Demand For Sindh’s Division Is Absurd And Impractical
Born to an emigrant family in Larkana during the early 1950s, I was fortunate to have experienced plurality and tolerance as was prevalent in that golden era. Our neighbourhood presented a beautiful bouquet in which people of all religious and linguistic hues shared a life pattern with care, love and affinity. Mosques, imambargahs and temples co-existed without any malice, prejudice and biases.
We never faced any resistance or restrictions from our parents from attending religious festivals. We frequently visited majalis during the first 10 days of Muharram while enjoying the Hindu festival of Holi with the same fervour.
I vividly remember watching the Holi procession with happiness, excitedly watching our Hindu brethren chant on drumbeat. I remember being showered with rainbow colours while a few of the ladies entered our house and meted the same treatment to my maternal grandmother, my mother and aunts.
Irrespective of religion or sect, the entire neighbourhood would participate in a marriage as their own function. In this environment while we were being transformed in the nuances of Sindhi culture, every town and village experienced the same makeover. New realities were emerging, friendships were flourishing and a new culture was evolving.
On the other hand, Karachi, Hyderabad and to some extent parts of Sukkur were unaffected with this cultural changes. The Urdu-speaking people had disassociated with emerging trends and continued living in bubble. The first and second generations of Urdu speakers were moulded into native Sindhis in upper and lower Sindh. Even today, when friends from Urdu speaking family meet up, the exchange of pleasantries is in Sindhi. I know many Urdu speaking families who have buried their parents in Larkana to fulfil their wishes. My father is buried in Larkana, a place he chose to call home.
In 1947, majority of emigrants to Pakistan were ethnic Punjabis and the Urdu-speaking community. Punjabis whose majority came to the Pakistani side of Punjab did not face any linguistic or cultural problems and soon integrated and assimilated. However, the Urdu speaking people who came to the new land with aspirations and dreams of new future settled in various parts of Pakistan were culturally and linguistically different from the population of their adopted land.
Those displaced from their ancestral lands settled in new places and started their lives. They learned their customs, traditions, social norms, language and well-adjusted in their adopted lands. These settlers were confronted with two diametrically opposed cultures. Those who made Karachi as their abode did not disassociate from Delhi, Lucknow or Hyderabadi cultures or Ganga-Jamna culture. Whereas those who were settled in the nook and corner in Sindh found their way in the process of assimilation gradually.
I along with my generation of Urdu speakers cannot sever our eternal bond from the land of Sindh. It is my Janam Bhoomi as well as Prem Bhoomi. The land has given us love, embraced us with open arms. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast, Lal Shahbaz Qalander and Sindhi heroes are my own.
It pains me and the people of my generation who have become true sons and daughters of Sindh when time and again some ripples are created by an ethnic group from Karachi and demands of a new province or bifurcation of Sindh are sounded. A handful bunch of politicians who are completely ignorant of sensibilities are playing with fire. They seem to be oblivious of political realities. Has it ever happened that a minority population who immigrated to a land that gave them shelter and a base, seek division of that land of peace and love.
Furthermore, this proposition is absurd, impractical and vague. We should be proud of the fact that we are the inhabitants and inheritors of one of the oldest civilization in the world. Distinguished Yale University Historian Tim Mackintosh in his recently published book “Arabs: A 3000 Year History of Peoples, Tribes and Empires” writes, “There were occasional sea expeditions, including in the late 630s a short cut from Oman across the Arabian Sea to Sind, the lowland regions of Pakistan.” The point I want to make here that even in those early days the Arabs wanted to conquer this land in view of its prosperity and wealth.
During First and Second World Wars, millions of people were either displaced or forced to expel from the lands which were their homes for hundreds and thousands of years. The subsequent generations of these migrants blended into their new environs, some with difficulty while others with relative ease, but never demanding a separate piece of land to feel emancipated.
Instead of debating on division of Sindh, the disaffected ilk should consider this land as their own and feel pride in calling themselves Sindhis. This is the way forward to make our land a prosperous and progressive. If they have some genuine grievances, they must discuss those in Parliament under a Constitutional framework. It’s high time that sanity should prevail.