Sindh in the Midst of Crisis

Mohd. Arif, Researcher, IDSA

 

The foundation of Pakistan was based on Islam. Islam was a great unifying factor for the Muslims in the pre-independence era and resulted in the two-nation theory and the birth of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The ethnic factor gained importance after the foundation of Pakistan. Though Islam was the foundation, ethnicity became the driving force in politics. The MQM phenomenon is of recent origin but the grievance of Muhajirs and the ethnic politics of Sindh is largely rooted in the history and political process of the Pakistan state. The ethnic groups in Sindh are both used and abused by the politician to achieve narrow political gains. This article attempts to analyse the politics of Sindh in general and Nawaz Sharif's rule in particular. Sharif's rule assumes importance because in spite of having a huge mandate his short-sighted policies resulted in more violence and uncertainty in Sindh.

Out of Pakistan's four provinces namely Baluchistan, North-West Frontier, Punjab and Sindh, Sindh province has always been in the limelight and is popularly referred to as a "province of permanent sectarian violence". Karachi the capital of Sindh is a city of about 13 million people where anxiety, fear, tension, terror and violence have become a common feature. Karachi has always been the commercial and business jugular of Pakistan. Unfortunately, for well over ten years now, it has also been the block that many governments have stumbled on, or even fallen over. There has been no substantial change in Karachi's violence to date. During the Benazir era (1993-96) Muhajir nationalism was suppressed through army action and extra judicial killings. In 1997, Nawaz Sharif came to power with a massive mandate and with the support of MQM [Muhajir Qaumi Movement now known as Muttahida Qaumi Movement]. In Sindh MQM was given a free hand. But in 1998, differences between the MQM and the Muslim League's government came out in the open over Hakim Said's murder. Nawaz Sharif's open accusation resulted in the end of the alliance. However, both MQM and PML(N) were having differences over the Shariat bill, about army highhandedness and the governance of Sindh.

The politics of Sindh revolve around different points of conflict, such as, Sindh Vs Center, Sindhis Vs Muhajirs, Muhajirs Vs Punjabis, Muhajirs Vs Muhajirs, Shia Vs Sunni etc. The violence in Sindh province is not a new phenomenon, its root cause lies in the very creation of Pakistan. After partition the majority of refugees who left India by force or by choice from areas other than Punjab came to Sindh and settled principally in the cities, such as Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukker. While other ethnic groups like Punjabis, Baluchis and people of NWFP migrated to the city of Karachi in search of employment, the largest ethnic group which migrated and settled down in the city was the Urdu speaking Muslims from the Muslim minority areas, especially of Northern India such as the United Provinces [UP] Central Provinces [CP], Hyderabad, Deccan, Delhi and Gujarat etc.1 These people insisted on retaining their distinctive identity. They preferred to be addressed as Muhajirs (immigrants).2 Most of them were well educated, having held government jobs during British rule. After independence this group dominated over administration as well as business in Pakistan. Liaqat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan was their principal leader. In the beginning, many of Pakistan's top bureaucrats were Urdu speaking and exercised a high degree of influence over the country in the early formative years. This 'immigrants bureaucracy' relied on the support of the military elite, which hailed mainly from Punjab. This civil-military bureaucratic nexus brought Punjabis and Urdu speakers close to each other.

This group is supposed to be a threat for Sindh's culture and its language. It is because of two reasons: First, linguistic differences i.e. the imposition of Urdu as the national language by the ruling class on other linguistic groups, which alienated the Sindhis, and the sense of cultural pride and superiority of the Muhajirs who never failed to overplay their contribution in the creation of Pakistan, and thus, aspired to be treated with reverence. This is the reason why the Muhajirs's resistance to assimilation has been so strong that there is hardly any common societal ground to meet the cultural parameters of different communities staying in Karachi. The linguistic factors added more to this divergence. In 1948, about 1300 Sindhi medium schools were closed in Pakistan.3 Another aspect was related to the new regulation of quota system4 for jobs. (see table No-1)

Table 1. QUOTA STATISTICS

Province Quota Actual

Punjab 50,00 48.95

NWFP 11.50 12.12

Balochistan 3.50 3.80

Northern Areas 4.00 0.82

AJK 2.00 1.55

Sindh-rural 11.40 9.70

Sindh-urban 7.60 23.40

Thus the social gap between the two communities of Sindh widened with the linguistic and cultural differences. After some time this aggravated the ethnic and regional divide between the old Sindhi and new Sindhi (immigrants). Perceiving Sindhi's as their main rivals, most of the Urdu speakers were inclined to activate their working relationship with the Punjabis instead of Sindhis. Very few of them joined the People's Party led by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, an ethnic Sindhi. The majority of Urdu speakers supported either the Muslim League or religious parties especially the Jamait-e-Islami5 because of historical background. The Muslim League was responsible for the creation of Pakistan on the basis of the two-nation theory and Muhajirs are the outcome of this. When the bill pronouncing Sindhi as the official language of the province was moved in the Sindh Provincial Assembly in June 1972, there was great resentment by the Urdu speakers resulting in riots. Many Sindhis already outnumbered by other ethnic groups especially Muhajirs in the big cities, were forced to leave their homes. At this time the demand for creation of a Karachi province, or to incorporate Karachi in Balochistan were also raised by some Urdu speaking intellectuals,6 who are mainly concentrated in the cities of Karachi and Hyderabad. As a result of this domination conflict erupted between the local and the non-local groups. The Sindhi elite feared hindrance in career advancement and economic opportunities.

It is also strange that the Urdu speaking migrants from India who are responsible for the making of Pakistan have not been assimilated into the mainstream of Pakistan. They are being discriminated against in employment and education. They are not getting their proper share in political power. They are still treated as refugees (Muhajir Qaum). They are mostly dominated over in urban Sindh. For gaining their rights, they formed a political organisation called Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM). From a student organisation it graduated to a political party.

In 1984 Zia-ul Haq encouraged the Urdu speaking minority in forming the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) under the leadership of Altaf Hussain and Karachi became its operational base.7 Zia's interest in encouraging the MQM and providing it with training and firearms was two-fold. First, it was seen to be a counterpoise to the Pakistan People's Party in the big cities of Sindh.8 Second, it aimed to divide Sindh on ethnic lines.9 In the 1985 non-party elections the MQM won with an overwhelming majority in the big cities of the Sindh province and later, it became a powerful organisation and emerged as the third largest party in Pakistan politics. Sindhis have become hostile to this group. The MQM's stronghold over Karachi was proved in its past electoral success. It is not only a threat to the electoral prospect of PPP but to the PML also. The Pakistan government, instead of resolving the grievances of Mohajirs is always trying to suppress them by force, due to which problem, a civil war like situation has erupted in Karachi.

During Benazir Bhutto's rule ethnic violence had reached the proportions of a civil war. The army launched Operation Clean-up on June 19, 1992, to eliminate dacoits, saboteurs and terrorists. Estimates of the death toll and other casualties vary and gory dimensions of violence were common in Karachi during her tenure. Over 1800 persons died of violence in the first eleven months of 1995. Altaf Hussain, the MQM, leader blamed Benazir's government and army for large scale violence in Sindh. He said, since the army was against the Muhajirs no political leaders, either Ms Bhutto or Mr Sharif dare sympathize with them. He stated that injustice could be removed to some extent if the Muhajirs were given a separate province.10

Sectarian Violence

The other factor, which is responsible for recent killings in Karachi is the conflict between the two Muslim sects, Shia and Sunni. This can be attributed to the flourishing madrassas funded by foreign donations to further their interest in Pakistan. The sectarian violence has assumed alarming proportions with armed attacks on religious leaders and places of worship. Some of the Sunnis have formed a militant organisation called Sipahi-e-Sahaba Party (SSP) whilst the Shia's have formed the Tahrik-Jafri Party. Both blame each other for the domestic violence.11

The recent killing of 12 Shias in an attack on an Imambarah in Karachi followed by the assassination of a leading Shia leader in Gujranwala again came to pose a threat to the peace and security of the country. The atmosphere of intolerance in the society is becoming intensified, leading to more uncertainty. Some of the promoters of sectarian violence have been arrested but not all of them are brought to trial for their acts of terrorism. Many of the front ranking activists of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is suspected to have been behind many of the religious assassinations, remained at large though they carried considerable rewards on their head.

In Pakistan the names Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jangvi strike terror in the hearts of the locals. People do whisper about the alleged involvement of a local madrassah, allied to a jihadi organisation, but no one can dare to say so openly. "How can I speak against them when I know they can kill me and my children whenever they like"12 says one person, looking towards the small graveyard where 11 of the 16 victims have been buried. "We had often talked about building a hospital here, a college and a park that would attract people from the other villages," says M Zulfiqar a lawyer in Qureshi, "what we have instead is a new graveyard."13

Intra Muhajir Violence

There is also factional strife between the mainstream Altaf group of the MQM and its rival Haqiqi group led by Afaq Ahmad. The split in MQM took place in 1991, only because of a personality clash between two ambitious men who aimed to outmanoeuver each other in achieving their common goals. On the other side the federal agencies (the political wing of the ISI & Military Intelligence (MI)) were involved in creating differences among the MQM for political gain. In 1991 when the Haqiqi attempted to take over Landhi, a fierce clash between MQM and Haqiqi supporters resulted. The splinter group had differences, reportedly after Afaq Ahmad insisted that the Muhajir's party broaden its base to include other ethnic groups, a ploy which was resisted by its leader, Altaf Hussain. Whatever the reason, the split turned the streets of Karachi into war zones with each group having its core areas.

The March 23 killing in which 19 persons were killed shows that, militants belonging to Altaf Hussain's MQM and the Haqiqi group once again roamed Karachi's killing streets with their well-oiled assault weapons. What was even more horrifying was the fact that while one of the parties involved was part of the provincial and federal administrations, the other enjoyed the unofficial patronage of the paramilitary forces. Dead bodies bearing marks of torture were stuffed into gunny bags and dumped on the streets while some localities of the strife-torn city ground to a complete stand still. Both MQM groups (Altaf & Haqiqi) were quick to point the finger of blame at each other. Both laid claim to some of the victims, while the administration remained a silent spectator. The local administration, intelligence agencies and political parties concerned also proved totally incompetent. While those in power are clearly to blame for this sorry state of affairs, those out of it share some responsibility as well. But none of the parties in question appear willing to make a concerted effort to restore peace to the city permanently.

Easy Availability of Arms

In carrying out these assassinations and other acts of violence, highly sophisticated weapons were used. It was widely believed that a large portion of all the weapons supplied to Afghan Mujahideen fighters through CIA reached the private markets all over Pakistan. Pakistani officials have been quoted in April 1988, as saying that up to half of the arms from the US and elsewhere intended for the Afghan Mujahideen forces are siphoned off in Pakistan or are sold back into the country by the Mujahideen. These officials also estimated the country's illegal stock of Kalashnikov rifles to be 135000.14 By the mid-1980s, a Kalashnikov was available for hire. Wedding parties used it to fire in the air during marriage ceremonies and as gifts on particular occassions.15 Alongwith this many skilled gunsmiths in Pakistan have also been able to make copies of these imported guns; as an old man of Darra (NWFP) Abdul Khan claimed, "we can copy any gun in the world".16 It has increased the supply of arms in the market on one hand and cut their prices on the other. For instance the 12 bore shotgun was sold for Rs. 4,000 while the legal sector sold it for three times that price.17 The Kalashnikov which in the early 1980s had been prohibitively expensive (priced at 30,000-40,000) fell to Rs 18,000-26,000 a piece, while the more common Chinese brand was priced even lower at Rs 13,000-15,000. Kalashnikovs of Egyptian and Czech origin were also available.18 This factor has brought the price of arms within the reach of a very large number of Pakistanis. Arms bazars of Darra Adam Khel (near Peshawer)19 and Karachi have attained international publicity. The easy availability of these arms has also naturally increased their use. In the ethnic riots of Karachi and other places in recent years, these arms have been freely used, resulting in the dangerous expansion of law and order problems.20

The Sindh Problem and Nawaz Sharif Rule

In 1997, Nawaz Sharif came to power with a massive mandate with the support of the MQM. He promised that he would maintain peace in Karachi at any cost and was also ready to make great sacrifices to see that end is served satisfactorily.

The primary responsibility of any type of government is to perform the following three functions:

(1) to provide a decent standard of living and employment to all its citizens,

(2) to ensure the security of life and property of every citizen without any discrimination,

(3) to prevent crime and to ensure that the operation of the legal system leads to the promotion of justice on the basis of equal opportunity.

Any government not successful in performing these functions should be made to relinquish power as soon as possible.

Mian Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister for the first time in 1990, and he was in power for at least two and a half years. The second time, on February 18, 1997, he took the oath of premiership again. Adding his two terms in office one finds that power remained vested in his hands for approximately five years. But the performance during his tenure was just like a dictator. For example:

1. Instead of ensuring the supply of food and giving employment to common people, he removed thousands from their respective jobs and stopped fresh recruitment. Besides, he also raised taxes, which caused the price of goods to rise. Due to this policy of suppression people had no choice except to commit suicide, nearly 1500 people out of despair and frustration committed suicide in nine months.21 As a housewife exploded in Saddar downtown of Karachi, "tell me how could I support Nawaz Sharif?" Yes I voted for him, but I hate to see him smiling on TV for what he and his army of ministers smile even after Kargil. I find it impossible to feed two children and pay their fees after paying my electricity bill. How come he is happy when the whole nation is facing agony day and night."22

2. He also failed to satisfactorily carry out his duty of ensuring the safety of the life and property of the citizens. During his tenure the percentage of killings (political and others) was much higher than what had been the case during the previous governments. About 1035 people were killed in Karachi during 1988; most of them were targets of terrorism. Noted philanthropist and former Sindh Governor Hakim Mohammad Said, former member of the National Assembly Zuhair Akram Nadeem, Chairman Pakistan Steel Sajjad Hussain, Chairman Board of Secondary Education Ismail Menon, 58 policemen, five army officials, and two members of the paramilitary rangers were among the victims.23 On March 23, 1998 Pakistan Day, 19 workers and supporters of both wings of the MQM were gunned down in different parts of the city, making this the single most gory day of the year. But the month of June was by far the deadliest with 171 murders.24

The cause of the bad law and order situation and political instability were because of differences between MQM & Muslim League and MQM & PPP. The political appointees who went there were not bold enough to take proper decisions because of fear for their life. Several groups of officials from the police, the intelligence agencies as well as the paramilitary rangers worked concurrently on their own agendas. There seemed to be little or no coordination between the various teams, which at times even appeared to be operating outside the knowledge of their superior officers.25

Some of the indiscriminate raids conducted recently, and the so-called confessions, extracted from alleged terrorists, suggest that law enforcers are now behaving like bounty hunters. Anyone suspected of being even remotely connected to the MQM's military wing is simply picked out, 'convinced' about the merits of taking full or partial responsibility for a particularly gory crime. The press is then informed of yet another 'triumph' on the Karachi front.26 It is also a fact that most of the complaints that were coming to the prime minister's 'Open Court' were mostly related to police atrocities.

Nawaz Sharif also failed in providing equal justice to the people of the country. The rate of crime increased during his period of rule. The relatives of those killed in the turmoil are still being denied justice, inspite of the existence of clear evidence and eyewitness accounts. No doubt he set up the Anti Terrorist Courts (ATCs) in September under the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) supposedly to provide speedy justice in terrorism related cases. But the proceedings of this court have raised serious doubt. Three courts were set up in Sindh—in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar. In the fifteen months since their establishment, out of the 244 cases sent to the court in Sindh, only 53 cases have been decided so far (Karachi 17, Hyderabad 23, Sukkar 13). Of these, there have been 38 convictions while there were eight acquittals.27 His desire to deliver "speedy justice" received a set back. His decision to set up military courts received a blow after the Supreme Court declared it as unconstitutional.

Throughout his second stint in office, expediency dominated Nawaz Sharif's political strategy, and his handling of the Karachi problem was no different. While the law and order situation in the city degenerated from bad to deplorable, the prime minister seemed more concerned with the complex task of appeasing his allies in the Sindh Assembly, the MQM. Thus preoccupied, he made no effort to even consider the grievances of the people of the province. At the same time, the government took a lenient view of members of the MQM accused of heinous crimes and a large number of party activists in detention were released on parole, sometimes in complete violation of due process. But even so, with neither side willing to trust the other, the MQM-PML marriage of convenience was destined to fail which it ultimately did.

Upto October 98, the reins of the government remained in the hands of the Muslim League Chief Minister Liyakat Jatoi. On October 30, 1998, however, the military was asked to intervene and the elected government was dismissed by invoking Article 232 (2) © on the strength of which Governor's rule was imposed without suspending the provincial legislature. But the speaker's authority to summon the assembly was suspended soon thereafter and during this time provincial legislators were prevented from entering the Sindh Assembly, effectively barring them from performing their duties. The Governor's rule lasted for approximately six months. After that, the administration of the province was taken over fully by the central government, with Sayed Ghous Ali Shah being appointed the PM's advisor on Sindh affairs and simultaneously, the Chief Executive of the Sindh province. An advisory board was formed for assisting him in the discharge of his duties. With the imposition of this non-democratic set-up, the people of Sindh were denied their fundamental rights. The entire province became a Punjabi colony28 and its main administrative officers, e.g. the provincial chief secretary, the financial secretary, the I.G., and the D.I.G. Karachi all belonged to the Punjab.

In the 1997 election, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) emerged as the largest party in Sindh Provincial Assembly, while MQM was placed in second position. Their total number of seats in the legislative assembly were sixty-two. Having succeeded in getting only fifteen of its members elected to the state legislative assembly, the Muslim League forced its way to power with the support of MQM, and PPP was prevented from forming the government. Their leaders and workers were thrown into prison and their political activities were interdicted. Charges of violence were levelled against their peaceful protest gatherings. The ex-federal ministers and provincial ministers, the members of parliament, members of the assembly and women workers all had to bear the brunt of state violence.

Since 1990, Karachi has twice gone through Operation Clean-up to deal with violence starting with the Sharif government's army operation in 1990, followed four years later by Benazir Bhutto's interior minister General Naseerullah Baber's brutal but effective drive against terrorism. Each time round Karachi slid into an uneasy calm which shattered the moment the operations were called off. Even now, under governor's rule, the situation is not half as good as the government would like every one to believe. After all the unexplained and violent death of 45 people including five policemen, three MQM supporters and three army personnel in the five months of governor's rule can hardly be called peace. This also gives a clear indication that a political problem needs a political solution and a not a military one. The MQM has accused the government of victimisation. Altaf Hussain blamed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the deteriorating law and order situation.

The government policy of depriving people of their jobs is continuing. The policy of leaving the posts of teachers vacant in schools as well as colleges has made the future of students bleak. Most of the developmental works have been suspended under the plea of insufficient funds at the governments disposal. On one hand there are difficulties caused by high prices and unemployment and on the other, the problem of the police force indulging in atrocities against the common people in broad daylight is adding to the existing problem. In addition, the government was negligent in carrying out its duty of keeping the people well supplied with water and electricity. There is a shortage of water in many areas of Karachi. Despite all the steps and programmes announced and implemented by the administration from time to time, many areas of Karachi are without proper water supply. The people in the rest of Sindh face shortages and uneven distribution of irrigation water and lack of clean drinking water.

The problem of water shortage has been compounded by the problem of power shortage which is affecting the whole of Sindh. The problem is particularly grave in Karachi where massive breakdowns keep major parts of the city in darkness for hours. This includes the industrial areas where power breakdowns gravely affect the industrial production giving a crushing blow to the economy.

The contradiction in the statement and actions of various authorities adds to the present confusion regarding the state of affairs in Sindh. Ex-Governors Moeen Haider said that he had succeeded in bringing back peace to Karachi. The chief executive also appreciated his contribution to the restoration of peace. On the occasion of Nawaz Sharif's arrival in Karachi, the I.G. Sindh, Rana Maqbool (who was very close to the PM) claimed to have crushed terrorism forever and declared that the Karachi situation was by and large calm and quiet. There was no sign of any large-scale trouble. But the very next day, Nawaz Sharif declared that he had imposed restrictions on the entry of foreigners into Karachi, owing to the continuation of disturbances there. According to some opposition leaders this statement by the P.M. signified a big slap on the face of the I.G.

But some observers feel that the situation in Karachi has really improved in comparison to that of Lahore, the PM's hometown, which has the highest murder rate in the country. [See Table-2].

Table 2. Murders in Karachi & Lahore from Jan 1 to Sept 30, 1998

Month Karachi Lahore

Jan 69 143

Feb 67 97

Mar 74 123

April 81 122

May 113 177

June 175 132

July 62 225

Aug 119 112

Sept 101 99

Total 861 1230

Source: Govt of Pakistan, Interior Ministry (Herald Nov-Dec 1998, pp. 32.)

Given the factual reality one needs to understand why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was raising a false alarm. The following reasons can be attributed:

l To avoid acquiescing to the demand for the restoration of democracy and the removal of emergency which was promulgated after Pakistan's nuclear test in 1998.

l To keep away capitalists from investing in Karachi. The basic aim of the Premier could be to destroy the industrial base of Karachi and to divert the flow of investment towards Punjab. About 1250 units had reportedly been closed in the province.29

l To avoid the emergence of circumstances under which the Sindhi people, instead of asking for more political rights, would demand full share in the government, that would make it more difficult for the government to provide new incentives and resources for Punjab.

Sindh has been brutally crushed, both politically as well as economically. There is no constitution, no rule of law, the principle of might is right is reigning supreme. Officers of dubious reputation were posted there for escalating violence and not for promoting peace. The national interest was bartered for petty factional gains. The purpose of raising the slogan of maintaining peace in Karachi at any cost was just to make a fool of the international community and give currency to the false notion that the government was trying very hard to bring back peace. However, the people are fully aware of Punjabi atrocities against the Sindhis. The ex-Sindh Governor General Moeen Haider also said, "that the central government was not giving to Sindh its proper share of resources. The State Bank has never refused Punjab's cheque, while it always refuses to make payment to Sindh".30 The Chief Executive of Sindh, Ghous Ali Shah also admitted that, "the portions of development budget which should have gone to the share of Sindh has been allocated to Punjab and also admitted that the capital kept being diverted to Punjab from Sindh due to continuation of violence there".31 But he does not have the courage to admit that the Punjab bureaucracy, especially some particular officials belonging to it, were involved in fomenting trouble in Sindh.

If Nawaz Sharif was really sincere in his statement that he was ready to make sacrifices for peace in Karachi, he should have restored democracy and called back all his Punjabi officials. Instead he said that there would be no change in the administrative set-up in the province of Sindh and he was quite pleased with Ghous Ali's performance. However, General Moeen Haider admitted that, "it would not be possible to achieve good results within the existing administrative set up."32

Another MQM leader Altaf Hussain says that "the people of Sindh would ask for right of self determination if they are denied an autonomous province by the fascist rulers of Punjab."33 He emphasised that MQM was still wedded to attaining "our due constitutional and fundamental rights within the geographical boundaries of Pakistan." According to him the feudal lords in the province were the agents of corrupt Punjabi leadership. If their influence was not weakened, Sindh would become a colony of Punjab."34

Despite having a massive mandate in the National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif had failed to prove himself as the true national leader. So far, his opponents claim that this has resulted in anti-Lahore feelings in the other provinces, spearheaded by angry and restless people of Sindh. Due to his ill-advised policies, Nawaz Sharif has made some people realise that the federal government is out to destroy Sindh politically and socially. It has given a free hand to all who can play havoc with Sindh.

Political life had become more chaotic and dangerous with dozens of parties; some with armed militias seeking a change. Religious parties and Jehadist groups were promising an Islamic revolution to be brought about, perhaps by violent means. More traditionalist politicians, usually ultra conservative were by and large looking up to the army to somehow send the government packing. That happened on October 12, 1999, when General Pervez Musharraf took over by removing the Nawaz Sharif government.

Conclusion

The rulers are to be blamed for all these difficulties. They behave like they are the state, and can change or amend the law to suit themselves. When the whole nation was suffering the pain of the Kargil defeat, PML leaders were unnecessarily celebrating it as a victory. Defaulter leadership of the country was craving to produce an army of defaulters with Mera Ghar scheme after failing in the Yellow Cab scheme of the first Nawaz era. His government should have provided jobs instead of loans. Nawaz Sharif himself should have got rid of his personal and national loans. He should have made a new start, he could do it because people were with him, but he used his power and strength for the development of Punjab and its people and ignored Sindh, Baluchistan and NWFP.

In Karachi, cold-blooded murder, kidnapping, looting and car theft have become commonplace. The situation is now at its worst, and will deteriorate further as long as illegal weapons are in the possession of criminal elements who are allowed to roam free and as long as compromises continue to be made at the expense of the larger interest.

Although Pakistan calls itself an Islamic State, crime, especially terrorism, is increasing daily. Several Ullema, politicians, actors and great personalities have been brutally murdered during the last decade, and each successive government has failed to put an end to such acts of terrorism. Countless innocent people have also lost their lives in mosques, courts, imambargahs and graveyards.

Now, it should be the primary responsibility of the present military government headed by General Pervez Musharraf to alleviate the sense of alienation among smaller provinces, particularly Sindh. Altaf Hussain's MQM had complained to the army against persecution and extra judicial killings of its members by security forces during the tenure of previous governments. Recently an emissary of Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf has dashed to London to confer with Altaf Hussain. It seems that given the present political scenario, the army will not take recourse to a confrontationist approach towards MQM. It is likely that while negotiating with MQM, the military rulers will make some concession to garner greater acceptance to its rule. But any concession can only be viable if it contains a pragmatic and realistic approach in dealing with the grievances of the people of Sindh rather than by a piecemeal approach.

 

Notes

1. Mahtab Ali Shah, "The Emergence of the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan and its Implication for Regional Security," the Round Table, The Commonwealth Journal Of International Affairs, London. Issue 348, October 1998. P. 506.

2. Ibid.

3. Mohammad Wasseem, Politics and State in Pakistan (Islamabad, 1994), p. 109.

4. In 1973, a job-quota system was provided for a period of ten years, in 1983 it was extended for another ten years, through a presidential order by General Zia-ul-Haq. The new lease also expired on September 14, 1993, but the government continued with the existing practice of allocating jobs at the federal level on a quota basis. Ten per cent of the total jobs are allocated on the basis of merit. (Divide & Rule, by Ali Hasan, The Herald, February 1999, p. 49.

5. Ibid. p. 507.

6. Daily, Jung in Urdu, Karachi, June 4, 1972.

7. Ayesha Jalal, 'Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia' Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, p. 107-108.

8. Salamat Ali, 'Soldiers and Spooks,' Far Eastern Economic Review November 10, 1998, p. 36.

9. Daily Hilali Pakistan, Sindh, Karachi September 27, 1992.

10. The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, December 18, 1994.

11. The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, November 26, 1994.

12. The Herald, Pakistan, February, 1999. P. 68.

13. Ibid.

14. The Financial Times, London, April 7, 1998, cited in 'Pakistan Zia and After' Anthony Hyman, M. Chaur Naresh Kaushik, Abhinav Publication, New Delhi, 1989, p. 114.

15. Tara Kartha, Light Weapons and India's Security, Knowledge World, January, 1999, Delhi.

16. Ayesha Siddiqui, "Management of Light Weapons Production in the Private Sector," paper presented at the BASIC conference, London, July-4-5, 1996.

17. The International Herald, Washington, November, 1977.

18. Rahimullah Yusufzai, "The Frontier Connection," in POT, vol. XVIII, no. 199, October 23, 1989.

19. Darra is a shopping center for handmade weapons, with more than 100 tiny stores selling arms. For generations, the tough Pathan tribesmen who roam the rugged brown hills around here have been buying their guns in Darra, supporting a thriving small industry in which the skills of making a particular model, or even a particular gun part, are passed from father to son.

20. Cited, no. 12.

21. The Asian Age, New Delhi, October 8, 1999.

22. The Nation, Pakistan, August 30, 1999.

23. The Herald Annual, January 1999, p. 73.

24. Ibid.

25. The Herald, Pakistan, November-December, 1998, p. 31.

26. Ibid.

27. Azhar Abbas, 'Courting Justice', The Herald, Pakistan, February 1999, p. 30-31.

28. Punjab enjoyed the lion's share in terms of power and influence, that developed a sense of discrimination and ethnic regional intolerance in the minds of depressed and exploited people of Baluchistan, Pakhtoon and Sindh. The breaking away of the eastern wing (Bangladesh) made the dominance of Punjab even more striking in comparison with the other provinces. Punjab is more inclined to status-quo than other regions of the country.

29. The Pakistan Times, Islamabad, November 14, 1999.

30. Daily AMN (Urdu) Karachi, October 1, 1999.

31. Ibid.

32. Ibid.

33. The Times of India, New Delhi, August 7, 1999.

34. Ibid.