The quintessential question which all Muhajirs are asking themselves is what is next. With the division and infighting and dismantling of the leadership. There is no concurrent way ahead. This confusion has put Muhajir intelligentsia in perplexity. This piece would try to address the many questions that many face today.
A few days ago a prominent journalist like Hamid Mir acknowledged that all the National parties have not been able to put up full list of candidates across the country’s 272 seats. It looks like each of the party has been able to achieve 100% in each of their ethnic strongholds like PTI in KPK, PMLN in Punjab and PPP in Sindh. He further stated that the situation looks like ethnically polarized. This infact is the reality of the Pakistan politics. The nation is unfortunately either Sindhi, Punjabi, Baluchi, Pathan, Seraiki, Muhajir, Hazara or Kashmiri. The notion of being only Pakistani is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
With all the various tribes. Pakistan being a tribal society pre partition this was bound to happen. As Mauling Azad reminded of then migrating infact warning them that they are going to a tribally polarized Pakistan and on their lands and it would be a disaster. But our forefathers who strived hard for Pakistan broke all ranks, left they all had and migrated to Pakistan thinking that they are just going to a country which would embrace them on one pretext that is Islam. But they were wrong to undermine the tribal eccentricity of the areas they shifted to. The locals who are now a days known as Sons of the Soil were though seemingly happy to know that they are liberated off the British Empire. But at the same time were conscious of the fact that millions who are neither Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan or Baluchi are coming to their lands.
For the same reason Liaquat-Nehru pact ensued to ensure and safeguard the interests of the migrating communities across. Though there was significant bloodshed where millions lost their lives. The pact was in essence as follows:
“The Liaquat–Nehru Pact or Delhi Pact was a bilateral treaty between the two South-Asian states, India and Pakistan, whereby refugees were allowed to return unmolested to dispose off their property, abducted women and looted property were to be returned, forced conversions were unrecognized, and minority rights were confirmed. The treaty was signed in New Delhi by the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan on April 8, 1950. The treaty was the outcome of six days of talks sought to guarantee the rights of minorities in both countries after the Partition of India and to avert another war between them.
The two main clauses are as follows:
(v) Rights of ownership in or occupancy of the immoveable property of a migrant shall not be disturbed. If, during his absence, such property is occupied by another person, it shall be returned to him provided that he comes back by the 31st December, 1950. Where the migrant was a cultivating owner or tenant, the land shall be restored to him provided that he returns not later than the 31st December, 1950. In exceptional eases, if a Government considers that a migrant’s immoveable property cannot be returned to him, the matter shall be referred to the appropriate Minority Commission for advice. Where restoration of immoveable property to the migrant who returns within the specified period is found not possible, the Government concerned shall take steps to rehabilitate him.
(vi) That in the case of a migrant who decides not to return, ownership of all his immoveable property shall continue to vest in him and he shall have unrestricted right to dispose of it by sale, by exchange with an evacuee in the other country, or otherwise. A committee consisting of three representatives of minority and presided over by a representative of Government shall act as trustees of the owner. The Committee shall be empowered to recover rent for such immoveable property according to law. The Governments of East Bengal, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura shall enact the necessary legislation to set up these Committees. The Provincial or State Government, as the case may be, will instruct the District or other appropriate authority to give all possible assistance for the discharge of the Committee’s functions. The Provisions of this sub-paragraph shall also apply to migrants who may have left East Bengal for any part of India, or West Bengal, Assam or Tripura for any part of Pakistan, prior to the recent disturbances but after the 15th August, 1947. The arrangement in this sub-paragraph will apply also to migrants who have left Bihar for East Bengal owing to communal disturbances or fear thereof.
When millions of people migrated across the border. Various figures put these figures but major migration happened from Sindh and Punjab. Hindus who owned almost 70% on the land and had under custody another 11% as they lent money against it. When migrated to India claimed not only the principal owned land but also the land mortgaged with them. The Indian laws accommodated.
Muslims who left millions of Acres behind in India were struggling to claim what was their rightfully theirs. As per one article written by Mohammed Ashen Chaudhri titled “Evacuee Property in India and Pakistan whilst there was only 27 exchanges happening in West Punjab (now Punjab of Pakistan) Over 2000 or 1999 such exchanges were put up on demand in Sindh and Karachi alone showing that bulk of the population migrating to India was coming from Sindh and Karachi. Whilst many legislations were formed to resolve the evacuee property issue for the Muslims migrating to Pakistan most of the cases were left pending. The displaced persons settlement Act 1954 and then 1958. The issues in thousands of claims remained. The democratic government collapsed in Pakistan as one of the founder died in 1948 and the signatory of Liaquat – Nehru pact was assassinated in 1951.
Millions of Muslims who strived and practically won their freedom from the British were left stranded in a tribal society. None of the international treaties were entertained safeguarding their rights.
Instead of imparting rights to these Migrants who were then branded as Muhajirs. In 1975 when the then Chief justice wanted to resolve these cases at one go. Zulfiqar Bhutto who was more a Sindhi than a Pakistani as first he tried to snatch the power from Bengalis and we saw the consequences of which than attacked Muhajirs; a word promoted in his tenure. He when realized that the court’s judgment may provide benefit to the Muhajir community repealed all such laws in 1975 which were made to ensure to give the due right and share of the Muhajir community. As per Article 176 of constitution of Pakistan no international agreement can’t be ratified and holds no legal ground. All international treaties takes a supra nature on any local legislations. All these international treaties have been ratified under Liaquat- Nehru pact and can be seen on the above link. So practically, a so called democratically elected government started the moral genocide of Muhajirs by extra constitutional measures right before MQM even came into existence.
The argument which we hear time and again is that why we still call ourselves as Muhajirs. The fact remains that we were treated and continued to be treated as such and instead of giving us our rights we were left at the mercy of the feudal system of Sindh. Only after these attempts Muhajirs felt the need to get united and didn’t do this immediately. Unfortunately after Bhutto’s hanging even the Military government didn’t do much alleviate the concerns and hence came into force politically and still seek their rights though decades have passed.
Perhaps keeping this in view several cases presented to the supreme courts inclusive one of the current Chief Justice Saqib Nisar when he was on the bench of Supreme Court only as Justice. In the year 2015 ruled in favor of the claimant of the Evacuee Trust property superseding the draconian promulgation done by a so called democratic Sindhi leader i.e. Bhutto. Sad part is that instead of alleviating the quality amongst his community vide education. Bhutto decided to win the race by crippling his competition if he can’t eradicate them. Of course he didn’t had the courage to take Punjab head on knowing the consequences. But fate had it for him and he made wrong moves and paid the price with his head. Whilst in my opinion the specific judgment allowing his hanging can be controversial but the political genocide he unleashed on Bengalis and then Muhajirs is unforgiving.
A recent movement has started seeking allocation of Evacuee Trust properties back to the original owners or claimants. We must remember that this land as per treaties on the premise of foundation of Pakistan and by the founders of the nation was rightful share of who migrated and sacrificed. The argument that the Muhajirs were given refuge is nothing but a big farce as I must remind that most of the current Pakistan didn’t even vote in majority in the favor of Pakistan though Muslims were in majority here. Whilst on the contrary being a minority still they voted and won Pakistan for all not only for them.
So let’s say that if Sindh today stands at 140,914 sq km and as per Hameeda Khuhro a leading Sindhi intellectual 81% was owned by Hindus than almost 114 sq km of the 141 sq km of the Sindh’s land only belong to the Muhajir community. Instead I would like to raise the question how much of that has been imparted in actual to the migrant community. I am sure the Evacuee Trust board may have some statistics which they can share with us. As per our information bulk of this land was grabbed by feudal and others who are now ruling over those who founded the nation and also other lesser privileged class. It’s about time that all such illegal actions are overturned and rights of the Muhajir community is imparted to them.
Now I must add as per stats available at least a double digit land was owned by migrating Hindus and Sikhs in even in Baluchistan and KPK. Albiet putting a stake of migrating Muhajirs on a sizeable land to our estimate of approximate to the size of Province of Sindh.
Under the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. The past rulings of Supreme Court discrediting any such laws overturning the factual right of the Muhajir community or the status of the Evacuee Trust properties. We would seek justice that Supreme Court especially Chief Justice of Pakistan that is Mr. Saqib Nisar upholding his own past judgment would give Muhajirs their due share and recognize and impart Evacuee property which our forefathers can’t win due to delayed justice and then ceased at the hands of promulgation of the Act XIV of 1975 repealing all rights of Muhajirs community in a late night resolution in the National Assembly.
By every passing day it is becoming clearer for me as a Muhajir that Sindhis especially are not interested to give us the rights. I would time and again say that it’s not the fault of the state or other communities. The last few decades starting from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto down to current PPP mindset led by Asif Zardari clearly shows that it’s not the state but Feudal Sindhis who are not willing to give Muhajir their rights and use the loaded constitution to their population majority time and again rob Muhajirs of their rights but at the same time doing a disservice to the state as they are making Muhajirs disenchanted in the system and pitching them against Pakistan as it favors them to keep leverage with Punjab and simply earn. The history repeats itself as they did the same in the case of Bengalis decades ago. The state must identify this action of these and identify the true enemies of Pakistan.
So what’s the solution? Simple and let me put these in steps:
Step 1 : Identify the land under Evacuee Property (Matrooka Amlak)
Step 2: Using the same quota system which Bhutto implemented demarcate Sindh Urban and Rural
Step 3: Declare it as a province. Let’s call it Sindh Urban.
Though I would agree that only Muhajirs don’t live in Sindh Urban though a loaded census try to pitch our numbers much lower. I would say with a Sindh urban province the majority populations in order can be custodians of the new province of Sindh Urban. The idea is to win our rights without discrediting others. The whole idea is to get ourselves free of the clutches of Feudal Sindh which would never evolve itself and neither let others progress. The lack of development in Sindh though PPP has been in power for many years shows that they don’t have the capability or the will to help people. Though we all know that the rich Sindhis or middle class Sindhis have become millionaires whilst their poor Sindhis have been thrown into much more turmoil.
The province of Sindh Urban will ensure faster pace of development in a new province which presents the best opportunity for Pakistan to grow. The Muhajirs must understand the importance of the case of Evacuee Property (Matrooka Amlak). They must realize that they are equally son of the soils unlike its been portrayed. It’s their right.
The nation must realize that Muhajirs are a consequence of their apathy triggered by the element who wanted to hijack Pakistan as the British left for their benefit. It’s their in equal justice that Muhajirs became an identity though we migrated only to be Pakistanis. But fate as well as the tribal mindset had its own ways. The word “Muhajir” was not our first choice but now it’s our necessity to survive.
I am sure the establishment and the patriotic Pakistanis will understand our simple demand as we also want a stronger Pakistan which can only progress by conceiving a Sindh Urban province in the best interest of our nation. Hence I say as I said years ago. A new province in Sindh is overdue and perhaps in other parts of the country as well. Pakistan Zindabad!