AMIDST the growing clamour over the state’s neglect of Karachi, the MQM-P has once again raised the controversial demand for the division of Sindh. While addressing a rally in the metropolis on Friday, the party’s leadership renewed the call for the formation of a ‘South Sindh’ province to be carved out of Sindh’s urban areas. The justification for this, as per the Muttahida, is the apparent step-motherly treatment urban Sindh receives from the PPP-led provincial government. While the MQM may have a point where the sad state of Karachi is concerned, calling for the division of Sindh may actually cause more problems than it will solve. Firstly, the PPP commands a comfortable position in the Sindh Assembly, which means securing a two-thirds majority in the provincial legislature — an essential constitutional requirement for the creation of a new federating unit — is next to impossible. Secondly, and more importantly, this demand will increase the Sindhi-Mohajir communal divide in Sindh. Considering the fact that Sindh has suffered from significant episodes of ethnic violence over the last few decades, political players need to bridge divides, and not increase them.
It is true that the Sindh government has monopolised nearly all civic powers under the 2013 LG law, leaving the KMC practically toothless. The results of this can be seen in the dystopian state Karachi finds itself in today. However, it is also true that the MQM, which ruled Karachi and Hyderabad for decades, is an equal contributor to the destruction of urban Sindh. For example, land grabbing — commonly known as ‘china-cutting’ — in Karachi is a black art that was perfected under the MQM’s watch. Therefore, instead of indulging in divisive rhetoric that will only widen the ethnic divide, the MQM and all others who claim to represent urban Sindh must push for a better LG law which empowers civic administrations and gives them the necessary resources. Moreover, the PPP should also let devolution trickle down to the districts instead of centralising governance under the provincial administration.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2020