By Sindhu Yousuf
Sindh and PPP’s bondage is as old as the formation of PPP and the emergence of the talented and dynamic personality of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the political scene – but it was his Sindhi identity that attracted Sindhis towards him rather than his slogan of “Roti, Kapra aur Makan” (food, clothes & shelter). This very factor is keeping the bond intact between the two even today. Starting with ZA Bhutto, PPP has come into power several times at the Federal level and in the province. Sometimes while it has been in opposition, it has been able to form government in Sindh. The Sindhis have supported it all along be it in the power or in opposition. But the question is: ‘has the PPP also stood with Sindhis? Has the PPP ever raised the question of rights of Sindhis or has it strived to achieve rights of Sindhis when it was in power or does it intend to do so in the future?
The answer to these questions can be found looking at the track record of PPP in the past as well as its performance in the present government. It looks that PPP has not raised the question of the rights of Sindhis! But why is it so? The answer is also very simple: the PPP is not a nationalist party, which could easily raise Sindhi issues – it is a Pakistan level party. Hence it could speak on country’s issues and the Kashmir issue but it could not speak on Sindh’s issues. If it had taken up Sindhi issues, it would have lost vote bank from Punjab - the biggest province of Pakistan, limiting it to Sindh only.
It is not my intention here to criticize the PPP but to draw attention of readers on complex fundamental problems of Sindh that despite remaining in power, PPP could not take up. On the other hand, we Sindhis have never reckoned or reposed confidence in any other party that would have gone to Assembly and taken up our issues – while the PPP is in power even now but it has not initiated any major policies that could lead to solve problems of Sindhis.
Even on the issue of Kalabagh Dam, PPP had been initially hesitant to take up the stand against it but when all three provinces opposed it, Mohtarma agreed to join the Obaro rally. This is however a past story.
PPP will now be completing three years in power. What steps has PPP taken or intends to take for the realization of Sindhi rights?
Since the creation of Pakistan, Sindh has remained the land of immigrants settlement no matter where they came from, India, Bangladesh or even Afghanistan. People from India continue to migrate even after 1952 and no step has been taken to stop this illegal immigration - flow from Bangladesh and Afghanistan also continues. It is strange that the MQM got a resolution passed from Sindh Assembly that Sindhis from outside Karachi can not seek admissions in Karachi’s educational institutions while our Sindhi representative have done nothing. Today Muhajirs and Pathans control the Karachi city and Afghan muhajirs, instead of living in camps, are dominating the city’s trade. Most of them possess fake Pakistani passports and Identity cards. The city is now divided into two dominant forces, Muhajirs and Pathans who occasionally clash with each other and the city has become unsafe.
When in 2009, Jeay Sindh opened their office and hosted its flag in Karachi, many of its workers were murdered at the hands of both MQM and Pathans fearing that Sindhis will grab the land from them. Musharraf Government bulldozed Sindhi villages and later when PPP Government came in power, it was expected of them that they will help Sindhi victims rebuild their homes and villages but I don’t think the government has really taken any practical step in that regards.
Intention to narrate this often told story is to come to the conclusion that ‘if PPP does not come to the rescue of Sindhi people even now, then when will it really do so? When will Sindh government frame policies to block schemes of pushing Sindhis into minority in their own cities? Will the PPP continue to get vote from Sindhis in the name of Bhutto on pretext that he was a Sindhi but avoid taking steps in favor of Sindhis? If it continues, perhaps our coming generations may curse us for voting for PPP and accuse us of supporting PPP trading of our rights. I mean to emphasis that since the PPP is in power today, it must take some steps to rescue the future of Sindh and abort efforts of pushing Sindhis into minority.
I would like to recommend here some practical steps that government may take which may be instrumental to salvage the situation to some extent.
a. Ensure strict implementation of Immigration laws to stop illegal incoming flow of foreigners.
b) Fake ID cards, domiciles and passports must be probed and cancelled and holders of such documents must be punished under the relevant laws.
c) Status of Afghan Muhajireen must be thoroughly probed and the people displaced by Afghan war, must be put in the camps and dealt under asylum rules and regulations.
d) Those foreigners who don’t posses work permit must not be allowed to open the shops and start trade in Karachi.
e) Performance of NADRA and other such organizations must be monitored to block issuance of passports and NICs to illegal immigrants. Immigration policy be reviewed and strict policy be adopted to eliminate chances of flow of illegal immigrants.
f) Sindhi language proficiency test must be made compulsory according to the 1972 Language Act to qualify for jobs in Sindh. It should be basic condition on those desiring citizenship and jobs in Sindh so that the rights of indigenous population are safeguarded. Beside it will also facilitate Sindhi patients explaining their medical condition to doctors in their own language. It will facilitate Sindhi students to communicate with teachers in their own language and muhajirs settled in Sindh will easily learn and adopt Sindhi language that will ensure their assimilation in local population – they will face no problem learning Sindhi since they have been there for the last 63 years, which is not an inadequate time. Admissions should be opened for Sindhis in Karachi.
g) Karachi must be de-weaponized through Special Police Force.
h) Flood victims living in camps in Karachi must be settled in Karachi so that they have the employment & trade & business opportunities there. The villages razed during Musharraf government must be re built.
All the above steps may be difficult but not impossible. Sindh is our land and if we cannot take such steps to save it and protect our rights then what will be worst than it? If any person or nationality living in Sindh feels threatened by taking steps to protect the rights of Sindh, then they are anti Sindh elements and such people have no right to live in Sindh. If Pakistan’s existence and Sindh’s existence are two different things opposed to each other, in that case we have Sindh’s existence dear to us. Sindh existed before Pakistan came into being and will exist even after it. Those who want to usurp rights of indigenous Sindhis in the name of Pakistan, they should look for another corner of Pakistan to live in – there is no space in Sindh for Sindh enemies.
I appeal to the elected PPP members that please do not slaughter Sindh after taking votes in the name of Sindhi ‘Shaheeds' (martyrs). Don’t tear apart belly of Sindh with daggers borrowed from aliens. If you can fight for Sindh’s rights, do fight or at the least vacate assembly seats.
(This article was originally written in Sindhi. It is translated in English by Mr. Ghulam Haider).