Has the Suba Campaign Subsided?
By Salahuddin Haider
Karachi, Pakistan

The tempo with which the Muhajir suba campaign was launched may have subsided, but has the issue really been buried, or will it erupt again, and with greater intensity? That is the question requiring an answer, today, tomorrow, or in the near or distant future.
Wall-chalking could be controlled but sentiments are inborn, and can vary in form or shape, depending upon the circumstances. Wisdom demands that reason, logic, and even motives behind political demands championed by howsoever a handful or small group and faction of people, need to be dispassionately probed, carefully scrutinized, so that effective or at least workable remedies are found to forestall a “cause’ before it starts turning horrendous in nature.

History teaches us that ill-conceived, much less open or vehement hostility, towards a public aspiration has never paid off. It has, instead, been always counter-productive.  Quaid-i-Azam’s 14 Points, rejected by the then Congress or the British, led to the creation of a new State. Use of military might to crush Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman’s Six Points for the salvation of the Bengalis, led to the second biggest defeat of the Muslims in their 1400-year history in 1971. Pakistan was dividedin the process with 93,000 of its soldiers left to rot in enemy prisons and a vast chunk of land in Indian control.
Today, the social media is filled with slogans and material for a separate Muhajir province. Arshad Siddiqi of the Mohajir Rabita Council and a couple of more like him, have pleaded their case forcefully, knowing well that consequences for  their utterances on TV or in public, could be used against them. What is prompting or encouraging them to do that? Surely, some soul searching is required to be done.  Street rallies with inflammatory language is not the answer. Statements from the ruling elite against the division of Sindh are not going to help either.

Muhajirs, or the Urdu-speaking migrants from India, have a powerful parliamentary representation now — 7 senators, 25 MNAs and more than 50 MPAs in the Sindh Assembly. They should have felt happy that their voice is reaching the powers of corridor. Why then this dissatisfaction? This is the question, a crucial, very vital question. MQM and Altaf Hussain and some of his eminent party leaders like Saleem Shahzad, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Raza Haroon, have all been backing a united province in Pakistan’s southern part. Yet, the protagonists of a new province in Sindh, have remained unmoved. While in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Mirpurkhas, etc, supporters of a separate province, which has been there since 1970 when the late Nawab Muzaffar Ali Khan had floated a multi-nationality front, and GM Syed brought an entirely new manifesto, have been extremely active with their messages for the people about the new territory; those living abroad have held press conferences, brought alive on You Tube from Canada and Virginia in USA. This only goes to show that a dead issue has been reborn. But while Bhutto defeated G M Syed in the1970 elections to nip his philosophy, Altaf Hussain effectively countered the separatist feelings in Sindh by organizing his MQM and renaming it for a nationwide appeal. He is even today the last hope for curbing the extremist sentiments, provided his hands are strengthened by President Zardari, who is the iron man in the PPP. Zardari has so far been having a decent rapport with the MQM leadership. But people like Zulfikar Mirza (silenced now), Ayaz Paleejo and Qadir Magsi, have only tended to generate the kind of antagonism which is not going to help the cause of a united Sindh. Little do they realize that they are only harming the cause of their province. Resistance from them will only fuel the controversy and perhaps would make it difficult even for Altaf Hussain to curb the feelings among some of his followers.
It is now common knowledge that ranks and file of the Muhajir, who
include MQM elements also, do have reservations about the MQM stand on the subject. Rebellion within the MQM would be too harsh a term to
describe the feelings of the migrants about the discrimination between
local and non-locals. Mr Altaf Hussain has hinted at that when he said
a few weeks ago that things may go out of his hand. Then his recent
statement that all those living in Sindh should have equal rights and
that there should be no discrimination at any level, does reflect his
worry about events that have already begun to cast their shadow.
Let it be said here that if to talk of Sindh’s division is a taboo,
then why shouldn’t the PPP denounce those raising the slogan of Sindhu
Desh? Why are the PPP leaders silent about this demand from the ultra
nationalists and why are Nawaz Sharif and Ghous Ali Shah
trying to woo them? The PML (N) must clearly spell out its stand on the Sindhu Desh issue with the same vehemence as the party has renounced the demand for the division of Sindh.  Has Nawaz Sharif forgotten that he had himself dismissed the elected government of Liaquat Jatoi in Sindh on the charge of Hakeem Saeed’s murder? MQM was blamed for that, with no clue to support that charge. Nawaz Sharif should also recall initiating a rebellion in Balochistan when he dismissed the sensible government of Akhtar Mengal to replace it with artificial leadership. He set the ball rolling and is now blaming Musharraf for everything.
Yes, there is one possibility of making Karachi a province. Some hard
facts, collected from various record and reference books (whose list
can be supplied when the time comes), can easily be cited to support
that contention. Demanding a new province is the right of everyone. If
PPP can demand Bahawalpur and Multan as separate provinces, why can’t Hazara be a province, and why can’t Karachi be a province too?
Karachi has the second highest literacy rate in Pakistan, after
Islamabad - 72.2 percent against 72.4 percent. Karachi district central
has the highest literacy ratio of 76 percent.

A recent socio-economic survey places Karachi as 1st and 2nd in Pakistan. Lahore follows after Karachi. In case of share for district taxes and revenue collection in Sindh, Karachi contributes almost 96 percent of the total Sindh revenue. Karachi contributed 34.85 percent of total sales tax at the national level. Punjab’s share is 24.05 percent in 2008-09, Khybr Pukhtoonkhawa’s 1.20 percent and Balochistan’s 0.82 percent. The PPP government has added to the feeling of deprivation among the Karachiites with its policies. Of the five commissioners in the five divisions of Sindh, all are Sindhis, and of the 27 deputy commissioners 25 are Sindhis. Recent police recruitment were all for Sindhis. Where was the share of urban areas of Sindh in these postings and job recruitments? 

Time has come for the rulers to have a good look at their attitude. The local bodies rights have been denied to urban Sindh which has added to the feelings of deprivation in Karachi, Hyderabad and other cities. The question to ponder is: can Altaf Hussain remain insensitive to these bitter facts, and, if so, for how long? salluhaider@gmail.com

 

 

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