Dangerous idea

Published May 22, 2012

DIVIDING Sindh along ethnic lines — the ‘Mohajir’ south in Karachi and Hyderabad versus the ‘interior’ of the province dominated by Sindhi speakers — is an idea fraught with the most dangerous of consequences. But, as reported in this newspaper yesterday, in Urdu-speaking neighbourhoods of Karachi and partly Hyderabad, the demand for a Mohajir province has grown in recent months, backed by a Mohajir province movement whose leadership has yet to reveal itself publicly.

With graffiti on walls proliferating and the odd rally held in support of the so-called Mohajir province, suspicion has fallen on the MQM as the architect of the movement. While the MQM has officially tried to distance itself from the campaign, particularly via supporting a resolution in the Sindh Assembly against the division of Sindh, it has not condemned the Mohajir province movement. Party leaders have spoken of the growing sense of frustration among Urdu-speakers in the province that they are not getting their due share of resources and jobs from the state. That has only served to heighten the suspicions of Sindhi nationalists, who are bitterly opposed to the idea of dividing Sindh and who have deep misgivings about the MQM’s intentions, particularly since the MQM introduced bills calling for the creation of new provinces in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa earlier this year.

If Sindh, especially its urban areas, is to be spared a terrifying round of violence between those who count Urdu as their mother tongue and native Sindhi speakers, both the MQM and the Sindhi nationalists have to act quickly. On the MQM’s part, it needs to go beyond demonstrating that it has no active role in the movement and address suspicions that it is not really averse to such a campaign. On the Sindhi nationalists’ part, their habitual reactionary ways need to be curbed. Their hostility towards the MQM, no matter what that party does or doesn’t do, only serves to keep ethnic tensions in Sindh at an uncomfortably high level. In recent times, Altaf Hussain has repeatedly spoken of recognising that Mohajirs were ‘new’ Sindhis and in a matter of generations would culturally and socially become indistinguishable from the ‘old’ Sindhis. Reaching out to Sindhis in that manner was unprecedented for the MQM, but the Sindhi nationalists have been dismissive of the overtures. That Karachi is a tinderbox always seemingly on the verge of an ethnic, sectarian or political breakdown is known to everyone. Talk of a Mohajir province only serves to complicate an already fiendishly complex problem. Mohajir and Sindhi nationalist leaders must work to reassure each other at this uneasy juncture.

Opinion

The sixth wave

The sixth wave

PCR testing has drastically gone down in Pakistan and our disease surveillance system needs much more strengthening.

Editorial

Udaipur killing
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Udaipur killing

The crime committed in Udaipur did not happen in a vacuum.
Unacceptable demand
Updated 01 Jul, 2022

Unacceptable demand

Negotiating with extremists is tricky; no peace treaty with them has lasted beyond a few months.
Tough times ahead
01 Jul, 2022

Tough times ahead

THE finance ministry’s projection of 15pc inflation, much higher than the targeted rate of 11.5pc, during the new...
More ‘prior actions’
Updated 30 Jun, 2022

More ‘prior actions’

It is crucial that the IMF reconsiders its stance and releases the funds at the earliest to calm uneasy markets.
Growing power crisis
30 Jun, 2022

Growing power crisis

THE country’s escalating power crisis risks exacerbating the law-and-order situation as people take to the streets...
Attack on polio team
30 Jun, 2022

Attack on polio team

THE threat of deadly violence never seems to diminish for health workers and police officials involved in...