As I finished my first cup of coffee I was looking deep into my iPad reading an article of how Karachi was short changed to support it in the face of recent pandemic of Covid19. I took deep breath of anger and let my anguish run through my nostrils when I got a call from a friend (Who didn’t belong to Karachi) to have a casual conversation on how I am personally surviving through the lock down. I told him that nothing much but was feeling frustrated today on how Karachi and its main inhabitance which are Muhajirs have been persecuted and abused over the last few decades. Every time when I speak to this friend or many others the argument steer towards the debate that why we still call ourselves Muhajirs. The argument is based on the fact that it was not us who migrated from India but perhaps our grandparents or in some cases our parents. The oppressors use this analogy of portraying our self as Mohajirs against us and over the last few decades have used this as a weapon repeatedly to label my community “as traitors or anti state”. This painful use of diction especially by those who are the main reason for calling ourselves as such is something which need to be dwelled into and perhaps clarified. Today through this blog I would try to clarify some of these myths and possible reasons behind this.
When Pakistan came into existence in 1947 it was bound to change the history of the region in many forms. The geography was to have a permanent scar as communities got displaced and migrated across the borders both from Pakistan and India. The argument of Hindu nationalist today that whole area beginning from Baluchistan to Burma is part of greater “Bharat”. But the founder of Pakistan Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stressed to his opponents at his time that the land belonged to both those who chose to remained as Hindu but also to those who converted to other religions which were mainly Muslims. Hence, their right to claim their share of land would exit and should form the basis of a nation which would be called Pakistan. The only change to which would be to bundle all such areas together to form republic depending on the choice of those who decide. The 1946 plebiscite clearly identified that there was a big mass of people who desired to see a separate republic free of the control of traditional Indian politics and at the same time the British. Majority of the Muslims supported this form of republic hence today we call it Islamic Republic Pakistan. Whilst millions of Muslims chose to migrate to Pakistan at a great cost of losing not only their wealth and proprieties but as well at the immense cost of their lives and honor. Millions of Muslims or more chose to stay back and adopted India as their home.
The migration to Pakistan of such Muslim were to be one of the largest movement of the people at the history at that time. These people were classified as “Muhajirs” in all official communications at that time and later till perhaps in 1974. The biggest flight happened into Punjab and Sindh, most of the Muhajir who travelled towards Sindh chose to go and settle in Karachi which was at that time classified as a federal territory but not part of province of Sindh.
Some say that it was at this point when GM Syed a popular Sindhi nationalist got antagonized of Pakistan state. Perhaps, he miscalculated that after the exodus of Hindu to India who owned 70% of the land would leave GM Syed and his Sindhi contemporaries in full control of the province was hit by the reality that the impoverished and lesser educated Sindhi would become a political minority as well as would not be able to retain their majority over the province of Sindh. The reason being the influx of Muhajir into Sindh due to capital of Karachi as they were to take over roles in federal government based on their past experience and knowledge this came as a big shock for Sindhis community who were far behind in all categories when compared. In my opinion and as history would say based on some Sindhi writers that GM Syed and companies decided to confront this issue and retain control. This was never going to be easy because not many of them were in key positions of control and influence after formation of Pakistan. Hence, this was to be a long-drawn battle over a period of time.
Sindhis, traditionally call themselves as one of the oldest civilization in the region after Rajput and Peshwas. Whilst, the letter retained their respective identities in sprit in newly formed India where Peshwas who are known today also as Marathas had their own state. The Sindhi Hindus going to India after migration lost that identity as new India did offer them land or properties evacuated by migrating Muslims but could not give them sandhi identified province in new India. Everyone know that GM Syed had as some say six sons whilst only two were Muslims. Two were known to be practicing Hindu and the other two were atheists like their father. The Sindhis on both sides of border begin to realize that this has to reduced their foot print significantly in region as new India did not offered a Sindhi Province and the Sindh province in Pakistan suddenly saw a big influx of Muhajir migrating from various parts of India diluting the Sindhi in their own domain. This in my view was when the first stone for the foundation of a desired “Sindhu Desh” came into existence.
Led by GM Syed the Sindhi nationalist formed a think Tank where the first step was to introduce a trusted; lieutenant into the system. Who could that be was the question mark they needed someone who was smart, cunning and a political to achieve this agenda. Hence, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto whose father was the Prime minister under Nawab of Junagadh was chosen for the task. He was first planted with President Iskandar Mirza then graduated into warming upto President General Ayyub Khan. Many people remember the speech which Bhutto did in the UN where he claimed that we would fight for a thousand years and would not surrender but what many don’t know that being foreign minister it was Bhutto who assured that if Pakistan enters into any conflict with India. The world powers would support Pakistan’s conquest and would ensure Pakistan’s victory. This support was never to come and Pakistan entered into a War on as some say close to establishment based on a wrong intel or assurance. Was this a way to weaken our Army establishment? This needs to be investigated. Than as history tells us that Bhutto played a key role in creating rifts between Gen Ayyub Khan and Gen Yahiya Khan which saw later becoming the CMLA of Pakistan. Now, it’s not to be forgotten that it was Sindhi intelligentsia led by GM Syed which could be driving what Bhutto was embarking upon. With a weak Gen Yahiya in power Bhutto was in more control and hence closer to his quest or Sindhi quest to recover their lost dominion. I
In my opinion, a 5-stage plan could be seen to regain control, reinforce and re-establish lost control
The Capital was shifted from Karachi to Islamabad and in 1968. Karachi now a much more developed and accomplished city and real estate fell in Sindh’s lap. First objective achieved. We have all read many books on how Bhutto played his role where the same history tells us of a dialogue between Bhutto and Mujeeb where the later accused Bhutto of pushing Mujeeb and Bengalis for going into sedition. With the “Fall of Dhaka”, Bhutto became more powerful so much so that he later coerced and some say went beyond to pressurize Gen Yahiya Khan in issuing orders making him CMLA and getting absolute powers. One big use of those powers was a consequence that he abolished all claims by Muhajirs on their rightful demand over the land which Hindus left in 1974 during one order. Hence depriving the rights of Muhajirs in one shot guaranteed to them under international treaties like Liaquat-Nehru pact in 1950. Whilst, the migrating Hindus to India got their all claims both of owned and mortgaged land of 70% in Sindh. Muhajirs got not even 10% of that right and which was given they were ejected from all the interior Sindh cities like Larkana and others.
On top of it Bhutto implemented “Quota System” in Sindh further depriving Muhajirs of their equal right to jobs. Confiscated properties of prominent Muhajir families like those of Valikas and Habibs and nationalized them. Terminated over 350 Muhajir officers etc etc. One wonder after losing half the country was this a good strategy as a national leader to start antagonizing another large community in Pakistan. For Muhajirs, who accuse establishment of taking away their rights. It was at this point when things changed for Muhajirs and establishment which was battered and under full control of Bhutto ended up eliminating to a great extent control of Muhajirs in echelons of power. Accomplishment of Stage 2.
The third stage would be how now to control and obliterate the influence of Muhajirs politically. But Bhutto never got a chance and was hanged. Now if you look at it, as I read history I don’t feel sorry much for this today.
The next stage was to be accomplished by Benazir Bhutto. In her first government of 1988, Muhajirs saw Pakka Killa Operation and Hyderabad Massacre and in her second government in 1996 which started an operation including extra judicial killings of Muhajirs. One source say that establishment was not keen to carry on the 92 operations and wanted to exit out of it and wrote to Benazir to end the operation instead she chose to drive it politically using Police and para military and cover forces using retired Gen Naseer ullah Babar and started killing Muhajir boys. It seemed that with Muhajir resistance this was not to be easy and she lost her government infect had to go in exile like Muhajir leadership as a consequence during the same lost her own brother in the process. Sometimes, I feel that establishment didn’t entirely trusted her too. The Stage 3 of elimination of Muhajir control came to a halt. Benazir was not to come into power again after this and was assassinated in 2008 before she could even contest the elections.
Stage 4 & 5:
Between, 1998 till 2008. Muhajirs and one of their leading party that is MQM gained more control to the dismay of the Sindhis and patriarchs. They blamed a Muhajir Army chief that is Gen Musharraf in re-in forcing Muhajirs in the province but I am sure that establishment always felt that Sindhis are a threat to national security and kept a keen eye on them. In 2008, when after Benazir gone Zardari came into power Stage 3 and 4 had to be achieved.
Now let’s not forget Zardari’s father that is Hakim Zardari was one who hated Muhajirs immensely. Their home that is “Zardari House” behind towers was built on Matruka land as well as he was one of the first ones to visit Pashtun colonies after massacre of Muhajirs after Qasba Colony massacre. Many would tell anti Muhajir meetings along with Palejo was main agenda at the Zardari house in the 80’s and later in 90’s. Same Hakim Zardari son became President in 2008. But he knew he could not achieve his plans until without manipulation. He went to see Altaf Hussein in London and sought pardon only for the dead brother and nephew of Altaf and gained his confidence. Zardari wanted to keep Sindh card intact knowing that this card is of no essence without urban centers of Sindh where not Sindhi dominated.
A big stumbling block for Zardari and co. With Altaf distracted. Sindhi started rebuilding where they left from in 1997 and formed Peoples Aman Committee to annihilate Muhajirs and used the threat of operation and coercing MQM which was not the same as in the 90’s into agreeing into signing and supporting the 18th amendment. MQM or Altaf told Muhajirs that this amendment would help devolution of power to local bodies and help people with their day to day issues. Muhajirs were keen on this seeing the successful run of this first under Naimat ullah Khan (who was a Muhajir but was from JI) and later Mustafa Kamal (who was from MQM and Muhajir). Looks like that they were trapped into signing 18th Amendment with intent to pass on the power without stipulating any deadline. A bad omission or a mistake on MQM leadership which ignored such. Altaf coerced his team into signing this document.
18th Amendment achieved for Sindhis of Sindh in getting what they always wanted an autonomous Sindh as they get financial powers. Now all they had to do was to pitch Muhajirs versus the state and get the attention away from them so that they can consolidate and rebuild.
Today, Sindh is nearly independent of the federation and each time 18th Amendment is threatened; the new Bhutto that is Bilawal threatens that “Wifaq” integrity is under threat. Lately, we are seeing Sindhu Desh or Sindhi nationalists re-emerging without any condemnation from the Sindhi PPP. I am sure that establishment is aware of the fact and the proximity. The stage 3 was achieved when Altaf threatened the state and was wiped out and hence Muhajirs were left in the disarray. The stage 4 was achieved earlier when 18th amendment was put into play. All going as per plan which was laid right after formation of Pakistan.
There is a stage 5 too for which all this was started. Would it be achieved. I am sure establishment has their eyes on the same. A united Muhajir could be a strong antidote for this effort. Further, a province within Sindh or based on Matruka Sindh land would ensure that Stage 5 is never achieved. Muhajirs sons of the founders of Pakistan could be the greatest ally for establishment. Perhaps, it needs to be realized that the friction derived from Sindhis PPP drives the wedge between Muhajirs and the establishment only helping them easily Stage 5. It’s time to change the equation for good and put a stop to a disgruntled dream started by GM Syed using stooges like Bhutto’s and Altaf to achieve his goals.
The issue faced by Muhajirs in Sindh is not the same in Punjab which embraced and accepted them and did not force a quota system on them. Hence, the desire of Muhajirism exist more in Sindh than Punjab though a larger Muhajir community lives there. The Sindhi nationalist’s intention was always to conspire against Pakistan and hence Muhajirs were always used as a bait thankfully due to corrupt Muhajir leadership. Things are changing now and I don’t think that it would be possible for Muhajirs to blindly get lured in the trap as scapegoats anymore.
I am sure someone in establishment would read this and if not already know would ponder this for the sanctity of our nation and its unity. Pakistan Zindabad!