By Zulfiqar Shah
Pakistan: Statehood versus statehood
It is an irony that Pakistan that was demanded on the two bases: religious minority rights and their development, after the seven decades of its creation it has a history of ethnic cleansing and genociding against religious minority, anti-development approach. Fundamentally, Pakistan which is claimed by the founders of it was materialized as a country on the basis of 1940 Resolution reads:
"Resolved that it is the considered view of this Session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to the Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principles, viz., that geographically contiguous units' are demarcated into regions which should be constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North Western and Eastern Zones of India should be grouped to constitute "independent States" in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign.
That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultations with them and in other parts of India where the Mussalmans are in a majority."
The resolution has three aspects:
a. Independent, autonomous and sovereign countries (States with capital letter "S") of Muslim majority Provinces of British India should be made and a grouped together, which meant a confederation of Muslim majority Provinces of British Empire's Southasian region should be created.
b. It also termed India (Southasian British Empire which is Emperor Ashoka and Akbar's Hind) the "country", which means a Southasian historical Empire was also accepted as a broader collective entity.
c. It also ensures that religious minorities will also be protected and developed.
In British Indian Empire, the Province were countries and / or Kingdoms with their Constitutions. After British withdrawal from the Empire, India sought instruments accession with the Union of India; meanwhile in Pakistan until 1950s Provinces were having their Constitution; however when the first Constitution of Pakistan was made in 1950s, the provincial Constitutions cease to exist apparently. Provinces still today have constitutions that are neither printed nor formally claimed. After UNGA passed UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders according to which "national human rights" commissions / forums has to be established in each and every country, Government of Sindh established Sindh Human Rights Commission, much later the Central Government of Pakistan established National Commission for Human Rights.
Seven decades of Pakistan is nothing but a negation of "Pakistan" Resolution of 1940. In his speech the founder of Pakistan and the first martyr it after resoluting the 1940 Resolution in his concluding speech said:
"Situated in India as we are, we naturally have the past experience .... of provincial constitutions...we have learned many lesions...[situation of the governece.Ed] must lead to civil war." (Directorate of Films and Publishing, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, 1983, pp 5-23 on www.columbia.edu, Columbia University, USA)
Prof. farooq Ahmed Dar has referred in his research paper "Jinnah and the Lahore Resolution" published in JRSP, Vol. 52, No. 1, January-June 2015 by quoting "Liaqat to Sikandar, March113, 1940, NAP, A.F.M.F.129" that discourse in All India Muslim League leaders around Lahore Resolution1940 was also "Muslim majority zones of Indian should be constituted into Independent Dominions and should have direct relations with Great Britain...". He also mentions Chaudhry Khaliquzamman by quoting his book Pathway to Pakistan (Longmans Greens & Co Ltd. 1961, London, pp 233-34) that the discussion on separate homeland was decided in an upcoming meeting.
On the other hand, G. M. Syyed tabled the resolution of secession of Sindh from British Empire on 3rd March 1943 in Sind Legislative Assembly (Sindh Assembly today) is known in Pakistan wrongly as Pakistan Resolution by Sindh Assembly.
3rd March 1943 Resolution by Sind Legislative Assembly was moved by G M Syyed, the veteran Sindhi politician, and leader of the house in Sind Legislative Assembly. The resolution reads:
"This House recommends to Government to convey to His Majesty's Government through His Excellency the Viceroy, the sentiments and wishes of the Muslims of this Province that whereas Muslims of India are a separate nation possessing religion, philosophy, social customs, literature, traditions, political and economic theories of their own, quite different from those of the Hindus, they are justly entitled to the right, as a single, separate nation, to have independent national states of their own, carved out in the zones where they are in majority in the sub-continent of India.
Wherefore they emphatically declare that no constitution shall be acceptable to them that will place the Muslims under a Central Government dominated by another nation, as in order to be able to play their part freely on their own distinct lines in the order of things to come, it is necessary for them to have independent National States of their own and hence any attempt to subject the Muslims of India under one Central Government is bound to result in Civil War with grave unhappy consequences." (Proceedings of the Sindh Legislative Assembly, Official Report, Vol. XVII-No.6, Wednesday 3rd March, 1943, Karachi on www.pas.gov.pk)
The Sindh resolutions / legislation of 1943 by Sind Legislative Assembly termed Sindh an independent national-state and decided to be free, sovereign and separate country, and detach Sindh from British Indian rule, besides also demand for other Muslim majority provinces in British Indian Empire the same status. The resolution also talks of civil war if Sindh is not separated from British Indian Empire. The 1943 Resolution by Sind Legislative Assembly declared independence Sindh from British Empire. Since, Sindh and its Sind Legislative Assembly had legislative and territorial jurisdiction over Sindh alone therefore the resolution was for secession of Sindh from British Indian Empire, and was of the same opinion for the other Muslim majority Provinces of British Indian Empire.
Albeit, two Parliamentarians of Sind Legislative Assembly mentioned the words "Pakistan" and "Resolution of 1940" in their speeches during the discussion on the resolution. The word "Pakistan" was for the first time in the British Indian Empire, and in the Parliament was used by a Sindhi Hindu Parliamentarian of Sind Legislative Assembly Mr. Nihchaldas C. Vazirani, unfortunately the Sindhi Hindu in Pakistan, like other religious minorities are victimized. An ethnic cleansing in Sindhi is under way, Hindu are also victim of genocide. Meanwhile Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ayub Khuhro mentioned the Lahore Resolution of 1940. The Prime Minister of Sindh in 1943, called Premier, did not used word Pakistan in his speech on the floor, whereas Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ayub Khuhro's government in 1948 was dismissed by the central government of Pakistan.
Since the Sindhi Hindu Parliamentarians had been in favor of Sindh being part of Bombay Presidency in 1930s, and were against the revival of separate countryhood of Sindh within even British Indian Empire, therefore Muslim majority voted majority members of Sindh Legislative Assembly passed the resolution.
Human Rights: Minorities and Nations today in Pakistan
Pakistan has multipronged strategy in work to marginalize Sindh through planned efforts to convert Sindhi into minority, suppress political process and voice of dissent, undertake gradual ethnic cleansing and genocide, violating employment rights of Sindhi, and undertake water rights violation in a bid to economically, socially and culturally devastate the fabric of Sindhi society.
In last two decades, thousands of dissenters from Sindh have been enforcedly disappeared as well as arbitrary detained, while dozens have been killed. Hundreds are still jails. The worst example of such atrocities is the burning alive of three Sindhi nationalist leaders - Qurban Khuhawar, Ruplo Cholyani and Nadir Bugti - in Sindh's Shanghar district on April 21, 2011 by Pakistan Army. The victims were associated with Jeay Sindh Mutahida Mahaz (JSMM) - a political organization advocating Sindh independence. JSMM was banned in 2013 by Pakistan authorities. Later on, leader of Jeay Sindh Qomi Mahaz (JSQM) Bashir Qureshi was poisoned to death. JSQM is second largest political party of Sindh which struggles for secession of Sindh.
This multipronged strategy by Pakistan establishment is based on various aspects. Each aspect of it is a crime against humanity in itself.
Due to atrocities like forced conversion of Hindu girls to Islam, murders and plunders there cause mass Hindus exodus from Sindh, Pakistan to India and elsewhere in the world.
Hindu Exodus is historically referred to as the mass migration of Hindus from newly formed Pakistan after partition of the Indian subcontinent on August 14, 1947. Partition is now a seven decades old story but it is still going on like a big-bang process. In fact, the formation of two sovereign countries out of united India under British Empire on the basis of religion has vitiated the situation in Pakistan. Pakistan has leaped three sixty degrees into religious extremism against the liberal and secular ethos of various communities recently due to the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan. This has made Hindu, Christian and other minorities vulnerable through the establishment supported activities of forced conversions, abductions, and plunder and life threats.
Pakistan census process has three separate columns to count Hindus – Hindu, Scheduled and others (non-snathan Hindu / Vedians). Therefore, Pakistan figures of Hindu population in the country only denote Hindus excluding Scheduled Caste Hindus. In fact, all sects and casts of Hindus as categorized above are 5.5 percent in Pakistan and most of them are from the indigenous population of Sindh, where they count over 7 million. Government of Sindh itself a few years ago rejected the central governments data of Hindus in Sindh mentioning that actual population of Hindu in Sindh is more than declared through census. Several factors exist to cause a possible massive forced exodus of Sindhi Hindus. In the recent exodus attempt, authorities as well as the community numerously mentioned 'security' as a reason of exodus which if seen carefully embodies the various connotations of ideology, economy, power politics, fanaticism, arable landholder allies of fanatics attached with the security establishment, along with some strategic demographic ill notions within security establishment of Pakistan.
Sindh is a demographically vulnerable province of Pakistan where the indigenous Sindhi, above 17 percent whom is Hindu, are facing threat of being systematically and gradually are tried to be converted into a permanent minority on their historical homeland. In August 1947, they were 98 percent of the province out of which 35 percent were Hindus. In fact, Sindh has become a large refugee receptor from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Punjabi speaking districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa.
The history of political and social conflicts in Pakistan is a history of the demographic conflicts based on invasions and struggles for securities among the federating states (Provinces) and particularly between Punjab province (sixteen Punjabi speaking districts) and the rest. It is an emerging public concern in Sindh that north of the province is being converted into the second Taliban hub of Pakistan through extraordinary creations of religious extremists, frequent settlement of ethnic Punjabis and increase in the supported anti-Hindu activities. This demographic threat has also been a major factor in harboring the recent secessionist wave among ethnic Sindh nation, who, according to Pakistani English and Sindhi dailies of March 24, 2012, took to the streets of Karachi in hundreds of thousands on March 23 and demanded secession of Sindh from Pakistan. A couple of dozens of militancy incidents have been reported in the province thereafter; however it has been the MI Pakistan that has been doing and tossing the name Sindhudesh / Sindh Liberation Army (SLA) such activities in a bid to further skew the recruitment of ethnic Sindhi in the civil and security establishment of Sindh and Pakistan.
The law and order situation is worst in northern Sindh since the uprising against military rule during 1980s. Sindh was non-tribal before 1990; however, its northern districts are now tribal fiefdoms. The widely considered milestone among Sindhi people for this retrogression is the establishment of Pakistan's largest cantonment in Pano Aqil, Sukkur of the northern Sindh during late 1980s. Strangely, most of the military installations in Sindh are near Hindu settlements; therefore, one assumes that a demographic strategic-security notion of the establishment might have been one factor behind displacing Hindus from there. Ironically, Hindus are being considered a demographical threat by the security establishment, majority of which considers Hindus and Indians interchangeable. Evacuee property law of the country validates this argument when it categories the property of Hindus who left Sindh after 1971 as an 'enemy property'. (Shah, Zulfiqar, Pakistan officials confessed MI Pakistan acts as S.L.A blog on www.zulfisindh.blogspot.com)
Sindhi Hindus are a trade and business backbone of the land. Their exodus will hence create a new business space for ethnic Punjabis in Sindh. On the other hand, Sindhi arable landholder are gradually losing their economic, social and political power base. Majority of them is traditionally secular, which was historically witnessed during the partition of India; when communal violence gripped the subcontinent, Sindh was peaceful and harmonious. After recent wave of Sindhi nationalism and freedom movement, a Hindu exodus is the most suitable for the establishment to convert ethnic Sindhis into permanent minority on their historical land, who may easily be outnumbered in any post exodus scenario by the immigrant Punjabis.
Punjab bordering northern Sindh, once eastern business hub of the subcontinent and housing a large number of Hindus, has now become hub of Madrasahs of politically motivated and radical brands of fundamentalists. Being just a ten hour road journey from both Kandahar and Delhi, (if border-entry diversions are not considered), it was a trade hub with Eurasia, Central Asia and Afghanistan until early 1910s. Hindus in Sindh and particularly in its northern parts are often kidnapped, plundered, murdered and are forcedly converted to Islam by these a few Mullahs or their associate criminals. Earlier Rinkel Kumari was abducted, forced converted to Islam and was raped by more than one person. This happened because security agencies' associated criminals are assigned to do that in Sindh particularly India bordering districts and area where cantonments of Pakistan exist. Recently Raveena and Reena has been abducted from same area and by the same criminals based in district Ghotki and instructed by anti-Punjabi culture ethnic Punjabi within the security establishment of Pakistan. In Rinkle Kumari's case, the iconic Justice, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftekhar Chaudhry violated and ordered against the 1940 Resolution of Pakistan; the Constitution of Pakistan; international law and the Islamic Jurisprudence when he said, according to daily Dawn, since Rinkle Kumari was now Muslim, she cannot stay with her mother because she was Hindu (case hearing date March 19, 2012, www.indiatoday.com). In fact, Rinkle Kumari herself requested Chief of Pakistan in the Supreme Court, Islamabad that she want stay with her mother.
According to a South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) and Aurat Foundation 2015 report every year 1000 minority girls are converted to Islam. (Daily The Hindu, In Pakistan, the Problem of Forced Conversion, April 13, 2015.)
Sindh Assembly has legislated and resoluted thrice on Hindu of Sindhi between 2013 to 2018 that includes a) declaring that reduced population figures of Hindu in Sindh by the central government of Pakistan; b) Sindhi Criminal Law (amendment act 2015) under which forced conversion of minorities / Hindus is act of crime and punishable for 3-5 year imprisonment; Sindh Hindu Marriage Act that later on was amended in 2018. (Daily Awami Awaz, Karachi; 2014; Times of India; 2018 and The Wire , 2019) Sindh has taken to the streets since March to April 2019 against victimization of Hindu. Almost every year since 1980s Sindhi are protesting against victimization of religious minorities. In 2011, a fact finding team of Sindh civil society led by this author, investigated murder of Hindu brothers in Chak, Shikarpur, which Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan / Lashkar-e-Jhangvi were involved, including one of the assassin that was retired Pakistan Army soldier.
Fundamentally, either 359 degree change in statehood of Pakistan or dismemberment of Pakistan is the sustainable solution to these issues; however currently some essential steps can be taken by Government of Sindh: 1) recruitment of Hindu in district police of Sindh Police and their posting as official and soldier in the Hindu ghettos areas to protect the population and their religious places; and 2) community police under Sindh Police of Hindus.
'At times, one finds ideological conflict as the cause of violence against the Hindus, while at others it becomes a pretext. Pakistan's civil and military bureaucracy is largely ethnic Punjabi, followed by a tiny number of Urdu-speaking community from Sindh and Pashtuns-Hazaras from KPK. Majority of the Punjabi and Urdu-speaking bureaucrats are the first or second generation of the refugees who migrated during the partition of India. Therefore, anti-Hindu mindset based on hatred caused by the violence of partition is still hounding Pakistan.
Pakistan, no doubt, desperately needs to carry on anti-Taliban campaigns at the Afghan borders; however it primarily needs to liberalize state ideology and mindset of bureaucracy; de-Talibanise Pakistani society; control radical Madrasahs, secularize academic curriculum and ensure security and equal rights to Hindus, Christians and other minority groups in accordance with the Resolution of 1940 claimed by Pakistan as Republic Document. It also requires urgent federal reforms by turning Pakistan into confederation, assuring demographic and national sovereignty to the federating provinces; and hold referendum that the foundations as mentioned above on which Pakistan was realized has not been materialized over last seven decades. Separation of religion from the state is a prerequisite for it. It is niche that the only peaceful from religious extremism perspective specially should take hold the control of nuclear arsenal in Pakistan; this is only possible when thousands years secular legacy holders Sindhi become part of security regime of Pakistan. Otherwise, the legacy of partition will space out too many other partitions in Pakistan after 1971.
Kidnap of Sindhi Children and turning them suicide bomber
According to estimates worked out by involuntarily closed down The Institute for Social Movements, Pakistan (ISM) over 20000 infants Muslim and Hindu Sindhi children have been kidnapped since 2000 from Kandhkot, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Khairpur, Larkana, Dadu and Naushehro Feroz districts on the orders of Inter-Service-Intelligence (ISI) affiliated officials, who also in certain matter act according to their individual ideologies, for their criminal use in suicide bombing and terrorism through Taliban, Al-Qaida, Islamic State aka Hizbul Ahrar and other similar outfits.
Converting Sindhi into minority through new human settlements
People of Sindh have been protesting against construction of two human settlements Zulfiqaraad and Bahriya Town. Zulfiqarabad is a new port city that is to be constructed in district Thatta near Karachi. Bahriya Town is a human settlement project that will encompass Karachi and its outskirt. Bahria Town will settle 500,000 persons in the settlement meanwhile both of the project will settle 10 million people in Sindh in the long run. The construction of these projects is against the will of the Sindhi people because construction of these cities is a conspiracy to convert indigenous ethnic Sindhi people into minority on their own homeland Sindh. in 2017, Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah halted Zulfiqarabad Port and City project, and said that the Government of Sindh will built Zulfiqarabad itself, whenever possible. Bahria Town scheme is spread around 14 square kilometers and Zulfiqarabad is around 242 square kilometer.
According to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Zulfiqarabad project would likely have negative impact of the project on Marho Kotri Wildlife Sanctuary. Four talukas (sub-districts) of Thatta district Sindh, 480 villages, six archaeological sites, 17 creeks of the Indus river delta, 223 kilometers of a coastal belt and over 400,000 people are at risk of displacement.
Indigenous Sindhi are majority on their historical land Sindh that is house to estimated over 60 million people.
Employment rights violation
Indigenous ethnic Sindhi of Sindh province in Pakistan is not given employment in natural resources exploration and exploitation industries that exploit natural resources from Sindh.
According to the Pakistan Energy Book 2007, an estimated one million four hundred fifteen (1,000,415 MMcf) million cubic feet of natural gas is produced in Sindh, which accounts for 70.77 percent of Pakistan's total gas production; Sindh produces 13.87 million barrels of oil annually, which is 56.36 percent of Pakistan's total oil production. Today and estimated over 70 percent Pakistan's oil production is from Sindh. Oil extracted from Sindh had an annual value of $1.75 billion in 2007, out of which the Sindh's financial receipts were 12.5 percent. The employment share of ethic Sindhi is estimated 0.1 percent. In June 2011, the elected parliament in Pakistan, through the 18th constitutional amendment, transferred authority over the country's natural resources to the provinces that improved Provinces' financial share in their own resources, however the amendment has not yet been implemented, and the authority to negotiate exploration of coal reservoirs in Sindh has been unlawfully handed over to the central government. It is worth mentioning that unearthed coal reserves in Sindh are 175 billion tons.
Until 2008, Sindh consumed 45 percent of its gas production, while Punjab consumed 930 percent of its total gas production. Despite their highest shares of the natural resources of Pakistan, Sindh and Balochistan are kept out of the development mainstream. This is validated by the Millennium Development Goals Report of 2005 issued by the Government of Pakistan, which mentions that the oil-, gas- and coal-rich districts of Sindh and Baluchistan had poor indicators of human development. An estimated 76 percent of Pakistan's known oil reserves are located in Sindh, but extremely centralized economic and fiscal federalism has given birth to the conflict between the province and the center.
Sindhi are also not recruited into the security departments, forces and services as well as civil services. Sindhi are below 1 percent in the armed forces and services of Pakistan.
Non-existence of employment opportunities for indigenous ethnic Sindhi in the industries based on the natural resources of their historical and native land Sindh is violation of international law. It is a violation of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Article 8 (1-e), 15 (2), 16, 17 (3), 21, 23, 31, and 32.
Water rights violation
The Water Apportionment Accord is an agreement on the sharing of waters of the Indus Basin between the Provinces in Pakistan. It is based on the water share of Punjab 47%, Sindh 42% Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 8% and Baluchistan 3%. The Accord was signed into effect 25 years ago on March 21, 1991 and is the most significant piece of water agreement in Pakistan after the Indus Waters Treaty, which is an agreement on sharing of waters between India and Pakistan.
Sindh water share according to Water Apportionment Accord has never been released to the province in last 25 years. The accord mentions that in the situation when there is water shortage in River Indus, provinces will also share water shortage according to the percentage of their water share in accordance with Water Apportionment Accord. Punjab province, Pakistan takes water share of Sindh and Balochistan province usually and also when water is surplus as well as in scarcity. Recently on March 24, 2017 Indus River System Authority (IRSA) told Government of Sindh that 7000 cusecs of water from its share has been stolen from Indus. The continuous water theft of Sindh water share by Punjab has caused water scarcity in Sindh, degradation of subsoil water quality, seawater intrusion into Indus Delta and caused millions of dollars loss every year to the people of Sindh.
The Indus delta mangrove ecosystem spans an area of about 600,000 hectares between Karachi and Seer Creek. Dense mangroves grow in numerous areas such as Korangi and Khudi in the north, and Pakar and Sir Creek in the south. Medium level mangroves are widely scattered across the Indus delta, forming about 35 percent of the total vegetation. Studies indicate that from 1985 to 2000, the mangrove cover decreased from 228,812 to 73,001 hectares. Large swathes of dense mangrove forest have thinned, while sparsely covered islands and creeks have become entirely bare. The situation has had adverse effects on the livelihoods of the people of the region – both fishery resources and livestock levels have been depleted. The diverse habitat the delta had provided for many birds, including herons, vultures, kingfishers and larks – as well as reptiles and fish – is under threat. There is also the threat of cyclones as the Sindh coast comes within the proximity of tsunami waves in the Indian Ocean; mangroves play an important role in creating resistance to such waves.
The disappearance of the mangrove cover also exposes soil that is easily eroded by the river water, in due course causing submerged soft-mud flats. The main reason for the problem is the absence of Indus river water in the delta, which has led to the landward inclination of seawater from the Arabian Sea, resulting in increased salinity levels and a reduction in sediments and soil nutrients.
Freshwater pushes seawater back, while mangrove forests provide natural fences for the coastal plains saving them from destructive waves. Reduction in downstream water discharge in the Indus River has allowed the sea to take over the coastal plains and reduce the mangrove cover, thus allowing erosion and the high tide occupation of coastal plains. Consequently, 1,220,360 acres of fertile land in the Thatta and Badin districts were under seawater by 2002. Today, the figure is 2.2 million acres (Data released by the then Sindh Assembly member Ms. Sassui Palejo in a press conference), causing billion rupee losses to the agricultural economy. Tehsil Keti Bandar is comprised of 43 dehs (a unit of land in a sub-district) with an area of 144,083 acres, out of which 28 dehs have been submerged by the sea while 14 dehs have been damaged partially.
The road from Keti Bandar to the riverbank of the Indus near Kharo Chhan town is either surrounded by sea or barren tracts. Red rice, a prized crop once cultivated in the area, has long since been abandoned. According to the revenue department, 86 per cent of the 235,485 acres of fertile land in Kharo Chhan Tehsil [talukas] have been intruded upon by the sea. The people of this region work mainly as fishermen, with some subsistence farmers. Gradually, they displaced as their livelihoods disappeared. In the last decade, the population of the town has decreased from nearly 15,000 to just 5,000.
A majority of the deltaic population depends on fisheries, which also indirectly provide the basis of other minor trades and occupations. In 1999, the Indus delta contributed 333,047 of Pakistan's overall marine fish production out of 474,665 metric tons. A drastic reduction in the catch of fish has been observed in recent years. For example the Palla, a species of marine fish that swims from the sea through the Indus River for hundreds of miles up to Sukkur Barrage and returns back to the sea, has been severely depleted due to declines in the Indus water flow in the deltaic region. Palla previously accounted for 70 percent of the total catch in the past; today that figure has dwindled to just 15 per cent. Production of Palla in 1980 was 1,859 metric tons; this fell to only 265 metric tons in 1995 and just 222 metric tons 1999. Livestock has faced similar losses. According to the Provincial Directorate of Animal Husbandry, animal populations suffered the declines between 1991 and 2000: 38 percent of cattle, 45 percent of buffaloes, 40 percent of sheep, 37 percent of goats, 40 percent of camels, 57 percent of horses and 35 percent of donkeys.
According to a study conducted by the Institute of Chemical Studies, University of Sindh, the flora in the riverbed below Sujawal Bridge in coastal Thatta district is completely of marine origin. The report indicates that fertile agricultural land on the bank of the Indus near the village Sunda, a town near Hyderabad, changed into barren land (with salt contents 10 to 20 times higher than the riverbank bed) due to the use of Indus water with high salt contents. The backflow of seawater is also affecting underground water in the delta region. The fishing village along the left bank was using underground water with Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) up to 4,300 ppm (parts per million). The World Health Organization's maximum permissible limit for human consumption is 1,500 ppm.
A study conducted by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum points out that the ecological degradation process of the Indus delta began with the development of mega irrigation infrastructures on the Indus River during the pre-partition era. This process began in the 1890s, when the British developed the Punjab irrigation system, followed by the development of the Sukkur Barrage in 1932, the construction of the Kotri Barrage in 1955 and the Guddu Barrage in 1962. Subsequently, two huge dams were constructed, the Mangla and Tarbela dams in 1967 and 1974 respectively. There are now 19 barrages and 43 canal systems with 48 off-takes on the river system in Pakistan, creating the world's largest contiguous man made system of 61,000 km of canals and 105,000 water courses, irrigating 35 million acres of land. Three storage reservoirs – Mangla on the River Jhelum and Tarbela and Chashma on the Indus River were built, with a total storage capacity of 20 MAF (million acre feet). As a result the Indus River freshwater discharge in the deltaic region has been reduced to one-fifth of its natural flow and the river has been confined to a single channel almost down to the coastal area. According to ecological studies undertaken by this author the delta needs 35 MAF of water a year to maintain the ecological balance necessary for the continued existence of the delta and its communities. The oil-rich Badin people live in horrendous conditions.
Punjab province in Pakistan wants to construct controversial Kalabagh Dam against which the Provincial Assemblies of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa have passed unanimous resolutions. If Kalabagh Dam is constructed people of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa provinces would be economically and culturally devastated. Besides, Punjab province has opened Greater Thal canal through which water share of Sindh is stolen and diverted to the Punjab province of Pakistan.
In 2000s, according to daily Dawn, Karachi Parliamentarians from Sindh in National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan were invited by President General Pervez Musharaf in President House, Pakistan, where President Musharaf told them that central government of Pakistan will give constitutional guarantees if Sindh requires but give consent for construction of Kalabagh Dam. The Sindh Parliamentarians unanimously said they require one constitutional guarantee -- if the Kalabagh Dam is built for the irrigation purpose, Sindh will stand a separate country.
Through this, several international instruments are violated:
i. Charter of the United Nations: Article 1
ii. Universal Declaration on Human Rights: Article 2
iii. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Article 1
iv. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Article 1 (1) and Article 1(2)
v. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People: Article 8 (1-b), 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, and 37
vi. Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses: Article 5, 6, 10, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 32
The ethnic cleansing and genocide in Sindh, a brief glimpse presented here, is a crime of genocide and ethnic cleansing according to international law:
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and People, legislated through UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 14th December 1960 confers right to the governments and peoples of previous colonies that their petition / cases / communications should heard by the international judiciary. Although Pakistan is not signing State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC); however the gross human rights violation and their nature make these matters jurisdiction of the ICC and International Court of Justice.
The above acts of human rights crimes come in the ambit of these articles of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court:
Article 5 (a, b, d), aggression against the people of Sindh and Balochistan that are countries within Pakistan according to "Pakistan" Resolution 1940 ; Article 6 (a, b, c, e) regarding the abduction of children and infants to turn them suede bomber and terrorists (militants); Article 7 (a, c, d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k) ethnic cleansing of Sindhi Hindu and devastation of Indus Delta area as well as water theft of Sindh water share; besides, Article 8 a (i, ii, iii) and b (xxiii, xxiv,) and c (iii) also applies. On the other hand, Article 8 c (iii) the war crimes in Balochistan, and bombing civilians as well as unliterary aggression causing massacres of unarmed civilians has been there since 1983 to 2019.
Sindhi nation today
Indigenous Sindhi while retaining their indigenous rights, consider Sindh born Urdu, Bihar, Punjabi, Pashun and Bengali as Sindhi of their mother tongue origin. They are sons and daughters of the soil. Around two hundred thousand Rohingyans were given refuge in Sindh; however central authorities of Pakistan issued citizenship to them within days and provided land for shelter. In fact unlike any other federations and confederation (s) in the world, in Pakistan citizenship only is issued by the center without existence of any law for awarding citizenship. Sindh has reservations over it. The deep concerns of Sindh regarding Rohingyans are their possible misuse as terrorists in name of Islam.
Pakistan, basically, is undergoing the state anarchy today. It has attempted a chemistry change in the nature of the state apparatus during Musharaf; however on the baseless and unsustainable line, which has proved result less in almost all arenas. State, globally, is considered a power structure of a country, which has legitimacy to use the violence through certain law enforcing agencies. The crises in Pakistan is that besides undergoing seven decades of ethnic (national), linguistic and religious discriminations in almost all individual, social, political, economic and cultural aspects, it has shared state apparatus legitimacy to use violence with the non-state actor that carry ethnic, racial and religious discrimination and apartheid, which can be called para-militries in Pakistan that are the hubs of terrorism.
This situation, having multi-dimensional aspects of planned human rights violations in a bid to permanently subdue Sindh and Sindhi people as well as Baloch and is crime against humanity. These various acts by Pakistan together cause ethnic cleansing of Sindhi people. A new human rights approach and urgent intervention is required towards Sindh and Sindhi along with Baloch by international community and human rights fraternity.
It is important to mention here, the Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa is the worst humanitarian devastation of last 70 years of human history, a single district of which is equal to a Bruit. Meanwhile, the prolonged, planned and systematic devastation and ethnic cleansing in Sindh and Balochistan are two other case studies in the post Hitler holocaust. If the figures of rapes and murders of Bengalis in previous East Pakistan which is Bangladesh today combined with the violence by the state-sponsored entities and security regime parts themselves in Sindh particularly Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, Balochistan, and Siraiki, the seventeen or around southern and Indus bank districts in Punjab, the figure will exceed the causalities of First and Second World War together.
Sources / References:
Newspapers and Websites
· The Milli Gazzatte, Dec 16-31, 2011
· Daily Awami Awaz, 2014
· Daily Awami Awaz, March 2017
· Daily Times of India, 2018
· Daily The Hindu, In Pakistan, the Problem of Forced Conversion, April 13, 2019
· The Wire, A report by Veengus, Karachi, 2019
· Shah, Zulfiqar, Pakistan officials confessed MI Pakistan acts as S.L.A blog on https://zulfisindh.blogspot.com
· Wikipedia, Bahria Town Karachi
· Wikipedia, Zulfiqarabad
Books & Research Papers
· Proceedings of the Sindh Legislative Assembly, Official Report, Vol. XVII-No.6, Wednesday 3rd March, 1943, Karachi on www.pas.gov.pk
· Directorate of Films and Publishing, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, 1983, pp 5-23 on www.columbia.edu , Columbia University, USA
· Liaqat to Sikandar, March113, 1940, NAP, A.F.M.F.129 in Dar, Farooq Ahmed, Prof., Jinnah and the Lahore Resolution, JRSP, Vol. 52, No. 1, January-June 2015
· Khaliquzamman, Chaudhry, Pathway to Pakistan, Longmans Greens & Co Ltd. 1961, London, pp 233-34 in Dar, Farooq Ahmed, Prof., Jinnah and the Lahore Resolution, JRSP, Vol. 52, No. 1, January-June 2015
· Liaqat to Sikandar, March113, 1940, NAP, A.F.M.F.129 in Dar, Farooq Ahmed, Prof., Jinnah and the Lahore Resolution, JRSP, Vol. 52, No. 1, January-June 2015
· Shah, Zulfiqar, A Tale of Strategic Talbanization, Truthout, 2014
· Shah, Zulfiqar, Roots of Sindhi Hindu Exodus from Pakistan, CLAWS, India, 2012
· Pakistan Energy Book, 2007
· Shah, Zulfiqar, Political Economy of Federalism in Pakistan, Truthout, USA, 2013
· Shah, Zulfiqar, Indus Delta, An Environment Impact Assessment, PFF Karachi, 2006
Author is a human rights activist since last 20 years with particular focus on civil and political rights in Sindh and Balochistan. He is MA Philosophy. He was Executive Director of The Institute of Social Movements (ISM). He has been associated / affiliated with the Tribhuvan University, Nepal; IAES (deemed) University, Rajasthan, India; Biduku Collage of Journalism, Bangalore; Christian Studies Centre, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. He has also contributed in academic work with the Birmingham University, UK and has conducted research work for European Commission. He is member of UN accredited civil society forum at UN Geneva on International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He is also an author of some books and contributes with some dailies and websites.