When British invaded India and soon started ruling the subcontinent completely, the cultural influence from both sides came into play right away. Obviously, Brits got the upper hand as they had power and they used it immensely.
Official language was changed from Persian to English overnight and linguistic heroes of yesterday turned into nobodies as they got up next day. Cricket, a game born in England, is used as a tool by Indians to get closer to their British masters as they seek official positions. On the other hand, words like “loot” made their way to English dictionary explaining the magnitude of ransacking that previously used word “plunder” can’t highlight. These are just a few examples of what happens when people from different cultures live together, even if they are divided as masters and slaves.
Fast forward to 2017 and we have CPEC on our hands. Chinese presence in Pakistan is on the rise and you need nothing more than a local flight from Karachi to Islamabad to identify that. With details coming out slowly about CPEC; it’s becoming quite clear that it may result in a demographic change. Regulations are formulated in such a way that most of the population flow will be from China to Pakistan and not the otherwise. The question is, has anybody bothered to study the cultural effect it may have?
Right from the word go, CPEC is being presented as a “game changer”, and, any details related to this project are shared with public purely on economic grounds without giving even a hint of cultural problems it may offer. Am I undermining CPEC? No; Am I claiming that CPEC will destroy the cultural norms in Pakistan? Absolutely Not; but the way this mega-project is studied, explained and discussed draws a lots of concerns for me. It seems that there is no cultural dimension to it and we will have all the economic benefits living happily with Chinese in our streets and neighborhoods without any problem whatsoever.
Those who have lived in China or have direct interaction with Chinese can confirm one thing without disagreement; Chinese are neither good nor bad, however, they are different from us on almost all grounds. Their cuisine, eating habits, family dynamics, language, norms, unwritten social regulations, etc. have nothing in common with ours. Please don’t get started about how bad we are, I am just saying that they are different from us, completely and entirely.
CPEC may be a very “happy thing” for now but its long lasting impacts on society must be brought into consideration. The way its economic and financial aspects are being scrutinized by media, there should also be some report about the cultural challenges that we may encounter. This way, the fear of China colonizing Pakistan as part of its OBOR (One Belt One Road) project can be refuted in length. Hiding details and presenting incomplete reports that highlight only financial aspects are not going to clear the air; rather it will add more clumsiness to it.
Recent stance of China in North Korea – USA feud clearly shows Chinese influence in the region where it is using North Korea to cement its place as the regional superpower that can even threat the police of the world aka USA. Chinese ambitions are way clearer than a decade ago and we need to play smarter to keep our advantage. Otherwise, Chinese won’t mind to have their own version of East India Company. Question is, do we mind it?”