Pakistan has an unconditionally rich history of producing intellectuals and critical thinkers, who have contributed significantly to the country’s development and progress. However, in recent years, there has been a gradual decline in critical thinking in Pakistan, which is a matter of great concern.
The demise of critical thinkers in Pakistan is a multifaceted problem that has several causes. Before digging deep enough into the causes, I would explain what critical thinking is: The ability to critically analyse and assess data, claims, and arguments in order to reach informed conclusions or judgements is known as critical thinking. It entails challenging presumptions, taking into account other viewpoints, and determining the accuracy and relevance of the evidence.
One of the main outstanding reasons for the demise of critical thinkers in Pakistan is the quality of the education system. The education system in Pakistan is outdated, and it does not encourage critical and rational thinking, which is a significant factor in building one’s successful future.
The focus is primarily on rote learning, memorization, and regurgitation of information. As a result, students are not taught how to analyze information, think critically, and come up with substantiated and logical conclusions. Dissent and rational thinking are no longer encouraged in universities, colleges and schools. This lack of critical thinking skills is evident in various spheres of life in Pakistan, including politics, media, and business.
Another factor leading to the demise of critical thinkers in Pakistan is the lack of intellectual discourse. There is a prevalent culture of intolerance towards divergent views and ideas, and this is particularly evident on social media platforms. People who express their views on various issues are often subjected to trolling, abuse, and even threats of violence. This culture of intolerance discourages critical thinking, as people become reluctant to express their opinions and ideas for fear of being targeted or being mocked.
The media also plays a pivotal role in moulding public opinion and promoting cognitive thought processes. However, the media landscape in Pakistan is highly polarized, and the majority of the media outlets are biased towards a particular political party or ideology. This bias is sheer apparent in the coverage of news and events, where information is often distorted or manipulated to suit a particular narrative. Accordingly, people are not exposed to differing viewpoints, and critical thinking is discouraged to a greater extent.
Furthermore, the political environment in Pakistan is also a major contributor to the dwindling scope of critical thinking. Political parties often resort to populist rhetoric, making false and impetuous promises and presenting simplistic solutions to complex problems, which render unresolved, creating more woes for the masses. This style of politics does not encourage critical thinking or wise decision-making.
Moreover, political parties often use propaganda and misinformation to influence public opinion, which further undermines critical thinking. In addition, there is a general lack of appreciation and plaudits for intellectual pursuits and critical thinking in Pakistan. Intellectuals and critical thinkers are often exceedingly marginalized and considered irrelevant or labelled as “psycho”.
The education system, the media, and the political culture, all conduce to this marginalization. Hence, there is too little incentive for people to pursue intellectual pursuits, and critical thinking is not valued.
The demise of critical thinkers in Pakistan has far-reaching consequences. It has resulted in a lack of innovation, creativity, poor decision-making, and paucity of progress in various spheres. The absence of critical thinking has also contributed to the perpetuation of social and economic inequalities, as people are less equipped to analyze and challenge the status quo.
To tackle this problem, there is an acute need for concerted efforts by all stakeholders. The reforms must be brought into the education system, with a greater emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills.
The media needs to be more objective and unbiased and diverse viewpoints should be encouraged. The political culture must be revolutionized, with politicians promoting informed decision-making and engaging in constructive and fruitful debate. Finally, there needs to be greater appreciation for intellectual pursuits and critical thinking, with the media and the public recognizing the contributions of intellectuals and critical thinkers.
To conclude, the demise of critical thinkers in Pakistan is a daunting challenge that requires urgent attention. The education system, the media, the political culture, and the public all have an essential role to play in coping with this problem.
By promoting critical thinking and intellectual pursuits, Pakistan can overcome the challenges it faces and move towards a brighter future. It can head towards catastrophic front, if it’s too late.