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KARACHI, Oct 31: Speakers at a seminar on the Pakistan Resolution stressed the need for recognizing the sovereign rights of the constituent units of the country which, they said, “are basically multi-linguistic and multi-cultural.”

Entitled ‘1940 Resolution and autonomy of Sindh,’ the seminar was organized by the Save Sindh Committee at the PMA House here on Friday. Comrade Rochi Ram chaired the seminar and those who spoke included Jeay Sindh Mahaz (JSM) chief Abdul Khalique Junejo, known writer Muslim Shamim, Prof Jafar, Dr Tipu Sultan, Nazar Mohammad and Yousuf Mastikhan of the National Workers Party (NWP).

Some of the speakers also suggested holding of a referendum on the status of the federating units to find ways to steer the country out of the multi-dimensional crises it was facing. They attributed the crises to the failure of the successive rulers in honouring the commitments made with the state’s federating units at the time of the country’s inception.

Asserting that Pakistan is

a “multi-nation state” consisting of people with diverse cultures, languages and historical backgrounds, they claimed that

it came into being on the basis of an agreement that each of

the federating units would enjoy the status of a “sovereign unit.”

On the basis of the historical evidence, they argued that the 1940 Resolution or its amended resolution of 1946 had clearly defined Pakistan as “a federation comprising autonomous units which shall be completely sovereign.”

They observed that although the original concept of the state structure was “confederal,” over time it was distorted with the introduction of unitary concept and was followed by the introduction of a highly centralized form of governance, thereby paving the way for autocracy and military rule.

They accused the successive rulers of trampling over the constitutions and depriving the federating units of all their rights. In this regard, they particularly made mention of the treatment meted out to Sindh and Balochistan and the situation obtaining in the two provinces. They said that under a well-thought out plan, the Sindhi language had been removed from the syllabus in Sindh while Balochistan was subjected to repeated military operations.

‘State or states?’

Opening the seminar, JSM leader Abdul Khalique Junejo briefed the audience about the 1940 Resolution and 1946 (amended) Resolution. He slammed the successive rulers for bypassing these resolutions and coming out with their own interpretations of the words “state or states” inserted later in the resolutions.

However, he said the idea of autonomous units being sovereign had been inserted in both the resolutions.

He held that the rulers had not only killed the spirit of the 1940 Resolution, but also trampled over all constitutions.“Since the rulers are still not ready to accept the sovereign rights of the federating units, the situation calls for holding a referendum to ascertain the will of the citizens,” he added.

Professor Jafar gave an analytical review of the country’s constitutions, and observed that not all the constitutions were basically federal in character. He termed the state “over-centralized” and said that successive rulers had promoted centralization to perpetuate their rule.

He said the problems being faced by the federal units could not be resolved merely by abolishing the concurrent list.

Muslim Shamim stressed that Pakistan could survive only with a democratic dispensation that recognized the national rights of all its constituent units. He was of the view that the country had always been ruled by the “civilian-military establishment,” and blamed them for the failure of democratic dispensation. He said the idea of a strong centre was the brainchild of the bureaucracy, which helped the undemocratic rulers perpetuate their rule and undermined growth of democracy.

Yousuf Mastikhan observed that the all those who ruled over the country failed to fulfil their commitments with the people of Sindh and Balochistan. During the movement for the restoration of democracy (MRD), the Pakistan People’s Party had pledged provincial autonomy and scrapping of the concurrent list.

The party never fulfilled the commitment, he complained, adding that history was repeating itself now.

Earlier, Dr Tipu Sultan presented a bleak picture of the current state of the federation, and remarked: “A sick nation may not survive longer.” He called for early remedial measures to strengthen the country.

Nazir Memon remarked that Sindh had not only been suffering from fatal diseases, but also non-availability of safe drinking water.

In his concluding remarks, Rochi Ram stressed the need for granting all provinces their right to self-rule in order to ensure survival of the federation.