What price honour… – Mohammad Ali Mahar

For the last four years, hardly a single job has been given to a deserving Sindhi candidate in the federal or the provincial government

Remember Howard Hughes, anyone? The notorious, debauched playboy of yesteryears, whose business, aside from designing and flying new airplanes and making third-rate films, was procuring the services of exotic beauties for his amorous escapades in return for money. That debonair millionaire once made an indecent proposal to the young and budding actress Elizabeth Taylor’s mother asking for her daughter in return for one million dollars. He was flatly refused. Years after that journalists asked Elizabeth Taylor whether she should have accepted the offer had she been directly approached. “No way,” replied Taylor, “his socks stink.” Please keep in mind this was in the early 1950s and a million dollars meant truly a lot of money at that time.

Now, for a moment, let us suppose this offer is made to one of our politicians or generals or journalists. How many of them do you think will think twice before accepting the bet without considering the fact that the proposer’s socks stink?

Take, for example, the Sindh People’s Local Government Act (SPLGA-2012) presented and passed by the Sindh Assembly that has effectively separated Karachi from the rest of Sindh. How many of the Sindh Assembly members belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) bothered to consider the ramifications of the bill for the province? According to news reports, they did not even know what the bill contained when they chanted ‘aye’ in the Assembly. A bill passed in five minutes (the PPP members disagree. According to them, it is an exaggeration by the anti-PPP Mian Nawaz Sharif-funded opposition. It took a whopping ‘30 minutes’ to discuss and pass the bill, they proudly proclaim!) will continue to cause harm to Sindh for many years to come, until the bill is repealed. Which it will be sooner or later considering the fate of the One Unit bill, but will ruin the career of many an opportunist in politics.

The current PPP leadership, which is trying to woo the Seraiki population of southern Punjab, has probably read the writing on the wall in Sindh and is trying to shift its powerbase to the Seraiki waseb. It seems that they already know that they have lost Sindh. Completely ignoring the sensitivities of the people of the province, they have alienated the indigenous Sindhi. The party’s appeasement of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) at the cost of Sindhi votes and the recent espousal of the sworn enemies of the PPP and Bhuttos, such as the Shirazis of Thatta, and even Arbab Rahim, in the name of the ‘policy of reconciliation’, is a testament to the fact that the party has realised the situation on the ground and has decided to rely upon the fly-by-night characters of politics. What they are ignoring is the fact that these chameleons would ditch the party, as they have repeatedly done before, at the first sign of changing winds. Where will Mr Zardari and his party go then, having lost their powerbase, Sindh, already?

For the last four years, hardly a single job has been given to a deserving Sindhi candidate in the federal or the provincial government. Even the small jobs are being sold for hundreds of thousands of rupees. All the transfers and postings within the government departments have a price tag. While there has been zero development in rural Sindh, Sindhi people accuse this government of being an accessory to the excesses committed against them in urban Sindh. By handing over Karachi and Hyderabad to the MQM, this government has ensured that the door to employment in these two cities remain closed for Sindhis. Even the people hired during the PPP regimes in the government departments in Karachi are being fired, with this government remaining a silent spectator. Hardly has there been a Sindhi hired in the ministries held by the MQM during this regime or the regimes before.

The doors of educational institutions in Karachi remain shut to the rural population, where the seats in schools are allocated in such a way that it is easier for a person from, say, Gilgit-Baltistan, to get admission in Karachi than a person from Dadu. Recently, when the Sindh government granted the status of university to the Sindh Medical College and named it the Sindh Medical University, the MQM mounted so much pressure on the week and submissive government of Sindh that Mr Zardari had the name changed to Jinnah Sindh Medical University. Why? Because the party of Altaf Hussain, who claims to be a Sindhi in his speeches, while addressing a sponsored crowd of vendible Sindhi intellectuals, did not want a university name starting with the name of the province it is situated in. Reminds me of the times in 1951 when the University of Sindh, originally based in Karachi, had to be moved to Hyderabad because it contained ‘Sindh’ in its name! A new university in the place of the University of Sindh was opened in Karachi the same year through an act of the federal government and was named the University of Karachi!

Corruption is so rampant in the province that a minister from upper Sindh holding a powerful ministry was removed some time ago due to his ineptitude. The public was sick of this man and demanded his removal for a long time. After remaining without a portfolio, the person in question approached the right person and greased a pair of ‘bangled’ hands. He got the ministry back. However, since the bugles of elections have started sounding now, the minister in question has been removed again, giving the impression that he has been removed due to the public outcry. Another powerful, though notoriously opportunistic bunch of feudal lords from the area, who until recently were part of an allied party, is being lured to strengthen the fast eroding base of the party in the area.

The socks of the proposer stink badly but it looks like the olfactory system of the PPP leadership has failed completely, where they cannot smell the foul odor of the damage caused by the proposer’s bad decisions. Or maybe the price for enduring the ordeal is too good to resist even at the cost of conscience.

The writer is an independent political commentator

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\118\story_8-11-2012_pg3_5

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