Like nationality the term “nation” is also derived from the common word “Natus” which commonly connotes the idea of birth or race. A number of definitions of the term “nation” have been given by various political thinkers. Here we quote a few of them.
Adhering to the etymological meaning Burgess defines a nation as “a population of an ethnic unity, inhabiting a territory of a geographical unity”.” By ethnic unity he means, “a population having common language and literature, a common custom and common consciousness of right and wrong”.
His definition has been criticised by Holcombe and others on the ground that a nation has not been regarded as an ethnic group either in traditional usage or in Political Science. Some writers have criticised Burgess on the ground that ethnic unity is not compulsory for nationality.
A.E. Zimmern defines a nation as “a body of people united by a corporate sentiment of peculiar intensity, intimacy and dignity related to a definite home country”. According to Lord Bryce, “Nation is a nationality which has organised itself into a political body independent or desiring to be independent”. Professor R.N. Gilchrist observes, “Nation is very near in meaning to state plus nationality”. According to Hayes, “A nationality by acquiring political unity and sovereign independence becomes a nation”.
The definitions of nation quoted above clearly indicate that the term “National” refers to a group of people usually of the same race, resident on the same territory, sharing a common language, the same religion, similar history and traditions, common interests with common political associations and common ideals of political unity.
For example, when we speak of the British Nation, we mean “the British people organised in one state and acting spontaneously as a unity”. Similarly, when we speak of Pakistan we mean the people of Pakistan organised in one state and acting spontaneously as unity.
Before 1947, the Indian Muslims had their separate nationality and after partition when they succeeded in organising their own state, they began to be called Pakistani nationals and their state began to be known as a nation.