Nationalism played a vital role in the making of history and shaping today's modern world, particularly the piece of land where we live today. Pakistan was once a part of the Indian subcontinent; however since Partition many attempts have been made to erase the shared past of the region under the banner of Pakistan's Islamic nationalism, which is of no use and continues to be irrelevant.

Nationalism is a debatable idea. It is believed that with the rise of nationalism in Europe in 17th century, colonialism and imperialism ensued. As capitalism emerged, powerful empires oppressed the weaker humans, usurped their lands and looted their resources, all in the name of the nationalism and national interest introduced by the then colonial powers.

Nationalism's positive and negative impacts can be discussed some other day, but today we need to redefine what nationalism actually is, and what kind of nationalism can work for us.

It's a reality that we live in an ideological nation state. We need to put its outmoded ideology to one side and focus on its menacing impact.

Nationalism isn’t based on a single identity. It is a bond to unite several ethnic and religious groups of the people. And by trying to bring back an irrelevant past to fit it into the present and future is utopian foolishness.

Unfortunately Pakistan's nationalism traces its roots back to the mirages of Muslim supremacy, based on the invasions of plunderers and looters like Muhammad Bin Qasim and Mahmoud of Ghazni. Pakistani students hardly know anything about the Mughal Empire except that Akbar was a ‘murtid’ (apostate) and Aurangzeb was a ‘true hero’ for them. Thanks to the state sponsored distorted history, Pakistani nationalism has been reduced to communalism.

Our textbooks not only downgrade Hindus, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Parsis and Ahmadis but also maintain a false impression of Muslims being superior to others. This idea of downgrading religious minorities is a product of Islamic nationalism. And it does not stop here but it even targets ethnic minorities too when merged with an artificial idea of Pakistani nationalism called the "nationalism of the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent". However, this form of nationalism was rejected by the majority Muslims of the Indian subcontinent and those who had endorsed it now regret their decision, particularly Ahmadis and Shias.

After the partition of Indian subcontinent in 1947, Pakistan opted for the policy of exclusive nationalism; incidentally the same form of nationalism that Hitler's Nazi Party followed by killing the Jews in the name of the purity of the Aryan race.

Pakistan had already endorsed the colonial policy of Two Nation Theory introduced by British Raj to divide and conquer the Indian subcontinent. After the creation of the artificial ideological nation state of Pakistan, Bengalis were first targeted by the policy of exclusive nationalism and this resulted in the Fall of Dhaka. Then Balochs were victimised by the Pakistan's policy of exclusive nationalism, then Ahmadis, then Karachi's mohajirs (those who left India and migrated to Pakistan in the search of the Muslim identity where they can live in peace) and the list of persecution goes on.

Today, what we need as a nation is an inclusive form of nationalism, considering how scattered we people are. We need it for our survival. We need something like African nationalism, called Negritude, which unites the people of the same origin from Africa, Caribbean and North America.

Inclusive nationalism can not only help Pakistan but India as well, in bringing peace and stability in the region. Cultures don't grow in isolation, and we're the offspring of the same civilization. Instead of celebrating the communalism in the form of wars of 1965 and 1971, why don't we commemorate the shared past of 1919's Jallianwala Bagh massacre and 1857's War of Independence? We need to coexist and learn from our past mistakes. We need shared history of the people of Indian subcontinent glorifying Bhagat Singh, Tipu Sultan and Lakhmi Bai, not those who had ignited the flames of hatred amongst the humans of the same land and origin.

If we don't hate those who had colonised us than why do we hate each other? Didn't we coexist together for 1000 years? Nationalism draws on reliable history not on anyone's fantasy and supremacy. It needs critical inquiry and what we need as a solution is a form of nationalism which should be drawn on a reliable history with a shared past of the region to become a tolerant, peaceful, egalitarian and a secular nation and society abandoning the radical religious and communal elements.

This is not a single night's revolutionary dream but an evolutionary process. It needs concrete measures and serious steps to start and take place from the grass root level. It's never too late to think and start working on it.