Culture is a canopy that forms and holds the social behaviour of human societies, encircling the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in humanoid groups. A set of specific standards defined by any culture, in fact, systematises agreeable behaviour in society, so it functions as an implicit instruction for social conduct, dress, language, and demeanour in a situation, which serves as a template for expectations in a social group. Religions, celebrations, rituals, patterns of feasting, an express form of all arts are essential aspects of any human culture. Every human-made culture counts some ideal virtues behaviours for each member of the group, for instance, in any military culture, velour, duty, honour and loyalty are respected thoroughly.

In the 1980s when cultural variances between societies had turned out to be increasingly pertinent for both economic and political reasons, Gerard Hendrik Hofstede a Dutch social psychologist offered a model explicating national cultural differences and their consequences. In 1991 Hofstede published his book “Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind” in which he further correlated his work on national culture with organizational mindset. A unique work of Hofstede is developing cultural dimensions theory. Here he designates national cultures along six dimensions.

The first dimension of the cultural theory is Power Distance. This is the degree to which inequality or distance between those in charge and the less powerful is accepted. The higher the number, the more submissive the masses are. Or one can say that inequality and obedience before power is vividly observed from the followers or lower strata. The second dimension is Individualism versus collectivism – the degree to which action is taken for the benefit of the individual, societies with high Individualism have loose ties among families, whereas on the contrary collectivism describes a community with tightly-integrated relationships. Certainty versus Uncertainty makes the third dimension of the theory. The third dimension means the extent to which people prefer rules, regulations and controls and are intolerable to ambiguity. Societies having a high score for certainty explains stiff codes of behaviour, guidelines, laws, and generally rely on absolute truth or the belief that one lone truth dictates everything and people know what it is. The low score predicts that people are comfortable with unstructured, ambiguous or unpredictable situations. Achievement versus Life Quality is next in order of the theory. The degree to which we focus on goal achievement, heroism, assertiveness and material rewards for success, and on the other flank a preference for cooperation, simplicity, caring for the weak and quality of life. Long Term versus Short Term Orientation is the fifth component of the theory. The theorist expands on this point by pointing out the extent to which members of a society are prepared to adapt themselves to reach a desirable future in contrast to the extent they take their guidance from the past and focus on fulfilling their present needs and desires. Societies with a high degree in this dimension (long-term) view adaptation for transformation, pragmatic problem-solving a necessity. Indulgence versus restraint makes the last component of the theory in hand. It is explained by the tendency to allow relatively free gratification of fundamental human drivers related to enjoying life and having fun, or the conviction that such satisfaction needs to be curbed and regulated by strict social norms.

Looking at Pakistan from the lens of Hofstede’s national cultural dimension survey report and raising some questions might lead us to think to recalibrate our cultural strings that could produce tune of our own national lore. The data gathered from Pakistan for Hofstede’s national culture dimension survey reveals that Pakistan is a distant power society. This means that less powerful members of our society in different institutions accept that power is distributed unequally and masses cannot do anything. The financial and social status or authority of any rank knows no reins, and powerless are not equally treated. Isn’t it the fact we face every day here? Extending a partial treatment to the political elite, special honour to members of civil bureaucracy, offering every remedy to financial giants, are common observations of every Pakistani who has submissively accepted this dichotomy. Does Islam endorse power distant society? If yes go ahead, if not then ponder upon. The survey holds Pakistan as a collectivistic society.

Loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount, and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations; therefore, whatever our political elite do we stand loyal to them. But what is, and what should be the pivotal point we need to gather around? Because a collectivistic approach that is bound to a clan, ethnic or political vicinity will never let us fully embrace the advantages of being a society with collective culture. Pakistan scores high in certainty dimension of the culture, which means we are rigid in our behaviours and intolerant to unusual responses and ideas. With such a norm, how can we be innovators? Pakistan’s national culture is achievement-oriented, which depicts that people want to be the best instead of what they want to be. People desire to be distinguished among the crowd and lose a sense of caring others and happiness as a sign of success. This norm devalues talent recognition and capability alignment. Ordering people to assemble five times a day is a clear message of taking each other’s care, and that is the way of God but isn’t our politicians, educationists, scholars are themselves achievement-oriented?

The national culture survey explains further that Pakistan is a short term oriented society, prefers to maintain time-honoured traditions, status quo and norms while viewing societal change with suspicion. Therefore bridges, roads, unsustainable initiatives and all visual gimmickry justify our political leaders. The long term orientation offers a pragmatic approach and encourages thrift and efforts in modernizing education as a way to prepare for the future. Islam teaches to invest for the afterlife, indirectly supports long term orientation. Pakistan scores extremely low on the dimension of indulgence, which makes her restrained society. How come despondence is highly acceptable to 98% of Pakistanis?

Humanity at a global level is going through fast-track culture change period driven by the expansion of international trade, the mass media, and above all, the human population explosion, among other factors. It is high time to stop floating but to take a deep, insightful dive to recalibrate and reconstruct the cultural concept of our society for pragmatic cultural renaissance.