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Sindh Nationalism

Pakistan is a multilingual state in which it is possible to develop group identity in terms of one's language. The Bengalis were the first to forge such an identity during the language movements of 1948 and 1952. The Sindhi nationalists did the same but with less strength and success in January 1970 and July 1972. Now most Sindhi nationalist organizations spend more time on attacking each other than furthering the cause of Sindhi rights.

Sindh is a separate and distinct nation with its own language, culture and social system. According to Sindh nationalists, Sindh voluntarily surrendered its independence in order to contribute to the creation of a new state (Pakistan), under the conditions that full autonomy would be guaranteed to all the Federating Units and by the pledge to protect the social, cultural, linguistic and other rights of their inhabitants. But as soon as Pakistan came into being, the rulers of the day established their authoritarian rule over Sindh and the process to deny the right to Sindhis, began.

The province is virtually divided between the Urdu-speaking urban areas, which support the MQM, and the Sindhi-speaking people. Sindh Nationalists complain that with the creation of Pakistan, large number of Urdu speaking Muslims from India were encouraged to immigrate and settle in Sindh. They charge that the first nominated Prime Minister of newly created Pakistan, Liaquat Ali, who himself was a refugee, encouraged the Urdu speaking muslims of India to immigrate and settle in the Urban areas of Sindh, specially Karachi to create a electoral constituency for himself. Evacuee property was allocated free to the Urdu speaking refugees from India, who call themselves Muhajirs (immigrants). While it is usually said that muhajirs are highly educated and trained, Sindh Nationalists complain that it was only the poor lower class of Urdu speaking muslims looking for the better life, who were encouraged to immigrate to Pakistan and given preferential facilities, including free housing, businesses grants, free land allocation, by the first nominated urdu speaking Prime Minister Mr Liaquat Ali Khan.

Sindhi language has remained the national language of Sindh throughout its history, but this status was denied after the creation of Pakistan by the Urdu speaking nominated Prime Minister of Pakistan, who imposed Urdu as the national language of Pakistan in 1947. Although according to the government survey in 1988, Urdu is spoken only by 6% population, Urdu remains the only national language of Pakistan. However, in 1972 when the official status of Sindhi was being restored in Sindh by the Sindh Parliament, ethnic disturbances were started by the Muhajir minority, resulting in the loss of life of many Sindhi civilians specially in Karachi. The transfer of population continues to take place, resulting in the imbalance of the population and tension between the native Sindhis and immigrant Muhajirs and the ethnic cleansing of Sindhis by the militant MQM terrorists.

The Sindh Water Committee, while protesting at the continuous water scarcity in Sindh, has held the federal government, Wapda and Punjab responsible for the situation. Terming it a gross injustice, in March 2000 SWC leaders Rasool Bux Palijo and Abrar Kazi in a press statement said that through this act Punjab was being allowed to steal water meant for Sindh.

Although 30% of Pakistan's revenues are spent on defence, Sindh and its people do not benefit from it. About 90% of the so called active border between India and Pakistan happens to be along the Punjab province. From foot soldiers to the officers corp, the overwhelming majority of the military personnel is recruited from Punjab or Frontier provinces. Major military installations and strategic facilities are also situated either there or along the coastal lines. Even when the small cantonments are built in Sindh, most of the contracts and employment opportunities are offered to people from selective groups rather than the local communities.

The irony is, when in free countries, military bases are withdrawn from the inner cities, people residing in those areas experience severe economic set-backs. In Sindh and in Baluchistan, establishment of military bases of the army are perceived to be a threat to the local population.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:16:02 ZULU