BADIN: The romance of separatism and creation of ‘Sindhudesh’, an ideal state envisioned by father of Sindhi nationalism G.M. Syed, appears to be fast fading away with senior leaders and diehard activists of nationalist parties who had actively worked for Syed’s cause publicly deserting nationalistic politics.
Over 50 activists of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) have publicly announced quitting nationalism within past six days in Badin district alone and joining mainstream national politics.
Many think the ongoing crackdown by law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) against the activists of different factions of Jeay Sindh Mahaz, which was founded by Syed in 1972 to create an ‘independent homeland’ for Sindhis, is wracking their nerves and forcing them to quit nationalism.
The process of fragmentation in the nationalist movement started in Syed’s own life as early as 1991 when many of his close aides who had laid down sacrifices for the cause like Dr Qadir Magsi, Dr Dodo Mehri, Comrade Hussain Bux Thebo, Haider Shahani and others developed differences with Syed and formed their own factions.
Dr Dodo Mehri is now working with Sindh United Party of Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, grandson of G.M. Syed, and Gul Mohammad Jakhrani parted ways with all factions long ago. He is now associated with Pakistan Peoples Party. Iqbal Tareen, Sattar Morio and other students and leaders preferred to quit politics for good immediately after Syed’s death.
The Mahaz was renamed as JSQM after Syed’s death on April 25, 1995, which sped up the process of disintegration. The leaders like late Basheer Khan Qureshi, Abdul Wahid Arisar, Shafi Mohammad Karnani, Riaz Ahmed Chandio, Shafi Burfat, Dr Abdul Khalique Junejo, Qamar Bhatti and others founded Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, which again split into factions with all the founding leaders forming their own parties.
The first to part ways with JSQM was Shafi Mohammad Burfat in the year 2000. He formed Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), which has been banned for its alleged involvement in terrorism and subversive activities in the province.
Mr Burfat is said to be living in self-exile in Afghanistan. LEAs and government officials believe his organisation is funded by Indian spy agency RAW for carrying out subversive activities in Sindh and parts of Balochistan.
With the murder of Shafi Karnani, death of Abdul Wahid Arisar, dormancy of Dr Safdar Sarki, ‘mysterious silence’ of Riaz Chandio and incomprehensible policies of Qureshi Jr and his aides like Dr Niaz Kalani, Dr Mir Alam Marri of JSQM-Arisar and others, nationalist activists find little hope in the cause.
‘The philosophy has failed’
“The philosophy of G.M. Syed has miserably failed to get public support even in his home district of Jamshoro,” said senior journalist and noted columnist Dastagir Bhatti.
He said that though Syed had raised the slogan of non-violence his ‘pampered’ boys adopted high-handed policies during Syed’s life and created a law and order situation in educational institutions including Sindh University in Jamshoro.
“The leaders like Shafi Burfat have distorted the image of nationalist movement by resorting to terror activities and getting his own activists killed,” said Mr Bhatti.
He encouraged people to get rid of nationalistic politics and said those who could not win even one seat of a ward in local bodies’ elections had no right to stay in any kind of politics and misguide youths.
Basheer Qureshi along with other comrades tried their best to hold onto Syed’s message and keep the party intact. “The mysterious death of Qureshi on April 7, 2012, and the elevation of his son Sanaan to the chairmanship of the party at a tender age proved to be the last straw on the camel’s back and a serious setback to people who still believed in Syed’s philosophy. So, they started moving away from nationalist parties.
“Recently, an octogenarian nationalist leader who was respected by all leaders and activists and was rightly called Ustad for his great role in spreading Syed’s message, publicly announced quitting nationalistic politics after his return from a three-month captivity with LEAs,” said a JSQM leader requesting not to be named.
Naseerullah Jarwar, once an active worker of JSQM from Tando Bago town, who quit the party two years back and joined the PML-F alleged that all leaders exploited common workers to amass their own assets and wealth.
He held all leaders responsible for the mess created in the name of Sindhudesh and said that his family and other members of Jarwar community actively took part in nationalist movement and were subjected to torture and incarceration but received nothing in return at the end of the day.
Mr Jarwar requested LEAs to bring all activists involved in terrorist acts to book and said that workers had started quitting such parties across the province for the past few years. During the ongoing crackdown hundreds of workers of various factions of nationalist movement were deserting their parties, he said.
But Riaz Chandio, chairman of Jeay Sindh Mahaz, rejected the impression that Syed’s philosophy was fading away due to ongoing operation by LEAs against ‘peaceful’ workers in the province. Mr Chandio, one of the few people who had joined G.M. Syed as a student leader, claimed that only a few workers from Badin, Thar, Thatta, Dadu and Mirpurkhas quit their parties.
He said that over 200 people, including rights activists, were whisked away by LEAs during the ongoing crackdown and demanded that all ‘missing persons’ should be produced in courts.
He said in answer to a question about JSMM leader Shafi Burfat that all JSQM leaders had expelled Burfat from their parties after he was found involved in the kidnapping of owner of Shalimar Coaches in Nawabshah in 1998. He accused Burfat of creating chaos in Sindh and said that he had no following in the province. “I am not disappointed with the desertion of a few workers who were afraid of getting ‘disappeared’. The movement launched by Syed will not fade away. It had faced similar crises in the past and emerged unscathed,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2017