Unfolding Of Sindhi Identity In Modern Pakistan – OpEd


Very recently in January 2019 the activists from Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) while observing the 115th anniversary of GM Syed, the founder of Sindhudesh, demanded freedom of the Sindh province from Pakistani occupation, the abolition of human rights abuses in Sindh and religious fundamentalism.

Also earlier in March 2012 a Sindhudesh rally was organized which had a notably low turnout, was followed by a freedom march by the pro-separatist Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) which, according to sources, gathered hundreds of thousands of people to demand independence for Sindhudesh.

Further, a strike called by the pro-separatist Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) on 25 January 2014, resulted in a complete strike in the province, excluding some areas of Hyderabad, Tando, Allahyar, Matiari and Ghotki. In nutshell, Sindhis feel that they are a separate and full-fledged nation, so they have been struggling for self-determination of Sindh.

Beginning of Political planning and fight

In the circumstances, the first Sindhi supported political movement for the creation of a Sindhi state called Sindhudesh was floated by some Sindhi nationalist parties.

The movement is based in the Sindh region of Pakistan and was conceived by the Sindhi political leader G.M. Syed. It emerged in 1967 under the leadership of Syed and Pir Ali Mohammed Rashdi in opposition to the One Unit Policy, the imposition of Urdu by the central government and to the presence of a large number of Muhajir settled in the province.

Later in mid-1980s, Sindhi disenchantment with the Pakistani government erupted into open warfare. During Zia’s regime, guerrilla units raised in the Sindh confronted the Punjabi federal troops from Islamabad. However, poorly organised and ill-prepared insurgency was eventually crashed by the use of coercive power of the state.

However, Sindhi ethno-nationalism, based on a separate Sindhi identity, had made inroads among young intellectuals largely due to the efforts of G.M. Syed who had been a one-time supporter of the demand for Pakistan. He was a charismatic leader with articulate ideas and sufficient economic resourcefulness to support his espousal of what was later known as Sindhi nationalism. He began his own political movement known as the Jeay Sindh Movement. In the late 1980s he became the unchallenged leader of Sindh National Alliance (SNA), which brought together various ideological groups but failed to win any seat in the 1988, 1990 and 1993 elections.

In post-independence Pakistan, the machinations of the Pakistani state convinced Syed, that Sindhis would be marginalized in set up and later in 1972 he proposed the formation of an independent nation under the name ‘Sindhudesh’.

It was a call for the liberation and freedom of Sindhis from Punjabi Muhajir-imperialism. Sindhi separatists totally reject the Parliamentary way of struggle for getting freedom and rights. The concept of Sindhudesh is also supported by the Sindhi Diaspora including Sindhis in India, most of whom had to be relocated out of Sindh after Partition, leaving behind their property as evacuee trust under reciprocal government supervision.

However, with the continuous defeat in elections held in the 1980s and 1990s it was largely weakened, although Syed later advanced his position towards openly demanding separation from Pakistan and the build –up of an independent Sindhudesh in his book, ‘Heenyar Pakistan khey tuttan Khappey and Sindhudesh – A Nation in Chains’.

Struggling political organisations

Recently the movement for Sindhudesh re-emerged after the death of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan (2008) and also gained popularity, Sindhi nationalists judge that Sindh has been used to the advantage of people from non-Sindhi ethnic groups citing the dominance of Muhajir people in key areas of Sindh including Karachi, large scale migration to Sindh from other regions of Pakistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, alleged Punjabi dominance in defence sector, an increase in Taliban migrants moving to Sindh; as well as terrorist related attacks on the region and believe this to be the cause of recent troubles in Sindh.

In the province, now there are many pro-Sindhudesh organisations such as the Jeay Sindh Quami Mahaz (JSQM), World Sindhi Congress (WSC), Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SDLA), Jeay Sindh Tarraqi Passand Party, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), Sindh Nationalist Movement Party (SNMP), and Jeay Sindh Students’ Federation, as student wing of various separatist organisations struggling for the freedom of Sindhudesh following the ideology of G.M.Syed, founded in 1969.

Bashir Khan Qureshi, is the chairman of Jeay Sindh Quami Mahaz, who expressed his desire for the Urdu speaking community to integrate with Sindh, calling them ‘brethren and part of Sindhi nation. The Sindhi nation has been waiting for the last 64 years to secure independence since Punjab has assumed all the powers of the federation, including civil bureaucracy, military and judiciary, while all the resources of Sindh have been placed at the disposal of Islamabad’.

Jeay Sindh Quam is the main guardian of Jeay Sindh theory, a legacy inherited from the G.M. Syed and it believes in peaceful independence based on non-violence. This apart, Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz is one of the major separatist political party in Sindh, Pakistan, that believes in the separation of Sindhudesh from Pakistan.

In contrast to the above, is the Sindhu Desh Liberation Army, a terrorist organization based in Sindh province. A series of minor blasts took place on railway lines, the attacks carried out between November 2010, and February 2011 were claimed by the SDLA, who left pamphlets on the scene that mentioned ‘atrocities’ being carried out against Sindh and promising to continue their struggle till Sindh was granted “freedom”.

The SDLA claims moral inspiration from Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), which they term as a response to “Punjabi domination” of the Pakistani State. Recently a new left wing party, Sindh National Movement Party, for a politically, culturally, economically and geographically independent Sindh was formed in December 2011. It wants to see Sindh as it was in 1843 before the British conquered it

Dr. Rajkumar Singh

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is a University Professor for the last 20 years and presently Head of the P.G. Department of Political Science, B.N. Mandal University, West Campus, P.G. Centre,Saharsa (Bihar), India. In addition to 17 books published so far there are over 250 articles to his credit out of which above 100 are from 30 foreign countries. His recent published books include Transformation of modern Pak Society-Foundation, Militarisation, Islamisation and Terrorism (Germany, 2017),and New Surroundings of Pak Nuclear Bomb (Mauritius, 2018). He is an authority on Indian Politics and its relations with foreign countries.

One thought on “Unfolding Of Sindhi Identity In Modern Pakistan – OpEd

  • September 16, 2019 at 10:46 am

    It appears that the unrests, to put it mildly, in Sindh, PoK and Balochistan are symptomatic of fissures in the deep state of Pakistan and portend trouble that could not be contained. They are the results of successive leaders and the generals in Pakistan using religious extremism, supporting and exporting terrorism and engaging in futile foreign adventures as tools to deflect attention from growing serious domestic economic problems and their incompetence, with the result the leaders have to go cap-in-hand for bailouts by donors. In my view, the self-inflicted wounds have developed deep gangrene.
    The sooner the leaders and the generals realise their folly, and concentrate on economic development instead, the better it will be for the suffering masses in Pakistan. It is a pity they do not realise that the world has passed them by, an outcome that should not come as a surprise in the circumstance. Pakistan is well-endowed with natural resources and human talent but if it is bent on committing hara-kiri do not expect others to save it.
    The writer alludes to “post-independence” Pakistan. If it anyway, gives the impression that there was Pakistan before, that is, before independence, then it is not correct. There was India but no Pakistan before partition. It was widely believed that Pakistan was the creation of the departing colonial power to serve its interests.


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