Think Locally, Act Nationally
“While, one must love one's town and work for its welfare, indeed because of it, one must love one's country and work more devotedly for it. Local attachments have their value but what is the value and strength of a 'part' except within the 'whole'. Yet this is a truth people so easily seem to forget and begin to prize local, sectional or provincial interests above and regardless of the national interests. It naturally pains me to find the curse of provincialism holding sway over any section of Pakistanis.”
- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam
- Speech: Provincialism, A curse
- Context: Speaking with the Quetta municipality
The contagious desire of national unity is rapidly spreading in every corner of the country and is opening up the doors of possibility and imagination in Pakistan. National pride is additive to local attachment and is an effective stimulus to useful and constructive endeavors when channeled the right way.
The quiet chorus of the everyday can drown out the voice of history, calling us to action in the moment for the big future. Our valiant historic freedom struggle that sprang from an unshakable unity demands us to remove any form of provincialism from our body politic. Mr. Jinnah articulated “Now I ask you to get rid of this provincialism, because if you allow this poison to remain in the body politic of Pakistan, believe me, you will never be a strong nation, and you will never be able to achieve what I wish we could achieve. Please do not think that I do not appreciate the position. Very often it becomes a vicious circle. When you speak to a Bengali, he says, 'Yes you are right, but the Punjabi is so arrogant' when you speak to the Punjabi or non-Bengali, he says 'Yes, but these people do not want us here, they want to get us out'. Now this is a vicious cycle, and I do not think anybody can solve this Chinese puzzle. The question is, who is going to be more sensible, more practical, more statesman-like and will be rendering the greatest service to Pakistan? So, make up your mind and from today put an end to this sectionalism.”
Most Pakistanis are heroic in their selfless state of being and willingness to do good for others. This natural instinct to help others is our source of national unity and a wider sense of citizenship to Pakistan and to the world. In this spirit, we must provide strong autonomy to each local province, and the central government should act as a neutral authority for deciding questions involving relations between provinces.
Local autonomy is necessary for national unity, we need to empower Pakistani citizens at the grass roots to build their own future. Local means human scale, a scale on which people can be heard, make a difference, understand the dynamics of power and hold it accountable -- a democratizing impulse.
Pakistanis must think locally, act nationally. National endeavors are in defense of the local -- of local food, local jurisdiction over labor and resources, local production, local culture, local species, domesticated and wild, of the protection of environments that are by definition local. Effectively empowering local communities requires our actions to be nationally networked. Our collective ability to focus on the “whole” will provide ourselves an extraordinary imaginative power to reinvent ourselves. We are at an outpost of our national history, building a new road into the virgin forest of the unknown. All Pakistanis are cooperating in the common task of economic and social progress, and in the interest of such a work the political differences of local communities seem trivial, temporary and futile.
Mr. Jinnah advised the nation that “Pakistan must get rid of this evil. It is a relic of the old administration when you clung to provincial autonomy and local liberty of action to avoid control, which meant British control. But with your own Central Government and its power, it is folly to continue to think in the same terms, especially at a time when your State is so new and faces such tremendous problems internal and external. At this juncture and subordination of the larger interest of the State to the provincial or local or personal interest would be suicidal.”
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