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Cost of Denialism

Disenfranchisement of a political party is synonymous to dispossessing your own people of their constitutional freedom to express their political inclination… and quite literally, orphaning them, the same way that the Bengalis in East Pakistan were orphaned and discarded.

By Muhammad Arslan Qadeer | May 2023

Theoretically, in the psychology of human behaviour, Denialism is a person’s choice to deny reality as a way to negate uncomfortable truths. Denialism is an essentially irrational action that withholds the validation of a historical experience or event when a person refuses to accept an empirically verifiable reality.

I find it ironic how this psychological discourse so befittingly defines the contemporary condition that we as a nation are confronting. As a nation, most of the time, we are all in denial. A perpetual illusion that we have carved of our own persists large as part of our collective conscience in a whole new way, through which we have improvised the technique of viewing the world the way we deem fit. Denial seems to be the all-encompassing panacea to the prevalent problems befalling us as a country, as individuals, as nation.

In the words of Sigmund Freud, no one wants to be accused of being “in denial”, and labelling people as denialists seems to compound insult, for it implies that they have taken the private sickness of denial and turned it into public dogma. Yes – a dogma. We do not anymore require to be part of an interest group, or a cult, or a political wing to behave in this manner because the very edifice upon which the entire structure of our society rests is naturally surrounded by this plague-like dogma. It is indeed a matter of pity that we as people are too good when it comes to analysing other countries, other cultures, other faiths.

We seem to have perfect understanding around how nations rebuilt themselves after having been completely decimated. Even our quintessential street hawker and rickshaw driver on the street will quote examples of Germany, Japan, and South Korea on how these countries reversed the odds to their advantage and emerged as developed nations. They will describe how following the most ignominious defeat in the history of the world, Germany reconstructed and pivoted itself towards becoming one of the most developed countries within a span of just three decades. They will tell you how Japan —the only country to ever suffer from the catastrophe of atom bombs pulverizing it through and through— got back on its feet, and in such a way that today Japan, in terms of economy and industry is amongst the eight biggest countries of the world.

When it comes to revisiting the pages of our own history, a huge percentage of our social calendar including the educated and the elite amongst us, opine that “such incidents” are now no more worth remembering. To them, it is tantamount to wastage of time only. Instead of soul-searching, and culling relevant lessons from our past, we are still engaged in the futile exercise of finding excuses on one pretext or another.

The 1969 mass uprising in the then East Pakistan.

The dilemma of 1971 is the gravest, singular incident that resulted in the cessation of this country. This was a defeat cum failure that, in spirit, crippled us and has stamped an indelible scar upon the canvas of our existence. We still seem to be deluded in utter confusion debating on whether was it 34,000 soldiers or 90,000? Instead of drawing inference from what history has to teach us, we even have the gall to keep bickering around whether the defeat was due to a political failure, or a military one? As if these two are associated with two separate countries.

We seem to be perennially engaged in inventing an argot of sorts that renders the entire event looking like an international saazish, to which we are the poor victims. Using colloquial lexicon, and pieces of scattered information to our advantage, we seem to be enthralled in a collective endeavour to reclothe the biggest disaster; a collective national failure that resulted in the country snagging in two. Indeed a strange way of dealing with what historically presents a perfect ‘truth’ into something that we want to believe in; “I am a skilled ship captain of a great ship that can never sink…” knowing fully that the engine of my ship doesn’t crank at all. By turning a blind eye towards our mistakes, follies, and shortcomings, who are we trying to hoodwink?

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2 thoughts on “Cost of Denialism

  • May 2, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    it was always interested to read articles from Col Arslan sb who always bring the realities on the front

  • June 11, 2023 at 5:21 am

    Very well reflected the past unfortunate mistakes & not learning yet from the sad history.

    The article has a depth for those who would like to learn.

    Very Well analyzed past & present 👍