towards out-group members making conflicts the inevitable result. If the antipathies due to ethnic diversities are so deep that they cannot be resolved, then separation is the only workable solution left.

Ethnic Conflicts in Pakistan

Different ethnic groups can reside in one nation peacefully if there is less discrimination and despising, but if the struggle to win ethnic rights is constantly hampered, it transforms into a movement for an independent nation. In a country like Pakistan, where economical and political instability prevails, ethnic differences augment with a ferocious pace and the consequences can be dreadful, thus preventing measures must always be taken to reduce these conflicts. History concurs with this notion as ethnic differences comprising of economical and military disparities and language controversy lead to a war in 1971 between East and West Pakistan. It resulted in separation of East Pakistan which became Bangladesh. Urdu-Bengali conflict was one of the primary factors which gave birth to Bengali National Movement.
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