Up until General Ziaul Haq deposed the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto; parties, pressure groups and writers from leftist and other non-orthodox schools of thought were still able to function, operate and raise their voices. The politically decadent decade of Zia sowed the seeds of the ongoing right-wing hegemony in the form of support for sectarian outfits, ethnic politics and an intolerant national narrative. For many years now, any group, party or individual who openly repudiates the narrow-minded definition of patriotism as propounded by the aforementioned state narrative is promptly slapped with the title of traitor or in many cases even blasphemer. Today, we have reached a point where anyone suspected of having a progressive mind-set is thought of as untrustworthy as a citizen of Pakistan. Often, those who don’t subscribe to the state-sponsored ‘truth’ or challenges state policies which promote intolerance, despotic attitudes, anti-peace and anti-progress outcomes — are accused of being leftists or liberals by certain state institutions. These critics are also accused of being on the payroll of the state’s ideological enemies, ranging from Israel to the US to India and now Afghanistan as well. Exaggerated reporting of conspiracies being hatched against Pakistan from US to London to Kabul and Delhi combined with actual atrocities, for instance in Indian occupied Kashmir or in Palestine provide the state with valuable ammunition to discredit any voices questioning its concocted truth. I tried to come up with two lists of so called liberals and the state verified patriots in Pakistan and then tried to see what their claim to fame was. Late Asma Jahangir, IA Rehman, Aisha Siddiqa, Raza Rumi, Farhatullah Babar, and others formed the top of the list for liberals. While among the most patriotic (those who are fully aligned with the state narrative) were individuals such as General Musharraf, Malik Riaz, General Rizwan Akhtar, Maulana Samiul Haq, Sheikh Rasheed, and Sarfaraz Bugti. If for the sake of an objective analysis we can do audit of the actions and deeds of both groups of people, it will not be startling to know who caused most harm to the country. Ours is a country where as much as 59 percent of the population is food insecure and where as many as 25 million children are out of school. Jingoistic patriotism can only do us harm Little do the regressive elements amongst us know that those they so sweepingly dub leftists and liberals in Pakistan are mere rationalists, who know they have to be loyal to the state, its people, and not to its privileged rulers. Being patriotic doesn’t mean you can’t criticise, protest, or mobilise masses against the anti-people policies of the rulers or of the state institutions, which are otherwise regarded as invaluable. But perhaps a part of the problem is also the etymology of patriotism over the centuries. We get the word patriot from the Roman civilization, with its relation to terms such as ‘patrius’, which hint at the idea of fatherland, city, native, or familiar place. For having subtle affinity with property, authority, and status, we also have the word patriarch. Keeping this as a basis, for instance, in the Roman aristocratic class, who possessed wealth and dominated the Roman polity, it was their property that entitled them wide-ranging political influence. This was also connected to the original use of the similar terms patron and patronage. Hence, in early Roman polity, and in later ages, loyalty to kin in politics ensured socio-political and economic survival and success. However, Roman thinkers and writers, such as Cicero, saw a wider ‘patrius’ in the form ‘respublica’ (literally meaning ‘about people’). This point forward idea transcended from being loyal to the patriarch or ruler to an abstract entity like the republic, which is created from the will of the people. This is precisely where liberals and pro-democratic groups stand while our state institutions have a view point of an insecure patriarch. They see the state as a means for the people’s welfare and not vice versa. This demands them to stand for fundamental rights and welfare of the citizens before anything else, for it is the people who are central to the purpose and idea of state. Consequently, we find them agitating against discriminatory laws and policies that lead to the persecution of religious minorities as we see in the case of Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians. Ethnic groups such as the Baloch and Pakhtuns also need to be mentioned here. Unlike the hyper patriots and right wing groups who flourish on jingoism and intolerance, the liberal elements of the society preach for peace and co-existence within and outside the country. Ours is a country where as much as 59 percent of the population is food insecure and where as many as 25 million children are out of school. Jingoistic patriotism can only do us harm. It’s high time we learnt the value of dissent and diversity. The writer is a sociologist with interest in history and politics. He tweets @ZulfiRao1 Published in Daily Times, April 19th 2018.