WILL KASHMIRIS BE PAKISTAN’S NEW MOHAJIRS?

Much as it encourages militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and expresses ‘solidarity’ with the Kashmiris living in India, Pakistan is seeking to push a large number of them out of the Kashmir territory it controls. Plans are afoot to re-settle them in Sindh, and make them the new ‘mohajirs’.

This needs some explaining and recall of the past. Over a lakh of Kashmiris are to be shifted from the cool climes of the north to the dry desert region in Sindh. The idea is two-fold: to send them away because they have become vocal and demanding. This would create space and a ‘conducive’ environment to promote militancy by setting up more camps to keep up the pressures on India.  

As these plans get underway, history seems to be ready to repeat itself in Pakistan. Millions of Muslims who moved from India to the new nation in 1947 and thereafter, were pushed towards Sindh. Karachi, the new capital and the largest city, had become the city of these migrants who came to be called ‘mohajirs’.  Punjab and other provinces were by and large spared of this vast influx. Sindh bore the brunt.

Unsurprisingly, simmering protests are coming from Sindh, especially from Karachi that has since become the hub of more and more settlers including the Pushtuns and Balochs, since it has the maximum job potential for migrants. In the process, it has become over-populated, violence-prone, a cauldron for ethnic strife and has become ungovernable.  

Media reports in Sindh, particularly in the Sindhi press are raising objections. They point to allotment and work on  about 6627 acres of land lying vacant in Shahbandar and Jati talukas of of Sajawal district.

Both these are coastal areas and are spread up to Badeen. Some social and political activists have become vocal and are protesting. Awami Tehreek and other groups have announced more protests ii nth coming weeks, media reports say.

Activists point to thousands of landless people in Sindh who are unemployed. Husain Azad Memon writes in Sindh Express: “Are they all not Muslims? Don’t they come under larger humanitarian considerations?” Memon wants the Sindh natives to get the first right on land.

He argues that Sindh people have also joined the national solidarity for the Kashmiri people and want that they should get independence. But is it necessary to sacrifice the interests of the Sindhi people? He asks why they are being sent out of Kashmir in the first place.

Memon says Sindhis are already suffering for having accommodated in the past outside people with different cultures, faiths and socio-economic mores. Each such group has fought for place and has grabbed it received it at the cost of the local Sindhi population. Many have indulged in violence, he says without naming anyone.

“Instead of being grateful to Sindh (for its sympathies), there are always plans to split Sindh,” he complains. Not surprisingly, Sindh has become “the dumping ground for everyone who is not wanted elsewhere in the country.”

 The large population of mohajirs, the migrants from undivided India has made Sindh, especially Karachi, a battleground of sectarian forces and even terror groups. Memon warns:  “Today’s oppressed Kashmiris can become tomorrow’s mohajirs and together with old mohajirs, both will not hesitate to fight against Sindhis.”

Instead of the Kashmiris, the land available should be distributed among the landless farmers of Sindh, Memon writes.

Hyder Malah, writing in Pahanji (February 11, 2021) points to the totally alien climate and environment to which the Kashmiris would be thrown. From the hills of Kashmir, they are being forced to move to the coastal and marshy areas and even the waterless areas. “Their being bulldozed into Sindh will hurt them, and also destroy Sindhi civilisation,” Malah complains.

“We have to always be optimistic and march ahead. We have two sets of people in Sindh: One that says all is well and the other who say there is no hope now and everything is lost.  I think both are negative approaches.”

“The third scientific approach is to march ahead. But we can go on the right path only when we accept ground realities. There are no two opinions now and everybody will admit that the government (of the day) survives only on loot. One institution is controlling economy and politics in the name of religion and security.

Not sparing the Sindh Government either, Malah writes: “The state/government has drawn one big religious line in the name of religious ideology and any individual, group or nationality (group of people) wanting to cross over /go beyond that line is named traitor.”

 Raising issues pertaining to the Sindhi culture that he feels is under threat, Malah writes: “The state has decided that nationality will be Pakistani, national language will be Urdu and those talking about historic nations or rights of nations (group of people) and talking in favor of ancient languages will be viewed as enemies of state/country.”

“Most of us in Sindh know it very well that nationalistic movement in Sindh is not strong enough to get us results and as a result most of political activists are either upset and disappointed or they take to national mainstream out of frustration.

“The movement in Sindh will have to come out of expectations/hopes of any miracle happening here. Movement in Sindh will be based purely on moral and material support from Sindhis without waiting for dollars from any other country.

“We do not have to look out for any help in any other form too. We have lost too much in partition that can never be compensated for. But, people in Sindh’s cities can come forward to strengthen (nationalist) movement. Make Sindh people aware, make them aware to assert ownership of cities (in Sindh), be their joint supporters.

Making an impassioned plea to the Sindhi people, Mallah says: “It is only when you come forward as true inheritors of Karachi and other cities; it will infuse life in (nationalist) movements.  We will get higher and more success, much higher and more than what we are expecting from miracles.”   (Ends)

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