KARACHI: The movement to restrict the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from entering Sindh is gaining momentum as on Saturday nationalist parties in Sindh called for a complete shutterdown strike in the province on July 22. The announcement was made at a joint presser organised by the Sindh Bachayo Committee (SBC) which includes representatives of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, Sindh United Party, Jeay Sindh Qaum Parast Party and Awami Jamhoori Party.
Speaking about the recent “influx of outsiders into Sindh” at the residence of the late nationalist leader G. M. Syed near Nishtar Park, SBC convener Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah said the next phase of their protest includes blocking the three main entry points to Sindh — the Superhighway and the National and Indus highways. “The roads will be blocked from noon till 2pm followed by sit-ins at various points by our workers,” he said. “The provincial government is acting quite irresponsibly when it comes to the issue of the IDPs. We have our fears that once inside Sindh, terrorists posing as IDPs will make their way towards Karachi. It will further damage an already out-of-control situation in the province. Also, the deafening silence of political parties residing in Karachi [on the issue of IDPs] is equally surprising.”
Surrounded by his party members, he said the nationalist parties “feel sorry for the IDPs who had to leave their home and hearth and migrate, but we strongly support the military operation in North Waziristan”.
He also called for amending Articles 15, 18 and 23 of the Constitution of Pakistan, dealing with the fundamental right to movement, trade and acquiring property, adding that: “These articles should be amended keeping in view the current security challenges faced by the province. We have already sent letters to the members of provincial and national assembly, and the prime minister asking them to protect our territories by acting responsibly.”
The furore over the influx of IDPs increased after the army operation started in the first week of July. Soon after, nationalist parties held protests and sit-ins across Sindh. The first phase of the protests and sit-ins started at Obaro on July 9 and ended on July 15 at Sakrand. By calling for a strike on July 22, the nationalists say they will increase their protests depending on how soon the provincial government acts to stop what they call a spillover of the IDPs from North Waziristan into Sindh. In an effort to appease the nationalists, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah recently said the authorities would keep proper checks on the IDPs entering the province.
Criticising the CM, Jalal Mehmood said: “Unlike what the CM wants us to believe, there are no checkpoints for entering Sindh. There’s no one checking documents of those entering the province by buses or cars. We demand that the IDPs be kept either at Tank or somewhere near the federal capital so that the administration can provide for them properly.”
When the convener was questioned by a reporter for attending an Iftar party thrown by the CM recently while denouncing his actions at the presser, Jalal Mehmood said: “We are politicians. We have to meet one another as well. But our agenda remains the same, which is to protect Sindh.”
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2014