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Participants of the 15th Annual Convention of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), held at San Francisco, the other day, expressed concern over, what they called worst form of colonisation imposed on Sindh by the central government of Pakistan in the name of "Governor’s rule".The participants demanded of the Pakistan government to immediately stop expediencies with Sindh and its people and restore the powers of elected provincial assembly, allowing the majority party to govern. The three-day annual convention was participated by a large number of delegates from within and outside North America.
Eminent Scholar and historian Dr. Nabi Bux Baluch and top most Sindhi fiction writer Amar Jalil were the chief guests in the convention. In his keynote addresses Dr. Nabi Bux Baluch highlighted and revealed the yet unexplored areas of Sindh’s history through ages.
Underlining Sama and Soomra Dynasty ‘as golden eras’ in the history of Sindh, Dr. Baluch stressed upon the need of re-writing the history of British colonial period with a new perspective since the history written so far, he opined, was a conqueror’s viewpoint. Amar Jalil in his address feared nuclear cloud hovering on the horizon of South Asia. He said that the existing feudal structure was the main cause of Sindh’s long standing backwardness and slavery.
The convention deliberated on and discussed various problems and issues concerning Sindh and its people and unanimously adopted a number of resolutions on the issues.
The participants expressed their concern over the threat of demographic insecurity faced by Sindh, as a result of persistent influx of alien immigrants, as well as people from other provinces of Pakistan into Sindh.
The participants also expressed fears that indigenous people of Sindh would lose their basic human rights including right of self-governance, income and employment opportunities, social services, natural resources, culture, language and they would be reduced to a third level citizens in case of continuous influx of alien population in Sindh.
The convention participants further observed that the influx of alien immigrants was a very serious strain on Sindh’s economy and a threat to the social and political fabric of the province. The delegates, in a unanimously adopted resolution, demanded of the government that the open borders of the country should be sealed forthwith and laws of immigration implemented strictly and aliens residing in Sindh illegally should be apprehended and deported. The delegates saw the socio-political crisis in Sindh in the context of violation of Pakistan resolution by the successive rulers of the country.The convention delegates observed that after the creation of Pakistan, successive governments had been negating the terms of 1940 Resolution, as the central government has been increasingly usurping the powers of provinces. The delegates through yet another resolution demanded that the rulers should respect the document of 1940 resolution, which provided the basis for the creation of Pakistan. They should provide maximum autonomy to the federating units imbibed in the federation of Pakistan.
The same resolution also demanded that the federal government should have no authority to remove the provincial governments, or to dissolve provincial legislatures through an executive order, and in order to ensure freehand to the provinces, in their lawful spheres, all federal ministries dealing with the provincial subjects should be abolished.
SANA convention also expressed concern on the move of present government about repatriation of Biharis in Sindh. While terming the same move a conspiracy to convert Sindhis into minority in their own homeland and strengthen the hands of urban terrorist elements, the convention demanded that the moves of repatriation of Biharis, killers of 30 lakh peaceful Bengalis, on the land of Sindh, be stropped forthwith. The convention also discussed the derailing of development process in Sindh as well as the financial bankruptcy in the province. The convention observed that 1996 National Finance Commission (NFC) prepared by the then caretaker government has resulted in complete bankruptcy for the Sindh, with its overdraft mounting to over Rs 1.2 billion and unpaid liabilities of several billion more, despite the complete freeze of its development program since last two years. Therefore, the convention demanded that the non-representative and unconstitutional 1996 NFC award be replaced with a new and just representative award, which must be prepared, while keeping in view the resources being generated by the provinces.
Lack of employment opportunities for people of Sindh, dismissal of those already in government jobs by the present PML government was also discussed by the convention, which expressed concern over the reports that the trend of suicides has increased in Sindh manifolds due to growing menace of unemployment.
The convention delegates observed that the government of Nawaz Sharif, soon after coming into power, launched a move of expelling Sindhi employees/officers from their jobs. Those employees were deprived of their jobs on the mere allegations that they were appointed by the previous PPP government. The government has so far thrown out 12,000 Sindhis from their jobs. Those who were expelled from various government departments, including Oil & Gas Development Corporation (OGDC), PIA, banks, KESC, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, Pakistan Steel Mills, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSG) and other provincial as well as Federal departments. The latest on the line were 1,600 doctors, who had been expelled from their jobs after depriving them of their salaries for the last one year.
The delegates further observed that as a result of severe unemployment in Sindh, the current year alone, more than 300 Sindhi youth have committed suicide. A death of Lala Jehangir Pathan, a prominent political worker was a recent example of such tragedy. Tired of government red tape, unemployment, rampant poverty, Pathan took his life in presence of many journalists during his press conference.
The convention therefore through a resolution demanded that all the moves of expelling Sindhis from their jobs be stopped forthwith. The expelled Sindhi officers be replaced and new appointments be made in Sindh, while lifting of the so-called ban on the appointments. Continuous irrigation water shortage in Sindh and subsequent crop damages were also discussed at length by the delegates. The delegates opined that Sindh has been facing acute irrigation water shortage since last many months, which has been resulting in the damage to Kharif crops.
The participants were of the view that in fact, water to Sindh from Tarbela had been considerably reduced in violation of the water accord, secondly, Punjab has been illegally drawing water from Indus out of the share of Sindh, by operating Chashma- Jehlum and Tonsa Link canals.
According to agreement between Sindh and Punjab government, Punjab had to seek consent from Sindh Government for the flowing of irrigation water through Chashma -Jehlum and Tonsa Link canals, but the agreement was being violated. And thirdly, no water was being released to Sindh from Mangla reservoir to cover the shortage of water in Tarbela reservoir. The convention through a unanimously adopted resolution demanded of the Pakistan authorities to ensure due irrigation water share to Sindh from Indus river and stop Punjab from pilfering water share of Sindh through its link canals.
In another resolution the convention expressed concern over the apathetic attitude of Pakistan government with the cyclone hit populace of the coastal region of Sindh. The delegates expressed concern over the report that as an aftermath of the deadly cyclone, still thousands of villagers were shelter-less. Thousands of fishermen were unable to re-launch their livelihood due to unavailability of fishing boats and nets and were facing starvation. The agriculture community has no money to purchase new seeds and other agriculture outputs to re-cultivate their lands. Usage of contaminated water for drinking purpose has resulted into the out-break of a number of water-born diseases in the region. And the stagnant sea water on the fertile lands was playing havoc with the fertility and underground water aquifers. The convention demanded of state functionaries of Pakistan to launch rehabilitation plan for the affectees of cyclone, providing shelter, boats to fishermen and agriculture inputs to growers’ community.
SANA convention delegates also expressed their concern over the Quit Perpetuating Academic Crisis, instead Promote Academic Security in Sindh. The delegates observed that as a result of decades of misplaced priorities, successive Pakistani governments have paid no attention to the Academic Security of the country.
Pakistan has maintained its core academic philosophy of producing Babus which is cloned after British Raj. It creates a class of privileged servants whose personal growth and professional security is contingent upon the extension of the colonial culture. It is designed to maintain lowest levels of marketable skills in targeted population groups. In order to guarantee state interference, government agencies actively create and finance higher levels of strife and political polarity in Sindh’s academia.
SANA convention, therefore, demanded that the education in Sindh and Pakistan be given as much priority as the Defense. It was also demanded that teacher/parent/student bodies be formed to create and maintain academic peace in Sindh. The teacher/parent/student bodies should be given maximum attention in formulating academic & administrative policies and oversight of educational institutions.
SANA convention also strongly criticised both the Federal and Sindh governments for the arrest of numerous politicians and human rights activists in Sindh and demanded their immediate release.
Three-day SANA convention was also attended by Sindhis from outside the North America. Besides, Dodo Maheri, the central leader of Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, journalist Hasan Mujtaba and Dr. Ali Muhammed Ansari were also the guest speakers.
Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), it may be mentioned, is a representative body of Sindhi professionals and intellectuals settled in the region. In memory of one of its founders – Dr. Feroz Ahmed, the SANA has set up a Fame Fund by giving away scholarships to students in graduate and undergraduate programs in Sindh.
By: Manzoor Shaikh
Published in Dawn Sunday Magazine July 25, 1999
They were curious. They were inquisitive. They were eager to thrash out fast deteriorating social, cultural, and moral values in Sindh. They appeared resolved for microanalysis of the issue. Who is, or are responsible for the degradation of Sindh, and Sindhis! Savage Police! Corrupt bureaucrats! Incompetent, illiterate politicians! Or, Sindhis themselves!I gasped for breathing space from time to time, and kept answering to their queer questions. I love them. They were my dear friends from Sindh now permanently, and comfortably settled in the United States for years. We saw each other after decades of exacting separation. Most of them had left Sindh on their own for higher studies, and a prospective future in the United States, and a few among them had sought refuge, and political asylum there during the barbaric dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq. He cultivated Kalashinikov, and heroin culture in Pakistan, and destroyed the democratic institutions forever. It was during his rule that we saw unprecedented disappearance of Sindhi youth. They either went into exile, or vanished with eternity, and never surfaced again. It was an emotional reunion with the survivors of the holocaust in a distant land.
When we meet after ages and that too for a few days, we desperately reach out for grabbing the wings of the fleeing time. Then, nothing remains normal. Unknowingly we secede from the immediate surroundings, and recede into abstract communion in search of intrinsic values from an abandoned world. We incessantly talk, and consciously ward off the looming inevitable, saying goodbye to each other, not knowing when shall we meet again, and where! Parting is always a painful experience. It tears a soul apart. It was obvious, sooner or later we were preordained to bid farewell to each other. We knew the Convention would be over in less than three days.
I am talking about 15th Convention of SANA, Sindhi Association of North America, held at San Francisco from 2-5 July 1999. It is primarily a social and a cultural organisation of the immigrants from Sindh in the United States. However, they keep track of the political developments in Sindh. SANA is a democratic body of highly cultivated and educated persons. Most of them are doctors, engineers, professors, and finance and management wizards. They elect their office bearers every two years to run the affairs of the organisation. Currently Dr Mazhar Lakho is the President, and Irshad Kazi is the Secretary of SANA. Every year they hold convention in a different State, and invite one or two writers, scholars, journalists, and academicians from Sindh. This year Professor Dr N A Baloch, an undisputed authority on Folk Literature, eminent educationist, and a former Vice Chancellor of Sindh University, and I were invited to participate in the 15th convention of SANA at San Francisco.
Sindhis by temperament can’t be globetrotters. Their psyche is dominated by mystic verse of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Within their soul dwells a Marvi who rejects the comforts of the palace of Umar Soomro and longs for her humble dwelling in Malir (of Thar). The Sindhis in America constantly discuss Sindh. They vie for the reasons for the chaos, confusion and mismanagement at the institutions, and deteriorating standard of education in Sindh. They converse on the myth of the private prisons. They debate the Police brutalities, and violation of the human rights, and the plight of the farmers. They remain politically conscious, and alive to the savoury or unsavoury developments in Sindh. It is Marvi’s concern for the Marus.
Vociferous among them were the ones who were on the hit list, and had escaped from Sindh during the illegal regime of General Ziaul Haq. As I talked to them I kept wondering what in fact was their crime! Did they ever conspire to over throw a legal, and a legitimate Government of the day! How can you squash a person and then send him to the gallows for his right of dissent against a usurper!
I very strongly believe participation in a movement to dislodge a dictator, or an illegal government anywhere on the earth is not a crime. To protect, or to sustain an illegal government of a dictator, on the contrary is an unpardonable crime, and a sin against humanity. It is the fundamental right of each citizen of a country to resist, and to go into revolt against the usurpers. You can’t provide legal cover to the robbers, and the dacoits. Had I been an advocate I would have moved the Supreme Court to take action against the active, retired, living or dead supporters of the illegal governments in Pakistan for either annihilation or exile of the youth from the country. Ehtesab (accountability) should not be restricted to the cheats, swindlers, and the corrupt. Anyone responsible for robbing the country of the talented persons on one pretext or other must be made answerable. They should not be allowed to get away with it.
Now no more in their youthful years, the ones who were forced into voluntary or involuntary exile have matured into talented citizens of the United States. Some of them are eminent doctors, engineers, and management experts in their adopted country. They have thrown open innumerable Web sites. They chat. They discuss. They debate. They educate. And, they disseminate mystic muse, and message of Shah Latif and Sachal Sarmast.
For three nights the auditorium in Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco echoed with the Sufi Kalam (mystic verse). We were evidently overwhelmed by the pathos of the wandering soul of Marvi longing and wailing for Malir, and her Maru (her kin).