There are growing indications that the methods used by the security establishment to quell separatism in Balochistan are being replicated in Sindh.
As cited by the HRCP, over the last few weeks, a number of men associated with Sindhi nationalist groups have been abducted, allegedly by security personnel, with their bodies later turning up in different parts of Sindh and Balochistan.
In one particularly brazen incident, a young wounded man was taken away from Karachi’s Civil Hospital by over a dozen men, including some in police uniform; the man’s body was later found dumped near Hyderabad.
Sindhi nationalist groups have protested against such ‘custodial killings’ and have pointed the finger of blame at the state. The separatism debate is not new in Sindh; in fact it dates back to at least the early 1970s when G.M. Syed gave the call for an independent ‘Sindhudesh’.
From then onwards, nationalism in Sindh has taken on various forms and hues. The nationalists have ranged from those who choose to work for the province’s rights within the framework of Pakistan, to more militant outfits that support separatism through armed violence.
A group belonging to the latter category, the banned Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, has seen its profile rise over the last decade and of late has reportedly been responsible for numerous low-intensity bomb blasts in the province.
Activists belonging to this group have been among the victims of the recent enforced disappearances.
Of course, Sindh does not suffer from the type of insurgency that has affected Balochistan. In Sindh, the political process is very much alive, even though political forces have failed to give its people good governance, law and order and economic prosperity.
While Sindh did experience armed militancy during the Zia era, there is a need to address the current problem using foresight. If some of Sindh’s youths have lost faith in the state, they need to be engaged and their grievances addressed.
If some are genuinely involved in militancy, charges must be proved against them in court. If the security apparatus adopts reprehensible and patently illegal methods such as the abhorred abduct, kill and dump policy, it will only add to alienation against the state in Sindh and raise the profile of separatist forces.
As for fringe nationalist groups, they need to listen to the advice of leaders such as Qadir Magsi and shun the path of violence and struggle for Sindh’s rights politically instead.
Published in Dawn December 7th , 2014