The Lockdown – Day-Fifty-Nine

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The writer today discusses highly important issue of Sindh – it’s of influx of people from other provinces and the countries, issuance of fake documents, demographic changes and exploitation of resources. In order to steer Sindh out of such crisis, he shares the basic principles which the people of Assam adopted in their struggle against the aliens.  

Zaffar Junejo

In political discourse, some sentences are frequently used. One of them is ‘we have learned nothing from history?’  It explains that we have not understood or realized the experiences of similar struggles, which occurred in the near past.

If we consider the above question in the context of our struggle against the bogus domiciles, then, it says that Sindh is not willing to learn from Assam’s struggle. In crisp and clear words, it means Sindh has been unwillingness to learn from Assam’s model. So, Sindh is not learning from History.

I would surely return to the Assam’s model. But allow me to share with you that politically designed migration has a timeline – it starts and then its ends. Meanwhile, if the people are aware and politically conscious, they would go for sound legislation. If their representatives are in aloofness and they are only active around their interests, then migration would continue. Whenever the migrants are in a considerable number, and they are elected at appropriate forums, afterward, they propose legislation for safeguarding their interests. One thing more, migration, particularly in Sindh is neither instant nor natural. It is political in nature and it is being done carefully with a design.

Do not forget that migration from other states/provinces started just after Pakistan came into being, although shifting of the population was not a part of the partition plan. Later, the federal government hatched the conspiracy and took away Karachi, along with its resource generating outlets and assets. Later, One-Unit was imposed, and whatever remained – financial reserves and newly developed agriculture land through Sukkur Barrage and Kotri Barrage was taken away. Comrade Hyder Baksh Jatoi has named that situation ‘internal-colonization.’ Professor Mushtaq Mirani, quoted the then Primer Minster of Pakistan, Choudhary Muhammad Ali that oncee he said, ‘the separation of Karachi was done to crush Sindhi nationalism.’ Professor continued that this separation supported people from other areas to settle in Karachi.’ He added that ‘final stroke came through the constitution of 1973. Its certain clauses simply assure the free movement of the residence of one part of the country to settle, wherever he/she wants to. The constitution has provided a legal cover for peoples of other areas to come and occupy our land and resources. It has continued, and is still on,’ he concluded.

On the other hand, big projects also played the part in population shift and migration. The case in point is of Jamrrao Canal, Sukkur Barrage and Kotri Barrage. These schemes caused settlement of people from other areas in Sindh. In recent times, Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan Machine Tool Factory and Qasim Port have pushed the Sindhi people and converted them in minority. Mustafa Baloch a senior development professional told this scribe that in Karachi, the above-mentioned big projects have converted Salar Jokhia, Kalmati, Bhawa, and Gabol villages in minority. The same also happened around Razaqabad and Gulshan-e-Hadeed areas, he added. He went on to say that in 1980s Afghanis occupied Superhighway, and their settlements were extended to Mangho Pir, and beyond. And in the same decade along with the Superhighway, both shoulders were allocated to non-locals in the names of Poultry Farms, and later came the hotels and petrol pumps, now we are seeing agriculture farms. He told that Bahria Town, DHA and other housing schemes in less than a decade’s time would change the demography from Gadap to Jamshoro.

 

If we continue that same argument, then in southern Sindh Thatta’s industrial zone/Dhabeji, Zulifkarbad and Thar Coal would be the lead cause of demographic change. The most devastating factor is that once demography is altered through a bribe, our meekness, or petty interest then it is difficult to reverse the process. I am saying so because it becomes legal, and human rights issues are involved. Then appropriate forums have to decide.

Now let me go to the earlier question, what we could learn from others, who also passed through the same situation. There are many examples where you could get inspiration and learn. But most appropriate is the struggle of Assam, which was launched against the migrants. There are some points we could learn from Assam’s struggle. However, we should be clear that the context of Assam was quite different from us, but we could learn the principles of their struggle. In the paragraph below I have contextualized their struggle’s principle and attempted to relate to our issues and struggle.

These are points:  1) A common thread in all aspects of Assam’s struggle was the establishing of moral ground that there is injustice with us, 2) We have to prove that through various political maneuvering and martial laws, influx of people within Pakistan and outside of Pakistan (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal) has taken place for several decades and all successive Governments have facilitated this demographic onslaught, 3) This systematic influx has sliced the opportunity slot of Sindhis in the areas of economic development, education, and employment opportunities, 4) The intrusion of these illegal people settled through forged documents has created law and order situations in cities and towns of Sindh, 5) The continued migration and concentration in Karachi have posed a much greater threat to Sindh. If not effectively checked, they may swamp the Sindhi people’s majority in Sindh. This will lead to disastrous political and economic results, and Sindh would lose its number- supremacy in the electorate, 6) The present government of Pakistan Peoples’ Party is handling this important issue with tricks and techniques. Its leadership is not showing statesmanship and avoiding their political as well as a moral responsibility towards people of Sindh, 7) Sindh must struggle for new legislation that has to ensure a just, fair, practical, and expeditions approach to halting illegal migrants, 8) The migrants’ documents should be registered in their respective provinces, and in Sindh, they should be without voting rights, and without the right to acquire immovable property, 9) The people should be bluntly told that migration into Sindh would not only be a threat to the identity of the Sindhi people, but also a burden to our fragile economy, 10) Sindh must start its NADRA type setup, and according to the 18th Amendment, there is provision, 11) A strong and effective mechanism should be made for birth and death certificates, 12) Each district should establish Citizen Portal showing issuing of Domiciles, PRCs, and other certificates, 13) Afghanis who have not returned to Afghanistan, their refugee status should be immediately canceled, and they should be treated as illegal migrants, 14) Active Citizens’ Groups should gather fake domicile data, and it has to be fed to the opinion-making groups, and 15)  The issue of the bogus domiciles and PRCs should be solved in a fixed time frame.

You should not be shocked to know that these non-locals or illegal immigrants and aliens are being settled with the support of politicians-mafias-bureaucrats. Sindhi bureaucracy, except a few officers, has sold the national resources and facilitated illegal settlements. It is my reserved statement that whenever there is the government of Pakistan Peoples’ Party, it has compromised on Sindh’s resources, and has used them as a bargaining tool with the federal government. And it continues from period of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and worst exploitation of Sindh’s has occurred in the last two tenures of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Government. (I hope our intelligent readers would be able to understand that democracy and the government are two different phenomena).

I understand that migration is a natural process. But, when it is politically backed, it becomes unnatural and ultimately captures the resources, job opportunities, and finally converts the majority into a minority.

Around the globe peoples’ movements use technology for their rights and it is great that we are also applying it for our just cause, and it should be continued. Please allow me to tell New Communication Technologies’ application in struggle creates ripples. But remember ripples’ generative engine is a political struggle. Sindh needs waves, and it could only happen through political struggle, and its domain is streets. I am confident that tomorrow’s trend would surely break the records. Wish you all the best for tomorrow’s trend. Long Live Sindh!

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Zaffar Junejo is Ph.D. Scholar at Department of History, University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur – The areas of interest: Peasants’ Studies, Social History, Cultural History, Colonial and Post-Colonial Periods.
For author’s previous blog click on Sindh Courier

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