Pakistan is now sixty-seven. Its history until now has been a history of the state versus its citizenry, particularly citizenry of non-Punjabi and non-Urdu origin. If a people’s history of Pakistan is documented, it would become the voluminous account on the state crimes.
Pakistan was carved out of undivided India against the will of the Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, Sikh and Punjabi Hindu majorities of their motherlands. The elections of 1946 were a kind of virtual referendum on the partition, in which the anti-partition Unionist Party won in Punjab; Congress won in NWFP (now Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa); the All India Muslim League (AIML) lost in Sindh, giving lead to Indian National Congress (INC) and Sindhi nationalist forces. Balochistan was autonomous with a bicameral parliament. Balochistan was occupied by Pakistani forces in 1948 as it was not part of Pakistan according to the British partition plan. East Bengal was the only state of India where AIML won; however they bid farewell to Pakistan amid heinous state crimes against humanity there in 1971. It is, thus, an untold truth that the idea of Pakistan was rejected by theSindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa provinces. Balochistan was not part of Pakistan in 1947 and Sindh rejected AIML in the 1946 elections, i.e. both aspired to reclaim the status of sovereign countries, which they lost after Britain’s 1843 invasion. Sindh and Balochistan historically have remained sisterly sovereign countries. Together, they were a kingdom for centuries also. Sindhi, historically, form a significant population of Balochistan and claim Baloch identity. Simultaneously, Baloch are a significant population of Sindh and claim Sindhi identity.
Britain proposed to Nehru and Jinnah that they should keep the Premiership of India and Pakistan respectively; leaving the position of Governor General for Lord Mountbatten. Jinah, on the instance of AIML leadership, rejected the idea. This was the first step in creating a gulf between the two countries.
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Since August 14, 1947, the Pakistani state has undergone the process of Muhajirization – a process in which people non-indigenous to Pakistan’s territory took over the whole state machinery. The Pakistan Army was largely carved out from Muslim soldiers and officers of the Punjab Regiment of the British Indian Army – who mostly hailed from the area which is now the Punjab state of India. The civil bureaucracy was from Delhi, United Provinces of undivided India that are now UP, Bihar and Utrankhand as well as Central Provinces that are now Madhya Pardesh, Telangana and Seemandhra. AIML leadership hailing from these areas took over party affairs in newly-created Pakistan. AIML’s local leadership from Sindh and Punjab was forced to quit the party within the first seven years of the partition.
In 1948, Urdu speaking refugees (Muhajirs) from India attacked Sindhi Hindu settlements in the Ram Bagh area of Karachi and Hirabad area of Hyderabad cities in Sindh, thus caused a mass exodus of Sindhi Hindus to India. Sindh Chief Minister Ayub Khuhro and Pakistan Governor General Jinnah took action against the violators. Jinnah said that the criminals must be punished for their offense. Both Jinnah and Khuhro were unheard. Khuhro’s Sindh Government was dismissed. AIML’s Punjabi and Urdu leadership, both composed of refugees from the areas of today’s India, asked Jinnah to avoid the business of the state and take rest in the Ziarat area of Balochistan. Jinnah was having acute asthma and he was sent on leave by his party to Ziarat, which usually remains at below zero temperature even in the hottest days of summer.
The Pakistan Army waged war against India first in 1948 over Kashmir without approval from Governor General Jinnah. This is the foundation of the militarization of Pakistan.Moreover, democracy was not in the favor with the immigrant leadership of AIML since they had no demographic following in the provinces of Pakistan; therefore they preferred and supported the non-democratic mode of governance in Pakistan. Fatima Jinnah, Jinnah’s sister, fought the elections against first military dictator General Ayub Khan, who not only manipulated the election results, but also dubbed Fatima Jinnah an Indian agent. It was the first time Pakistan’s intelligence agencies were given the task of playing a role in manipulating election results and defeating civilian leaders. Over the period of sixty-seven years, Pakistan’s military has become not only the power-hub in itself; it has also become a business and industrial oligarchy. Today, the largest areas of prime land, the major volume of industrial investment and non-industrial as well as services capital is controlled by the army’s military corporation. The military does not only take a major share from the country’s budget, but also receives retirement benefits, pensions and other perks from the civilian portion of budgets. Due to ethnic Punjabi dominance in Pakistan’s Army, Punjab also gets the main share of resources from the country’s defense budget. Similarly, the civil and other security departments of state, are Punjabized and get the major chunk of fiscal resources in terms of salaries, retirement funds, pensions and other benefits. Thus, a multi-pronged system of exploitation has been in place for sixty-seven years.
Punjabi internal-colonialism in Pakistan is an ugly and brutal copy of early and mid-twentieth century imperialism. Following the examples of the British, and to some extent the French, colonizers, Punjab shifted its population to Sindh and Balochistan provinces. It managed the migration of Hazara people from Afghanistan into Balochistan and allied with them; simultaneously, it allied with the Urdu-speaking migrants from India in Sindh. This was done in a bid to cast indigenous Sindhi out of Sindh and Baloch as well as Pashtuns from Balochistan. The same model was applied in Siraki-speaking South Punjab that either has remained independent historically or has been part of Sindh. The settlement of ethnic Punjabi in South Punjab was a bid to convert it into a Punjabi land.The state organism in Pakistan has been exclusively Punjabi, with the junior partners like the Urdu-speaking population from Sindh, Hazara from Balochistan and the ethno-lingual Hindko-speaking community from Hazara division of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa (KPK). This chemistry suited a Punjabi internal-colonial power domination and exploitation of Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Siraiki people. Hence, in the military generally and its formations including the Sindh Regiment, Baloch Regiment, Frontier Forces and Punjab Regiment as well as border security forces like Pakistan Rangers – Punjabi soldiers and officers with a smaller number of Urdu-speaking Muhajirs have predominated. Frontier Constabularies of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa and Balochistan, and the Bajwar Forces of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have Pashtun majorities only because of the Afghanistan border.
It has been widely evident that the Census in Pakistan has been a tool of demographic fallacies so that Punjabi and their allied ethnic groups may fallaciously maintain a numerical majority over the rest of the ethnic-nations in Pakistan. In almost all census reports in Pakistan, the numbers of Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Sikaikis have been artificially reduced so that their share not only in state-organisms, but also their strength in the eyes of international community as well as regional forces may be minimized. Thus, a deliberate attempt was made to divide Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhuwa for the maintenance of Punjabi hegemony in Pakistan.
Feudalism and Urban terror-lords
The much touted Feudalism in contemporary Pakistan is the result of militarization. In fact, the military wanted to create fiefdoms in the districts and sub-districts of Sindh, South Punjab and parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa so that the power of the military may remain unchallenged and freedom movements in Sindh and Balochistan as well for Siraikistan in South Punjab could be countered. Simultaneously, ethnic terrorism was created in Karachi; hence the city was virtually handed over to terror-lords. Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Multan and Faisalabad were handed over to the urban mafia and the land grabbers. If Pakistani police, Pakistan Rangers and the military stop supporting these elements, no feudalism, urban and rural fiefdoms, urban terrorism or ethnic leadership can survive in Pakistan. Today, the military’s occasional anti-Feudalism jargon is echoed by some urban racial-ethnic political parties; however the reality behind this discourse is that a significant cadre of rural leadership from Sindh, Balochistan, Siraiki Southern Punjab and KPK is looking for transformative reforms in Pakistani politics and the state. They also uphold secular and liberal values. In Balochistan, they have been waging a war of independence; in Sindh, they want to get rid of military interference and Punjab’s hegemony; in Southern Punjab, they struggle for Siraikistan and in KPK, they are fighting with the Taliban. The military establishment is manipulating progressive anti-Feudal language for their own political gimmicks.
Salafis, who were against the creation of Pakistan before 1947, started controlling the state apparatus and state affairs later on. Although militant-Salafism was a result of the West-USSR cold war; it had heinous internal aspects. The Pakistani establishment used Salafi extremism against the freedom movement in Bangladesh earlier; later on, they were strengthened in Siraiki South Punjab to counter the Siraikistan province movement. This was also practiced in Balochistan against the Baloch freedom movement, and now it is being done in Sindh to counter a possible war of independence of Sindh against Pakistan.
The history of federalism in Pakistan is the history of Punjab’s exploitation of the Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Siraiki nations. If Sindh is taken as an example, the whole internal-colonial matrix of Pakistan would become cognizable. Sindh is the richest natural resources economy in comparison with the rest of the provinces / states of Pakistan and India as well as the South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Sindh has been contributing two-thirds of Pakistan’s overall economy and revenues. In return, it has been taking back less than a one-eighth share of its own contribution to the federal government. If the two indicators, inter-provincial remittances and flight of capital are reviewed, the traits of exploitation become crystal clear. Punjab receives internal remittances from Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, out of which about ninety percent comes there from Sindh alone. Whereas, remittances from Punjab to rest of the provinces together are near to nonexistent. On the other hand, if the data concerning trends in the flight of capital are reviewed, one finds that over the last sixty-seven years, the flight of capital is directed towards Punjab with increases in each succeeding decade. Hence, Sindh, the province which contributes the most in economic and fiscal terms to both the federal government as well as Punjab province, has negligible participation in the state-organism. The rest of the provinces show a similar, if less great imbalance.
Demoralization and Criminalization
A majority of the criminal gangs in Sindh and Balochistan are state-supported. They are not only used as pillars of a black economy of drugs and weapons, but also for damaging the peaceful fabric of civil society, harassing unwanted or disliked people and communities and to demoralize as well as criminalize Sindhi and Baloch society whenever their freedom movements and struggle against military dominance in Pakistan are strong. These criminal gangs became organized and active during General Zia’s military regime in the 1980s. The establishment have been using them to create crime, insecurity and disorder in Sindh so that the economic growth of the province should be slowed down and the flight of capital from Sindh to Punjab be stimulated. They have also been used by the establishment to harass Sindhi Hindus so that they may be ethnically cleansed from their motherland. The other examples of demoralization are simple, but very strategic. During the peak years of the anti-military movement in Sindh (1983-1986), the Pakistani establishment facilitated a BBC story on Sindh, in which unmarried girls of a few families of Syed / Shah (Muslim) lineage were forced to marry the Koran, in other words, prevented from a physical marriage for life. These cases were highly publicized although they were exceptional – limited to less than a dozen cases among the population of four million. This, no doubt, was a human rights violation and crime on the basis of superstitions, however those instances were few (today this practice is abandoned) and were extraordinary highlighted in the international media to defame Sindhi society internationally since Sindh was waging war against the military for the freedom of Sindh during 1983-1986. Simultaneously, when the Baloch freedom movement was at its peak in the late 2000s, the issue of burying the girls alive was much publicized, while issues like honor killing and child labor in Sindh and Balochistan were also manipulated at various times in the media. Another aspect of this demoralization are the fallacious facts and figures concerning human rights violations, in which establishment-guided and Punjabi-led human rights bodies have been trying to portray Sindh and Balochistan as gender-insensitive societies. The realities are different, however. Punjab has a heinous history of victimizing women if data for last three decades are reviewed. The highest number of honor killings, rapes, acid attacks on girls and child labor incidence are reported every year from Punjab; however the Pakistan establishment and its cronies in civil society have been connecting these crimes with Sindh and Balochistan in their international expression.
It is widely believed among Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Siraikis that the ongoing decade will be a conclusive one for Pakistan. Contemporary Pakistan as well as its entire history as a state is replete with crimes against humanity against the Bengali, Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Siraki people. Freedom movements in contemporary Pakistan suggest that at least Sindh and Balochistan are bound to emerge as separate sovereign countries sooner or later. This would not only serve the interests of tens of millions people in Pakistan, as well as peace in Afghanistan, India, Iran and Central-and-South Asia, but also liberal, tolerant and secular world citizenry.