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When Benazir was killed, Sindhis started to speak and think about their land, language and culture. Not only politicians but civil society as well as newly groomed Sindhi print and electronic media stood up with nationalist politicians.
If truth is distorted about the death of Bashir Qureshi there might be a chaotic situation
Nationalism in Sindh has very deep roots, and one can find this element in Sindhis throughout history, we can trace it from Dodo Soomro to Hosh Mohammad Sheedi; from "Surya Badshah" (Pir Pagaro) to present day nationalists.
One should have no doubt that the spirit behind nationalism in Sindh was G.M Syed. If we look at the 65 years history of Pakistan, politically this country has remained under continuous suppression and oppression. Martial laws have ruined the entire political system of the country.
Love for the land, language, culture and people, was replaced by love of religion. From day one, its citizens were told that: "Pakistan was established under the slogan of religion." This wasn't Mr. Jinnah's idea of Pakistan.
If one is to work on nationalism in Sindh, he or she would find the pure nationalistic layer entering the hearts of young Sindhis during Ayub's horrifying ten-year regime. Amar Jalil, an eye witness of that era; mentions that in preface of his book Jedhen Maan Na Hundas: "To retrieve the evil act of ‘One Unit' field martial Ayub Khan started to reign tyrant, people were unable to breathe, those ten years (1958-1968) created chaos and turmoil."
In western Pakistan it was Sindh that reacted against one unit. That period of horrifying and deadly ten years totally changed the ideology of Sindh. Mystic natured Sindhi people came to defend their very existence.
Jalil further writes: "It wasn't acceptable for us to add word ‘ex-province' with Sindh. In those days, whenever they would mention any province in news through radio, television or newspaper, they would add the word ‘ex-province' before its name.
At the end of Ayub's regime, and Yahya losing half of the country, a new era in Pakistani politics started, it was known as the Bhutto dynasty.
As charismatic as Mr. Bhutto was, he was able to divert Sindhis from nationalism, with his idea of socialism. Sindhi youth filled with nationalism followed him and his slogan: "Roti, Kapra, aur Makan" blindly.
In 1973, Bhutto was able to give a constitution upon which all political forces agreed. Talking about Bhutto, Tariq Ali in Can Pakistan Survive? claims: "In his campaign against the military regime of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Bhutto had stressed the importance of human rights. In one of the first pamphlets produced by the PPP, its leader said: ‘civil liberties hold the key to our future happiness.'"
This cooled the burning fire of nationalism for a time being in Sindh, till General Zia kicked out the charismatic Bhutto on July 5, 1977, and put him behind bars. This was another martial law wearing a religious mask.
Quoting Zia's speech T. Ali writes: "Pakistan is like Israel, an ideological state. Take out Judaism from Israel and it will collapse like house of cards. Take Islam out of Pakistan and make it secular state; it would collapse."
Political activists like Rasool Bux Palejo, Fazil Rahu, Nazir Abbasi, and Sindhi journalists like Sohail Sangi were arrested and tortured. Those were days of bloodshed for the people having leftist socio-political ideas, the Nara Jail, central jails of Hyderabad and Karachi, and the deadly Kotlakhpat Jail, were filled with political activists belonging to the left-wing. But Zia's hunters were unable to stop the waves of politically aware people. He had to face Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD).
It was Benazir Bhutto, who led Pakistan towards democracy in 1988, after eleven hard years of martial law. Sindhi youth, taking BB as a redeemer, entered PPP in large numbers. It seemed that Sindhi nationalism and nationalist political parties were in disarray.
Nationalists of Sindh were divided into many groups. Dr. Qadir Magsi left Jeay Sindh and formed his Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party (STPP). Even Mr. Palejo was able to launch his Awami Tahreek (AT). Mumtaz Bhutto, rejected by his niece Benazir Bhutto, entered Sindhi nationalism by forming Sindh National Student Front (SNSF), and there were many small units and parties.
From the early 1990s to the late 90s, it was a dark period for nationalism in Sindh. After the death of G. M Syed, his party spilt into groups. Highly qualified leaders like Abdul Wahid Arisar, Bashir Khan Qureshi and many others were unable to sit together and new groups were seen within Jeay Sindh, with two new groups - Shafi Burfat's Jeay Sindh Mutahidda Mahaz (JSMM) and Safdar Sarki's Jeay Sindh Tahreek (JST).
However, on the core issues like Kalabagh Dam, or water distribution, they would come together. Still, they were unable to work together for a longer period of time.
Later, Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, grandson of G.M Syed launched Sindh United Party (SUP). Rather than going for the extreme path like other nationalists striving for an independent Sindh, Shah brought the idea of provincial autonomy according to the 1940 Resolution of Pakistan.
He tried to bring Sindhis together telling them: "They can't get rights unless they have their true representation in the assemblies."
In December 2007, when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, there was a huge vacuum of leadership that also hit Sindh hard. Sindhis became fed-up of the political system. The vacuum brought back life to Sindhi nationalism once more. Sindhis started to speak and think about their land, language and culture. Not only politicians but civil society as well as newly groomed Sindhi print and electronic media stood up with nationalist politicians.
People like Ali Kazi of Kawish Group, Zulfiqar Halepoto, Jami Chandio and many others came out with a new ideology of Sindh. Writers like Badar Abro and Ishtiyaq Ansari started to work on history of Sindh on scientific lines. Sindhis showed their resistance on a remark about "Sindhi topi". This revived their cultural values and they reacted very strongly when the walls of Karachi were painted with the slogan, "Separate province for Muhajirs".
Finally one could see the revival of nationalism in Sindh quite clearly from the gathering JSQM on 23rd March this year led by Bashir Khan Qureshi (late) at Karachi, or Shehla Raza shouting on the floor of Sindh Assembly: "We would prefer to die, but won't give away Sindh."
A few days back, JSQM Chairman Bashir Khan Qureshi passed away, the Sindhis as a whole are in anger about the developments after his tragic death. If the authorities show negligence and truth is distorted there might be a chaotic situation and hardly anyone would be able to handle it.