Sindh lacks vision, direction, plans and strategy, with the result that on one hand it has lost political and economic rights, the influx of people from other parts of country is fast changing the demography and damaging its culture and society and on the other the cities and towns of entire province have plunged into backwardness with no modern day facilities
Sindh Courier Report
Karachi: Portraying a gloomy picture of the state of affairs in political, economic, demographic and other sectors in Sindh, the eminent economist Dr. Qaiser Bengali has termed it a result of lacking the vision, direction, plans and the strategy.
“For moving ahead, you need to have vision that gives a direction. When you get a direction, there comes a stage to prepare plans and for implementing the plans you have to devise strategy. But unfortunately, Pakistan in general and Sindh in particular, lacks all these things, with the result that on one hand it has lost political and economic rights, the influx of people from other parts of country is fast changing the demography and damaging its culture and society and on the other the cities and towns of entire province have plunged into backwardness with no modern day facilities,” he said delivering his keynote speech at a seminar titled ‘Unity of Sindh – A need of the hour’ organized by The Intellectuals Forum (TIF) at Arts Council Karachi on Friday evening.
Further explaining his point of view, Dr. Qaiser cited an example of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who built nuclear processing plant at Kahuta quietly when the entire world was opposed to establishing a nuclear processing plant at Chashma under a treaty with France. “World attention was focused on Chashma but Bhutto was least interested in it. He accomplished his goal, as he was a great strategist,” he said.
“The problem with Sindh is that it has no vision, no direction, no plans and no strategy. Even its political and nationalist parties, intellectuals and elites are devoid of such things,” he opined.
Elaborating further, Dr. Qaiser said that Sindh meets all the energy needs of Pakistan. It contributes seventy percent of the total gas production and hundred percent coal production. The constitution envisages that the province, producing the gas, has first right over it and would only be supplied to other province if there is surplus gas. “Currently, the LNG is being imported to meet the shortage, and since the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw do not produce the gas, they have to pay for LNG, which is costlier than natural gas, but the federal government doesn’t agree for that and wants average rates for two provinces. This issue was raised at Council of Common Interests meeting and Sindh Chief Minister had to walk out of it.”
He also drew attention to the electricity bills the people of Sindh had been paying, which are highrer due to imposition of certain surcharges.
“Why nobody in Sindh is prepared to raise voice against this injustice,” he questioned remarking that the opposition parties in Sindh have no agenda except attacking the PPP government. “Sindh will lose all the rights if we didn’t raise the voice.”
Talking about highly adverse demographic changes, Dr. Qaiser quoted the census report of 1941 according to which the Sindhi speaking population in Karachi was 61 percent, Urdu speaking six percent and Pushto speaking only three percent. “But within ten years it all drastically changed as the 1951 census results showed decline of Sindhi speaking population from 61 to 26 percent and Urdu speaking ration jumped to 51 percent,” he told the audience. “These changes caused problems, as the demographic imbalances always create violence.”
“The demography of Karachi is fast changing due to influx of Pushto speaking people, as more and more people are coming here due to unstable economy of Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw. I such a situation I foresee Karachi as the City of Pakhtoons by 2040,” he apprehended further informing about the influx of Siraiki speaking people as the feudal lords there have switched over to corporate farming employing a very few people and now there is no place there for Siraiki peasants. “They all have come to Karachi.”
Citing an example of increasing Pushto speaking people in Karachi, he said two Pakhtoons were elected to Sindh assembly in 2008 and of them one became the member of provincial cabinet. “Although he had his vote registered in Taank area but even then he was elected here and became the minister,” he said and predicted that their number in Sindh assembly would increase to five in near future.
“This will cause great harm to politics, culture and language of Sindh,” he said and questioned, ”Is it acceptable to the people of Sindh?”
He referred to violence in Assam State of India a few decades back, and said ‘it was uprising against the immigrants so as to protect the political rights of the Assamese.’
Stating that the people coming here get the Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) very easily, as it is sold for Rs.1500/-, Dr. Qaiser Bengali suggesting a way forward, “Sindh would have to establish a NADRA-like institution to have a database and issue the PRC under a system.”
Turning to the miserable conditions of cities and towns across the province and utter failure of civic bodies, Dr. Qaiser suggested introducing an ‘Integrated Local Government System’ in Sindh with all the civic-bodies under one authority. “Currently, the entire system is fragmented. There are different authorities controlling the civic bodies.”
Calling for bringing the rest of Sindh at par to Karachi, Dr. Qaiser Bengali, who had been the Advisor to Sindh government on Planning and Development in the past, suggested developing four Metropolitan Zones with cluster of towns in each zone. According to him, the eight towns in upper Sindh could be connected with fast communication system and developing them on modern lines to turn it as a Metropolitan Zone. Similarly, Sanghar, Nawabshah and adjoining towns would form another Zone. Naushehro Feroze itself has many towns in its vicinity while Hyderabad, Kotri, Jamshoro, Matiari and other towns would make another cluster.
“The entire civic system has failed in Sindh, as there is no water supply, sewerage, transport and other systems. The government has to ensure water supply, sewerage, garbage lifting and public transport system.”
Concluding his speech, Dr. Qaiser Bengali said, “Sindh direly needs leadership; the leadership from intellectuals with strong will that can exert pressure on rulers to act according to their guidance. Sindh must wake up before it’s too late.”
Justice (Retired) Wajeehuddin Ahmed, Ms. Zahida Hina, Rahat Saeed, TIF chairman Masood Noorani advocate and others also spoke.