Originally Published on Balochistan Voices: Stereotyping: A Social Evil
Stereotypes exists where ever you go in the world. Some are local and some are global. What stereotypes does is that they create false impression that undermine social progress. And if you are living in Pakistan, you surely have to battle with numerous stereotypes.
What is Stereotyping?
Well, stereotyping is an idea, usually a false one set as standard or as an example about a nation, community, gender and even about a state or a province.
It has been a couple of years since I moved from one province to another in Pakistan and I still get bullied by the tainted beliefs of the people about where I’m from. There are a number of stereotypes floating around about a Province in general and about ethnicity and culture in specific. I won’t lie but at times it’s very hard for one to get away with the hackneyed phrases used for one’s community and culture. The most common stereotypes I have come around in the recent years proved to be shocking for me. For example it is a common concept that Pashtuns have no manners, they are uncivilized because they are tribal, they are narrow minded, violent and the most sponsored one is that Pashtuns are terrorists. And we all know about Pathan jokes in which they are seen as loud and incompetent fools.
Looking at Pakistan’s cultural map we have various ethnic categories like Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis, Balochis, Kashmiris, Muhajirs and people who don’t fit in these classes but are Pakistanis.
It is not only the Pashtuns are the victims but Baloch too face the misery of false stereotyping. If you are studying at a college in Punjab, then you should have no problem in understanding that why the people of that province have biased notions about Balochs and the people of Baluchistan because the sociology books in Punjab have tagged Baloch as being uncivilized people who remain busy in fighting and killing. Stereotyping is not confined to a single province alone. I have heard a lot of things about Punjabis, Sindhis too. There is a thought related to Punjabis that they are very loud people and there loudness is not liked by the people in Karachi.
I have Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashtun, and Baloch friends and none of those stereotypes come even close to them. We must believe that every province and every culture has its own taste and values. If Pashtuns are thought-out as ill-mannered and violent which is not true, then they should also be thought as polite and cordial. If one studied Balochs as being uncivilized, we have studied them as courteous. If one thinks that Punjabis are loud, then we are taught that they are “Khulay Dil Waley” as well.
Stereotyping was an approach the British used to govern the parts of the empire that now constitute Pakistan. The simple but brainy formula they used say “Rule the Punjabis, frighten the Sindhis, buy the Pashtun, and honor the Baloch. They used it to serve their desire of social control of these ethnic groups.
People access cultures in a way they are familiar and with which they have had gain in past. Thus individual appearances of ones’ social life give rise to generalization of societies and cultures. Hence then those half-truths are exaggerated and even assisted as the inherent characteristics which then become the social identity of those societies.
The need of the day is that we must stop stereotyping, because every false and disrespecting perception stand as a barrier between inter-ethnic relations in Pakistan. Stereotyping should not be used for the categorization and division of cultures and societies. We must get rid of these prejudices and teach our young generation how to respect those who have different caste, language, religion and national identity. The hate for stereotyping is remarkable but much is needed to be done and it’s never too late to take a step.