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Cafe Black: The last bastion


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A cultural centre near the shrine of Sufi saint, Shah Abdul Lateef in Bhit Shah, Sindh.
A cultural centre near the shrine of Sufi saint, Shah Abdul Lateef in Bhit Shah, Sindh.

During the previous PPP-led government, plans were afoot to build the world’s first ever international Sufi university near Bhit Shah in Sindh(1).

The main purpose of the institution was stated to promote interfaith and intercultural education to tackle religious extremism in the country.

Such a thought and project could only have come about in Sindh. Especially in the context of what Pakistan has been going through in the last many years.

Not only have the country’s other provinces – especially the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and Sindh’s capital, Karachi – become central targets of horrid terrorist attacks by extremist organisations, the Punjab province in particular has been witnessing a steady growth of faith-based conservatism within its urban middle and lower middle-classes.

When extremists (calling themselves ‘Punjabi Taliban’) attacked the famous Sufi shrine, Data Darbar, in Lahore in 2010, economist and political analyst, Asad Sayeed, made a rather insightful observation.

He said that had such an attack on the Darbar taken place 20 years ago, thousands of Lahorites would have poured out to protest.

But not anymore. The attack on one of Punjab’s most popular Sufi shrines was simply treated as just another terrorist attack.

The aftermath of the 2010 Data Darbar attack in Lahore.
The aftermath of the 2010 Data Darbar attack in Lahore.

Though it is now clear that extremists from within the ‘Wahabi’and Deobandi strands of the faith have been going around blowing up Sufi shrines frequented by the majority (and the more moderate) Barelvi Muslims, the Barelvi leadership has mostly looked elsewhere, putting the blame on the ever-elusive ‘foreign hands.’

Journalist and intellectual Khaled Ahmed once wrote a telling tongue-in-cheek article about the annual gathering of the Dawat-i-Islami in Multan.

The Dawat is the Barelvi equivalent of the Deobandi Tableeghi Jamat. Both outfits are considered to be non-political organisations that are more interested in evangelising their respective versions of Islam and its rituals.

One should also mention that both these strains of Islam accuse each another of being ‘flawed Muslims.’

Ahmed wrote(2) how after Dawat’s huge congregation in Multan, when police found some bullet-riddled bodies of Dawat members, the outfit’s main leadership simply refused to acknowledge the glaring evidence that pointed towards the involvement of an opposing Sunni sect’s organisation in the murders.

Ahmed adds that Dawat leaders began babbling about ‘outside forces (RAW, CIA, Mossad)’ who wanted to create disharmony between Pakistan’s Barelvi majority and the Deobandi and Wahabi sects.

One can understand the above-mentioned episode as an example of the confusion Barelvi spiritual leadership has gone through since the 1980s.

From its inception in the 19th century(3) and until about the mid-1980s, the Barelvi sect was largely apolitical in orientation, non-Jihadist and followers of some of the most relaxed dictates of the Hanafi madhab.

‘Barelvi Islam’ (as it is sometimes called) is purely a South Asian phenomenon(4) that fuses elements of South Asian Sufism with the folk and populist strains of various cultures that exist in the area.

It is also called the ‘folk Islam’ of the region in which a high degree of tolerance exists between various faiths, sects, classes and ethnicities and in which the puritanical aspects of other Islamic sects are eschewed and even rejected.

The Sufi shrine and an intense reverence of the Prophet play a central role in Barelvi Islam. Its populist and moderate make-up helped it become the majority Sunni sect amongst the Muslims of South Asia.

Two of its leading opponents have been the Sunni Deobandi sect (also a product of South Asia) and the Puritanical Saudi-inspired ‘Wahabism.’

Both have accused Barelvis of ‘adopting non-Muslim rituals and practices’ and assorted ‘heresies.’

In spite of being the majority sect amongst Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, ‘Barelvi Islam’ hardly ever had a coherent political expression in shape of a mass-based political party or organisation.

Its spiritual leadership largely remained pro-Jinnah (unlike most Deobandi organisations of undivided India), and various Pakistani political leaders have continued to appeal to the symbolism and lingo associated with various populist aspects of Barelvi-ism.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was the most successful in this respect.

Bhutto was also one of the first leading Pakistani political figures to popularise the act of regularly visiting famous Sufi shrines in Sindh and the Punjab.

ZA Bhutto showering rose petals on the grave of Sufi saint, Data Ganj Bakhsh, in Lahore (1974).
ZA Bhutto showering rose petals on the grave of Sufi saint, Data Ganj Bakhsh, in Lahore (1974).

Barelvis are in the majority in Sindh and the Punjab(5) , whereas Deobandis are largely centred in KPK and in the Pushtun-dominated areas of Balochistan.

Until the 1970s Barelvi-ism also prevailed among many of Sindh and Punjab’s urban middle-classes, especially those who considered themselves to be progressive and likely supporters of secular politics.

However, the arrangement in this context was suddenly disturbed with the arrival of the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in 1977.

Dipped in the political Islam of scholar and founder of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-Islami (JI), Abul Ala Mauddudi, Zia soon moved towards infiltrating the spiritual and political nerve centres of Barelvi-ism in an attempt to ‘reform’ them.

Founder of the Jamat-i-Islami, and one of the main architects of 20th century ‘Political Islam,’ Abul Ala Maududi was a huge influence on General Ziaul Haq.
Founder of the Jamat-i-Islami, and one of the main architects of 20th century ‘Political Islam,’ Abul Ala Maududi was a huge influence on General Ziaul Haq.

Stunned by the ‘Islamic revolution’ in the Shia-dominated Iran in 1979, Saudi Arabian monarchy and its ‘Wahabi’ Sunni religious elite began seeing Pakistan’s Barelvi-dominated make-up as vulnerable to Shia-ism’s revolutionary symbolism.

At least that was one of the reasons used by Zia and his Saudi allies to draw the United States into giving Pakistan billions of dollars worth of aid and arms – apart from the fact that Soviet forces had invaded neighbouring Afghanistan in December 1979.

With the aid also came ‘Wahabi’ propaganda literature and the elevation of clerics who began setting up madressas and mosques.

These madressas operated as institutions that would indoctrinate young Pakistanis – most of whom were immersed in the non-Jihadi traditions of Barelvi-ism – and prepare them for Jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan(6) .

Zia also began describing famous Sufi saints as ulema and banned (in the media) all criticism and humour aimed at the clergy.

The Afghan war, Saudi propaganda, the mushrooming of Deobandi and ‘Wahabi’ madressas and televangelists, and a concentrated campaign by the Zia regime to equate the dictatorship’s corporate-Islamist makeup as something in accordance with the Shariah had a telling impact on Pakistan’s religious sociology.

In the KPK many moderate and progressive Deobandi strands that had prevailed in the province began sliding into the sect’s more radical dictates, coming closer to the puritanical ‘Wahabi’ and Salafi ideas about faith.

This slide was celebrated by the Zia dictatorship as a successful blow to the secular and ‘treacherous’ Pushtun separatist tendencies.

In the Punjab, the province benefited the most from Zia’s Punjab-centric capitalist manoeuvres. This coupled with unprecedented remittances coming from Pakistanis who had begun travelling to the Gulf States for work from the 1970s onwards, gave birth to new moneyed classes.

Many from the petty-bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie sections began moving away from their Barelvi heritage and towards the more puritanical strains of faith.

Their Barelvi past now reminded them of their economic modesty, and consequently they began relating their enhanced economic standing with the adoption of the more puritanical strands of the faith that they came across in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Many urban Pakistanis began reflecting their enhanced economic standing with the adoption of the more puritanical strands of the faith that they came across in countries like Saudi Arabia.
Many urban Pakistanis began reflecting their enhanced economic standing with the adoption of the more puritanical strands of the faith that they came across in countries like Saudi Arabia.

That’s why the growth of Islamist and sectarian organisations in the Punjab and KPK under Zia, was whole-heartedly supplemented by local funding coming from Punjab’s nouveau-riche and petty-bourgeois trader classes.

Interestingly, it was also the same classes that also pushed the Barelvi leadership to become more conservative and radical.

Those sections of the Punjabi petty-bourgeoisie that stuck to Barelvi-ism encouraged their spiritual leadership to compete with the Puritanism and radicalism of the growing influence of Deobandi and ‘Wahabi’ groups.

This trend saw the first ever emergence of radical Barelvi groups. In the early 1980s, the Dawat-i-Islami was formed to counterbalance the growth of the Deobandi Tableeghi Jamaat that had begun making deep inroads into Punjab and KPK’s bourgeoisie and the military.

Lieutenant-General Javed Nasir was Director General of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, from 1992 till may 1993. He was also a committed member of the Tableeghi Jamat.
Lieutenant-General Javed Nasir was Director General of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, from 1992 till may 1993. He was also a committed member of the Tableeghi Jamat.

The Dawat discouraged the Barelvis from indulging in antics associated with the region’s folk Islam, emphasising an increased reverence of holy personalities and encouraging holding of recitals of just naats and milads instead of quwalis and *dhamals**(7)* that have been integral parts of ‘folk Islam’ in South Asia.

1992 saw the formation of the Sunni Tehreek (ST). A militant Barelvi outfit that emerged from the splintering of one of the oldest Barelvi Islamic political party, the Jamiat Ulema Pakistan (JUP).

Such occurrences did not really help the Barelvi sect defend its traditions in the face of the state-sponsored Deobandi and Wahabi onslaught - rather, these organisations began turning Barelvi-ism into an equally anti-pluralistic and militant political phenomenon.

By the 1990s, Zia’s manoeuvres and Saudi involvement in reshaping Pakistan’s religious tradition had already seen KPK and Punjab become hostage to various violent Deobandi militant and extremist outfits and new-born Barelvi reactionary-ism.

Leaders of the Sunni Tehreek at a party rally in Karachi
Leaders of the Sunni Tehreek at a party rally in Karachi

The Punjab also saw a rise in the use of reactionary political and religious narratives within its lower-middle and middle-classes, whereas in Balochistan attempts were being made (allegedly by the ‘establishment’) to neutralize secular Baloch nationalist militancy with the help of both puritanical evangelical as well as militant outfits.

This had already been done successfully in KPK in the 1980s.

But Sindh …

But what happened in Sindh? Barelvi-ism in Sindh (outside of its capital Karachi) has always been a lot more secular and pluralistic than the Barelvi-ism in the Punjab.

The strand’s sociology in Sindh heavily revolves around the staunchly secular historicity that the province’s famous scholar, GM Syed’s literary works generated.

He described a highly pluralistic and secular reading of Sufism as being the cultural and religious heritage of the Sindhis and it is this narrative that still rules the roost in the province’s social and religious psyche.

A 1979 poster of Sindhi scholar and nationalist, GM Syed.
A 1979 poster of Sindhi scholar and nationalist, GM Syed.

This is one of the reasons why Zia almost completely failed to impose his version of Islam here. Also, just like the majority of the Baloch who equate puritanical Islam with the ‘Punjabi elite,’ so does the socio-political discourse in Sindh(8).

On the other hand, in Karachi, though Zia-backed Deobandi and Wahabi radical outfits did manage to find a foothold, two things have always worked against these outfits here.

The first is the fact that the sprawling ethnic, sectarian and religious diversity found in Karachi actually absorbs and neutralises any attempt by an outfit to impose its version of Islam.

Secondly, MQM, a party that first emerged as a mohajir nationalist group, adopted almost the same populist Barelvi symbolism and lingo as Bhutto did in the 1970s.

Also, the other major political party in the city too is secular (in Pakistan’s context): the PPP.

Though the Sunni Thereek (ST) has managed to infiltrate some sections of MQM’s support base, ST is Barelvi and anti-Taliban (albeit equally reactionary).

In spite of the rampant crime and ethnic tensions that are a constant in Karachi, it will not be an overstatement to suggest that the rest of Sindh today stands to be perhaps the only sanctuary in present-day Pakistan that is (comparatively-speaking) largely free of the factors that have created opportunities in the Punjab and KP for violent extremist activity and socio-political conservatism.

Sindh: The last bastion?

Last year newspapers reported a series of bomb attacks on railway tracks in the Sindh province.

The attacks were owned by an obscure organisation called the Sindhudesh Liberation Front.

The name took a lot of non-Sindhis by surprise. Why would there be an angry Sindhi movement when there have already been two Sindhi prime ministers and, what’s more, a Sindhi president is currently at the helm of the federation?

However, according to Sindhi nationalists, the original architect of Sindhi nationalism, the late G M Syed, is back in vogue amongst the new generation of Sindhi nationalists.

A T-Shirt that has become popular among young educated Sindhis.
A T-Shirt that has become popular among young educated Sindhis.

Back in the 1960s, G M Syed, an accomplished scholar and politician, painstakingly constructed an elaborate historical narrative of Sindh and its people.

It presented Sindh as an ancient land whose people have always been one of the most pluralistic and secular under both Hindu as well as Muslim rule.

The narrative goes on to suggest that during the long Muslim rule in the region, Sindh’s pluralistic tradition was carried on by a number of Muslim mystics (Sufi saints) and Sindhis have continued to demonstrate a passionate attachment to these mystics.

Syed’s narratives on Sindh may now have become common knowledge to most Pakistanis, but this was not always the case.

In fact, just like Pashtun nationalist, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and many Baloch nationalist thinkers, Syed too was constantly put on the spot by the state for preaching anti-Pakistan and ‘anti-Islam’ ideas.

Syed was a magnet for all sorts of ironies. During the Pakistan Movement he steadfastly stood with Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. But soon after independence, he became one of the first prominent men to decry the hegemony of the ‘Punjab-dominated elite’ over other provinces.

Another irony that Syed could never reconcile his politics with was the Bhutto phenomenon.

Z A. Bhutto, a Sindhi, and his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), experienced a sudden, meteoric rise (in the late 1960s) when Syed’s narrative had begun to take hold among Sindhi youth.

Syed did not applaud Bhutto’s rise in spite of the fact that Bhutto was a Sindhi and a declared progressive.

Bhutto’s Federalist-nationalistic rhetoric did not sit well with Syed. To Syed if one brushed off Bhutto’s leftist notions from the surface, underneath was a man wilfully doing the bidding of the ‘Punjabi ruling elite’.

Syed’s analysis had deemed Pakistan to be a state that was destined to fragment. And just like his Baloch, Pashtun and Bengali nationalist contemporaries, Syed too blamed the myopic politics of the ruling elite for this.

He accused the civil and military members of the said elite for undermining the cultural histories and traditions of the many ethnicities that resided in Pakistan.

He accused them of imposing upon the ‘oppressed ethnicities’ a cosmetic version of nationhood.

Syed’s suspicion of Bhutto turned hostile when Bhutto used a constitutional process to reinforce the kind of nationhood and faith Syed had accused the establishment of imposing.

To Bhutto it was the dictatorial way that this concept of nationhood had been imposed that made East Pakistan break away (1971) and repulsed the non-Punjabi ethnicities. Syed disagreed. To him Bhutto was merely giving ‘Punjabi hegemony’ a constitutional sheen. In 1973 Syed finally called for an independent Sindh (‘Sindhudesh’).

Graffiti in on a wall in Dadu calling for an Independent ‘Sindhudesh’.
Graffiti in on a wall in Dadu calling for an Independent ‘Sindhudesh’.

In April 1979 when, through a sham trial, the Ziaul Haq dictatorship sent Bhutto to the gallows, Syed termed Bhutto’s tragic demise as a great loss to the establishment.

Mocking the establishment’s arrogance Syed remarked, ‘today they (the establishment) have killed their own, best man.’

With Bhutto out of the way and a reactionary Punjabi general ruling the roost, did Syed finally make Sindhis rise up for Sindhudesh?

No. Even though Sindhis did rise up, especially during the 1983 anti-Zia MRD movement led by the PPP in which hundreds were killed, Syed did not support the uprising.

This time another Bhutto had appeared, Benazir. To Syed here was another popular Sindhi who was willing to clean up yet another mess created by the establishment so the federation could be saved - a federation Syed had no hope in.

But why has the federalist PPP continued to win elections in Sindh instead of the Sindhi nationalists?

In the 2013 election, the PPP once again swept Sindh. One theory attributes the PPP’s victory in the province to its former government's ambitious social welfare scheme, the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

The scheme had largely benefitted peasant and working-class women. Consequently, these women ventured out (many for the first time) to vote. Voting in droves for the PPP, their votes strengthened the party’s traditional vote-bank in the province and gave it the edge that it needed to ward-off the challenge posed by the desperate alliance of conservative and pro-establishment PML-F and some Sindhi nationalist parties.

Another observation suggests that by voting heavily for the PPP, the Sindhis usually vote rationally because they are aware that their best access to mainstream centres of decision-making and influence still lies by way of the PPP.

This observation also goes on to add an ethic dimension to it by further suggesting that to most Sindhis the PPP offers the best balance between the Sindhis’ practical need to remain attached to Federalism and their inherent Sindhi nationalist sentiment. Other large mainstream parties like the PML-N are still viewed as an extension of ‘Punjabi hegemony’ here.

Women at a PPP rally in Hyderabad, Sindh.
Women at a PPP rally in Hyderabad, Sindh.

Recently a young Sindhi (and PPP voter) told me that the ‘establishment’ has started playing a game in Sindh which even the PPP won’t be able to check.

On further inquiry he explained that some sections of the ‘establishment’ believe that they can subdue Sindhi nationalism the way they did Pashtun nationalism and the way they are trying to suppress Baloch nationalism, i.e. by crudely injecting a puritanical strain of Islam into what are almost entirely secular nationalisms.

‘Look what has happened in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?’ The young Sindhi asked. ‘Look how sectarian organisations are roaming freely in Balochistan. They (the ‘establishment’) are now helping fanatics to build madressas in Sindh as well so that Syed Sain’s legacy and those of the Sufis in Sindh can be replaced by mullahs and extremists’.

To this young Sindhi, Sindhudesh Liberation Movement, is a reaction to this.

‘Sufi University to be set up in Bhit Shah’:

Khalid Ahmed, Pakistan: The State in Crises (Venguard, 2002) p.38

Pnina Werbner, Pilgrims of Love, (C Hurst Publishing, 2003) p 242

Barelvi Islam:

Eamon Murphy, The Making of Terrorism in Pakistan, (Routledge, 2012) p.24

Irfan Husain, Fatal Fault Lines, (Arc Manor LLC, 2012) p.201

Anjana Narayan, Bandana Purkayastha, Living Our Religions, (Kumarian Press, 2009) p.75

Farhan Hanif, The Politics of Ethnicity in Pakistan (Routledge, 2012) p.79

Michiel Baud, Rosanne Rutten, Intellectuals & Social Movements, (Cambridge University Press, 2002) p.82

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (58) Closed

Ibrahim Jun 06, 2013 03:53pm

Pretty impressive. Sindh certainly is a bastion of tolerance.

Sindhi Pakistani Jun 06, 2013 04:25pm

Saein NFP, it seems you are able to read the minds of young Sindhis. In reaction to the spreading fundamentalists, Sindhis are becoming more nationalists, secularists and in some cases athiests.

Irum Danial Jun 06, 2013 04:36pm

What if I want to take a printout of this article. Why is there no print button here?

Ayaz Jun 06, 2013 04:52pm

Jiye Bhutto, Jiye Benazir, Jiye Bilawal, Jiye Sindh

Faraz Jun 06, 2013 05:50pm

Applause. Thank you.

saleem Jun 06, 2013 06:09pm

your attempt to rationally analyze the issue is amazing - good learning!

Inherently Sindhis are more secular in their outlook and have celebrated diversity - I believe this is primarily due to the peace and mystic teachings of many sufi saints particularly Shah Latif. My hope that this never changes, peace to all!

Shah Jun 06, 2013 06:12pm

So, to sum it up: Secular, nationalist Sindhis are becoming terrorists. Aren't "liberals" supposed to be against terrorism? Remember, there can be no "good" or "bad" terrorist. That's like the right-wing rationalization that AQ is a reaction to US.

Ali Jun 06, 2013 06:33pm

excellent article sir. it will be a great pleasure meeting you once i finish my phd in france.

Karachi Wala Jun 06, 2013 06:51pm

@Irum Danial:

Because of beta......

Ahsan Jun 06, 2013 07:46pm

I dont get it PPP has never done anything in Sindh in comparison to what PML-N has done is Punjab. These voter are slave that is why despite to consistent failure of PPP to deliver in Sindh they still vote for them. Karachi is unlucky in sense they are stuck with these slaves of feudal... Larkana, Layari are key stronghold of PPP but people living there are struggling for there basic need establishment have never stop them to develop these area. Stop this blame game/conspiracy theory and deliver something on ground. Everything does not necessary have to have religious backing ...

S. A. Hyder, Ph.D. Jun 06, 2013 07:55pm

@Sindhi Pakistani: This is a reaction to the Punjab domination of Pakistan, in other words the "Punjabization" of Pakistan.

TKhan Jun 06, 2013 08:11pm

"Secondly, MQM, a party that first emerged as a mohajir nationalist group, adopted almost the same populist Barelvi symbolism and lingo as Bhutto did in the 1970s."

So Altaf Bhaie's followers started seeing his image on the leaves of the trees. Hence, A Saint Was Born!

One Pakistan Jun 06, 2013 08:14pm

These extremist Sindhi nationalists are against everything for which Pakistan was founded. This is the wrong direction, and it will end up dividing the country as it happened in the 1970s. These racists preach hate for all other ethnic groups, especially Punjabis and Pukhtoons, but also Balochis, Muhajirs, and others. This article is overflowing with this the venom of racial and ethnic intolerance. Islam is completely against racism, in all of its forms. Islam is the true answer to all of Pakistan's problems, this is the very belief of the vast majority of Muslims in Pakistan. Pakistan Zindabad! One Pakistan!

BRR Jun 06, 2013 08:32pm

Nice review of Sindh politics over the last 5 decades. A liberal culture can be turned conservative by an organized campaign of a) creating a new elite sympathetic to the cause b) funding projects that project the cause as not only viable but also inevitable c) marketing the cause as patriotism and d) denying all opposition as anti-patriotic. Pakistani state, with the help of Saudi money, has done all that. The results are here to stay, Sindh being the last holdout - but for how long?

SBB Jun 06, 2013 08:40pm

Thank you for your very thoughtful analysis. My parents left Sindh 60+ years ago, but even I know and accept that Sindh is an important bastion of tolerance. It has given shelter to countless and hope this tolerance continues forever.

Strangely, the few Pakistani Sindhi Muslims that I've met have become friends effortlessly. It was almost the most effortless friendship to build.

kamljit Singh Jun 06, 2013 08:45pm

Salam Nadeem : Once more you have proved to be a natonalis, It is not only the Pakisatan where religious sects are being used to gain political power but throughout India this is happening. When politicians find no fundamental issue of well being of the public they find one in rituals of religions. May be it is Sikhism or Hiduism. When BJP could not find any thing national to come into power they invented Ayodhya. When Akalis loose power in Indian Punjab they start the bogey of SIkhism is in Danger. Keep on enlightening us.

Ali S Jun 06, 2013 09:10pm

This is an impressively well-researched analysis on Sindh's political dynamics, however I feel like the author missed the point. I won't deny that Sindhi culture is inherently religiously tolerant (more so than most other strains of faith found in this country anyway), but that is definitely not the reason why PPP has always held a cult-like hold in interior Sindh.

Despite their 'liberal' and 'progressive' sloganeering, the PPP has been as cosy with hardliner religious parties as just about anyone else who plays the politics game in this country - both in the days of Z.A. Bhutto and now, more recently, they infamously made multiple failed peace deals with TTP.

The main reason why PPP has unconditional, non-judgmental support from interior Sindh is its jiyalas - whose blind, cult-like support is unparalleled in any major political party in Pakistan. The BISP may have given PPP a shred of credibility but it's irrelevant, since even without doing anything they would have swept interior Sindh anyway.

Palijo Sindh Jun 06, 2013 09:19pm

Dedicated to all Liberal n Progressive minds of my Land--"...String is locked in combat wth swords,when I collide my songs with thy ramparts, thy strong towers shake n shiver, thou r no stronger with thy weaponry....the sages who r glory of the land, are first denounced as sinners..." Ayaz

Vijay Jun 06, 2013 09:45pm

@Irum Danial: Highlight the article with the help of your mouse, then cut and paste into WORD. Save the page under any name you want.

Raja Islam Jun 06, 2013 10:29pm

Being a secularist is a good thing. Even being an atheist might be good as the less religious you are the more tolerant you are. On of the problems that Sindhis have with the nationalists is that the nationalists in general are uneducated and many are supporters of crime of not being directly involved in crime. Parties like the PPP are more manstream, therefore make more sense to Sindhis.

Sindhi Pakistani Jun 06, 2013 10:53pm

@One Pakistan: up to 40 % Sindhis have Baloch origin. We have a large number of Sindhis of Punjabi origin specially in Sanghar. Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is a prime example.

We has Sindhi pastuns too, prime example is Agha Siraj Durrani whose ancestors moved Pakistan resolution from Sindh assembly in 1940s.

We have Seraiki Sindhis and Rajastani Sindhis too.

In interior new Sindhis and old Sindhis have been intermarrying for decades.

Sindh is for every Sindhi. Religion does not matter

AR Jun 06, 2013 11:55pm

It is strange that people like Altaf Hussain etc. are mentioned as a muhajir but when it comes to Zia ul Haq, who also migrated from India, he is always mentioned as 'Punjabi general'. I do not know if it is lack of knowledge or some bias.

Parvez Jun 07, 2013 12:17am

Detailed and interesting. There is a view that the people turn to misguided religious overtures not because they are by nature so inclined but because the State has time and again miserably failed in giving them even the basics of a decent existence.

SA Jun 07, 2013 01:55am

Historically, Sindh is one of the great civilisations. It has its own unique culture more dominant than religion. Prevalence of tolerance and beliefs prevalent in this region of South Asia is an outcome of the cultural way of life. Througout history, several attempts have been made to conquer Sindh by the use of force. Howeverver, conquerors of Sindh have always failed to conquer it culturally. Social values such as hospitality, tolerance and brotherhood provide enough evidence for it.

Ram Krishan Sharma Jun 07, 2013 07:13am

@Ibrahim: just for your information , the word HINDU is derived from SINDHU . The river Sindh is sacred to Hindus , because they believe that their VEDAS were written on the banks of this river by their RISHIES.( holy men).

Mustafa Jun 07, 2013 08:26am

Nadeem Paracha should be commended for this thought provoking article.

I must state that the division of Muslim Ummah in sects such as Sunni, Shia, Wahabee, Ahle-Hadith, Ahle-Fiqah, Ahle-Quran, Hanfi, Shafi, Malki, Hanbli, Deobandi, Barailwi and many more is forbidden by Allah in the following verse of the Holy Quran:

"As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou has no part in them in the least...." (6:159).

Allah knew what problems will be created by these divisions. Unfortunately, the day the Holy Prophet died Muslims broke this law of Allah and they have continued to do so over the last 1400 years. My parents called themselves Sunni because they did not know what Allah says. I call myself Muslim and do not attach myself to any sect. May Allah forgive my sins and guide all Muslims to be one united Ummah.

Abbastoronto Jun 07, 2013 08:29am

While there are deep spiritual, theological, and doctrinal differences in Shia, Sunni, Jafri, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafai, Hanbali, Wahabbi, Qadiani, Barelvi, Deobandi Islams, these differences have now firm basis in their economic outlook. Most sectarian wars now have economic underpinnings. Different sects have sub-economies in Pakistan.

These very differences exist in the West as well, and it is natural for friends and foes of Pakistan to identify with and oppose similar elements in Pakistan.

The neocon Republicans and Canadian Tories fount common grounds with Islamists in the 1980s and these common strands still exist and will be exploited.

The dying Corporate Capitalist System and trade monopolist India will naturally want to promote their friends in Pakistan. Singh and Sharif share common belief about Reaganomics/Thatcherism, and will promote it in Pakistan. This may mean destroying forces that oppose their agenda, and divide Pakistani society further.

The golden rule is that he who has the gold, makes the rules, and Saudi Arabia, India, the West has some gold, and they will try to make the rules in Pakistan. Will Pakistanis allow them to succeed?

ALI ARSLAN SYED Jun 07, 2013 10:07am

Once again NFP Hits the Nail right on the Head!!! Excellent Analysis, Well written article.

Junaid Jun 07, 2013 11:30am

Can you cite the source for the following statement in your article : "Barelvi's populist and moderate make-up helped it become the majority Sunni sect amongst the Muslims of South Asia" ?

Bong Jun 07, 2013 11:55am

@Abbastoronto: Blame it on everybody.....These are called excuses.

AR Jun 07, 2013 01:02pm

It is good to be knowledgeable of one's ethnic and religious identities but excess of every thing is bad. We see ethnic tensions among mohajirs, sindhis and pukhtuns in the form of tussles among MQM, PPP and ANP in Karachi due to promotion of ethnic prides. In the meantime sectarian and religious problems can be seen in Punjab and KPK. It is better if we promote economic well being of masses as a cohesive force for our country.

vijay Jun 07, 2013 03:30pm

@Abbastoronto: you again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

newtee Jun 07, 2013 04:07pm

@SA: Indus vally civilisation was actually Tamil ( dravidian) civilisation, and Tamils were chased out from north India to south India by invading so called fair skinned aryans from central asia and tribes of forefathers of Hindu god lord Rama

One Pakistan Jun 07, 2013 04:19pm

@Sindhi Pakistani:

There is no room for ethnic, cultural supremacy in a unified modern Nation, particularly a Muslim state. Deriding other ethnic groups is not only divisive, but promotes violence and bloodshed. If Pakistan was not founded on the basis of religion, then what was it founded on?

Mr Kim (Seoul) Jun 07, 2013 04:31pm

@Abbastoronto: Your story leminds me same of a Big Priest in South Korea who lived long time ago. One day he was suffering from bad bad constipation. So junior monk went to doctor and came back with medicine for Big Priest. This medicine not working. Again monk went to doctor who incleased medicine but again medicine not working second time. Third time he went see same doctor. Doctor unhappy about medicine not working. So he incleased medicine strength too much this time for good lesult. After many days doctor saw monk and asked about Big Priest health. Monk said

Dearborn Iffy Jun 07, 2013 05:03pm

@Abbastoronto: Good to hear from you Uncle in your familiar name again rather than other goti, shoti etc names.

You seem to be sulking at Nawaz Sharif's unexpected victory. Sorry about that, but it is a pity even Tahir ul Qadri did not have much impact either on the outcome.

In your previous posts, you have maintained Pakistan is well ahead of anyone else in its drive towards the Mohameddan Era. And now you are lamenting "This may mean destroying forces that oppose their agenda, and divide Pakistani society further." Why should it matter since it is only a temporary phase of material insignificance in your own predicted process of elimination rounds.

Masood Jun 07, 2013 05:07pm

@One Pakistan: Amazing, how convincingly you missed out mentioning the unprecedented bloodshed caused in the name religion and sect by both the terrorists and the state.

Faisan Jun 08, 2013 12:02am

@Mustafa: Why don't you just call yourself a human being and leave it at that.

Mustafa Jun 08, 2013 02:26am

@ Faisan. You said: "Why don't you just call yourself a human being and leave it at that." What if anyone told you do not call yourself Pakistani or Indian, man or women, call your father "Hello human being", call your mother "Helo human being" you will call that person a lunatic. I will call myself Muslim because my Creator Allah wants me to call myself Muslim. I am still part of the human race created by Allah.

G.Nabi Jun 08, 2013 04:17am

A man who tinkered with Marxism, socialism & secularism for quite a while, NFP is now sanctifying the different school of thoughts .If Zia tacitly approved anti Brailvi propagation ,Abul Ala Maudoodi & GM Syed never propagated nationalism for the larger interest of Pakistan,one wrote virulent critique on tolerant version of Islam ,the Brailvi school of thought and other sowed the seeds of Sindhi nationalism. None spoke for the unity of the people. Zia is not the only villain, others equally stand guilty.

Mr Hopefull Jun 08, 2013 05:06am

PML victory is shocking cause it proves one thing - pak belongs to punjabis. But regardless, its a really nice article and what makes me angry is why saudis interfere with pakistan? so many other countries are there and whats more frightening is we all know who saved mian saheb from Attak ? so.@Abbastoronto has a strong point in my view.

Gohar Jun 08, 2013 05:41am

I volunteered in SIndh during the flood relief. I was awe inspired by their welcoming nature and the hospitality they provided. It was an honour to help our brothers in need during their difficult time. I was a little skeptical because of the all the media hype as I was a Panjabi. But quite the contrary, I felt right at home in SIndh! The cradle of civilization in Pakistan is truly Sindh!

Goldy Jun 08, 2013 10:44am

@Abbastoronto: Uncle ...please buy gold for the country with your $$$$

fareed Jun 08, 2013 11:50am

@One Pakistan: So the islam is only in Pakistan - go and ask same thing in Saudi Arabia see how they treat you.

fareed Jun 08, 2013 11:56am

@Sindhi Pakistani: as long as you speak sindhi and promote its culture and values.

Tajammal Jun 08, 2013 12:32pm

@newtee: You have shown the mirror to the 'so called intellectuals' of the Northern India.

shuaib Jun 08, 2013 07:38pm

It appears that dawn is now playing sindh card. The crux of this piece is that the people with political association with pppp or ppp are crying again and crying hard without even bothering to understand that the whole bunch of looters; comprising pppp/ppp, mqm and anp have ruined this country, left out in wilderness and scapegoat is as usual punjab. While living in punjab, people fail to understand that for all the ills, why punjab is targetted and as well, why for the people in sindh, it is not important to demote corrupts and looters. Why in sindh, the graves are worshiped and the followers have licence to rule. Why in sindh only (not on kpk), people put graffis and wear t-shirts with love bla bla but not Pakistan. Even creating hinderrance for the progress of this country by what ever means, either dam etc., and getting so much liverages from punjab that current and former cm sindh (qaim ali) praised punjab cm while reaching accords and getting concessions. we certainly are going to see same non progressive attitude from the sindh, when coal is going to used in generating power, in near future. one more thing, changing sect and faith is absolutely a personal matter and i fail to understand that sindhis are or were naive while accepting islam and chosing sufi ism then and changing to deoband islam now. this writer and the web operator/moderator are sick from mind.

Nasiroski Jun 08, 2013 08:32pm

@One Pakistan: It was founded on a whim.

PunjabiOne Jun 08, 2013 08:59pm

@Ayaz: Why did you omit Zardari, the beloved son in law of AZBhutto from your jaiy list ? The pride of Sindh, you can't ignore him, at least give him credit for using 'Bhutto' 's name.

Jupiter59 Jun 08, 2013 11:31pm

"JEAY SINDH", and down with the establishment's nefarious designs. May they never succeed in radicalising Sindh, because that surely will be a great tragedy for Pakistan.

Nasiroski Jun 08, 2013 11:50pm

@shuaib: Relax guy, and read the article again.

Nasiroski Jun 09, 2013 12:01am

@Abbastoronto: Abbas sahib, all of a sudden you are sounding naive, where is your passion dude?? You think that difference of sects have economic underpinning now, I want to know in last 500 yrs when was it not?? Organized religion today is like franchise business, more customer more power more money just like your mikeyD's or KFCs. be it east or west or any religion or sub set of therein, it is the same business model. Pakistani's have been given so many shots of religion lately that they are too numb to think and act, so they will be played around to the time they are no more (revision of geographical boundries).

PunjabiOne Jun 09, 2013 02:30am

@S. A. Hyder, Ph.D.: Why blame Punjab? until last week it was a Sindhi, a dynastic politician, an accidental president, AAZ ruled the country for 5 years. Check it out what he accomplished.

ROHIT PANDEY Jun 09, 2013 07:02am

I am amazed at Islamic are the Muslims of Pakistan who "know" about Indian/Hindu caste archaic remnant, thousands of years of age,...they throw around words like 'Brahmin" "Shudra" Vysya...often wrongly spelled ...and now we are treated to
fragmentation among Muslims..not only caste wise( yes caste exists among S Asian Muslims,it just won't fade away!!) but also theology wise.

Get a life Pakistanis/Muslims? Adopt secular,liberal values in consonance with the rest of the world? Start to rethink about your basic beliefs and how it interferes with your world-view?

Focus on a word with the spelling R-E-F-O-R-M?

Mullahs,Imams,Maulvis and others might object to changing the cast-in-stone covenant that goes for religious belief among Muslims...but it HAS TO REFORM if it does not go the way of dinosaurs and other extinct species which could not cope with something spelled C-H-A-N-G-E!

Good luck and you guys really need it!!!!

ROHIT PANDEY Jun 09, 2013 07:06am

@Abbastoronto: Good at glop aren't you?

Nony Jun 09, 2013 09:51am

Sindh has remained secular because of its history and a mojor role played by nationalists after Zia regieme, no matter what their political stance has been but they have always openly criticised the religious extremisms and preached secularism. As far as PPP is concerned, it has given Sindis both the good and bad, it has kept the overall politics secular but at the same time it has been strengthening feudalsim which keeps majority of the population deprived. Sindhis to a great extent have got rid of religion, its time for feudalism now.

skd Jun 09, 2013 10:44am


"Trade monopolist" India?! You've got to be kidding. India's trade prowess is laughable.

Many Pakistani products (not mangoes!) are superior to Indian products. Let the people of the subcontinent trade and prosper. Peace might be a side effect.

gotti Jun 09, 2013 02:36pm

@Dearborn Iffy: Dawn, I reserve the right to respond to this charlatan's constant association of my name with someone else. I am a different person, as anyone with the slightest knowledge on writing styles and intellect could tell. Also, it's "gotti", but living in an Arab slum, surrounded by shawarmas and belly-dancing Lebanese women, this misanthrope isn't exposed to Italians or Blacks or even anyone outside the residents of the "Fertile Crescent" to know this very basic piece of information. However, if he does come across any non-Arabs (who he is attracted to for his inferiority complex as a dark person), he will be aware enough to understand the intricacies of this world of 7 billion people, where more than one person lives and not everyone is to be confused with Mr. Abbas or to be using their well-known names, as one of his apparent pseudonyms. It'll take time for this creature to evolve and none of us have lost hope yet in the process of evolution, either. Even monkeys, cats and dogs can be tamed to understand things that involve the smallest use of human brain cells, so 'jaahil' idiots like this person can be tamed, too. We believe it will happen, and yes, this is the audacity of hope. On the article: no connection between religion and GM Syed makes sense and same goes for MQM. Inaccurate connections between politics based on two different topics (religion and ethnicity) collided with grammatical mistakes like "each another" instead of "each other". It's boring now, to read the same thing over, and over. Maududi is dead, Zia is dead, Bhutto is dead. Nawaz and Imran or even Zardari need to be factored in with how the new generation of Sindi nationalists are identifying themselves with Pakistani politics. Lastly, Iftikhar, if you're going to Anglicize your name to fit in the "mainstream" or present yourself as a "kala'' minute-man, at least have the mental capacity to know of the name gotti, it's meaning, it's origins and even it's relevance in popular culture. If you're comparing yourself to the residents of the "chak" near Toba Tek Singh from where you originate, then, yes, you have it made - you moved to the US illegally to work at a car manufacturing plant and now buy Baklavas from Arab Bedouins who used to enslave you - but thats as far as it goes as you're still a nobody and we can't possibly accept you as an intellectual given your extremely limited knowledge and grasp on the political discourse. Try not to act out roles you can't sustain.