Nations’ right to self-determination

By Manzoor Chandio

1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

MANY people wish that Pakistan’s best course for the future is democracy, provincial autonomy and control of resources by people who own them. This demand is often repeated in each seminar and conference by all and sundry.

They forget that provincial autonomy was envisaged in the Pakistan Resolution in 1940, democracy was promised by Quiad-i-Azam in 1947 and the control of resources by abolishing the Concurrent List in 1973. But this did not happen.

These concepts may have been effective immediately after the partition, but they are now nothing more than a huge drag.

Federal parties like the PPP and the PML-N may think this is still a pipe dream. Implementation of these systems now seems to be a dream gone sore.

But nationalists from smaller provinces say now this 21st century and ideas of provincial autonomy and decentralization promised in 20th century have become irrelevant.

Now there is talk that the problem of Baloch people is not provincial autonomy or share in natural resources and constitutional rights in the framework of Pakistan, but the right to self-determination and self-rule. They think ongoing struggle is liberation movement against the state slavery.

Over the years questions have been asked whether the integrity of the federation of Pakistan is in jeopardy over the growing disparity between the federating units and to what extent do the people from provinces other than Punjab have disliking for the over-centralised federal set-up.

The people of the smaller provinces are calling names for many of their woes and appalling inequalities within and between the provinces.

Ironically, there is an air of insouciance in Punjab because of its sheer size and military might.

There is a common perception in Pakistan that the country is some 200 years back of the West. In Sindh, it is believed that the province’s rural hinterland is some 50 years back of Punjab.

Both perceptions might be true in the sense that Pakistan has not yet developed as the first-class modern institutions to be included in the list of developed countries.

It still imports aeroplans, automobiles, computers and many military and non-military equipment and gadgets.

The rural hinterland of Sindh still can not produce electric fans and motors which are brought from Gujarat and Gujranwala, sport kits from Sialkot, cutlery buts from Wazirabad and fabric from Faisalabad.

Thousand of tube-wells and water pumps installed across Sindh are also brought from Punjab. The entire country depends on agricultural implements like land levelers, ploughs, thrashers made in Punjab.

Even the tractors engines are first brought to Karachi then transported to Lahore and after being assembled there marketed in the country. Many daily use things like soaps and toothpaste are produced in Punjab and marketed in Sindh.

It is a big tragedy Sindh even can not produce electric buttons which are house-made items in Punjab. With the industrialization of central Punjab, millions of the people of Punjab have changed their mode of production from agriculture to industry.

While Sindhis are still associated with the centuries old mode of production—the agriculture.

In the armed forces, Punjab has acquainted itself with the nuclear bomb making to fly F-16 and operate the most frigates. While Sindhis have still to make DIGs and IGs.

Why Punjab is 50 years ahead of Sindh? There are many theories being discussed among the new emerging educated class in Sindh.

A look at the federation’s employing intuitions shows how most of the bodies are out of bounds for people from the two provinces.

The Pakistan Army, which also enjoys considerable influence in the decision-making, has earned the preferred nomenclature in the two provinces as the Punjab Army because it does not have proportional representation from all ethnic groups.

Many eyebrows are being raised on Dr Ayesha Siddiqa’s book ‘the Military Inc.’ that how nine per cent of Pakistan’s population controls unprecedented share in the national economy.

But she did not elaborate that Sindhis and the Baloch, whose combined representation in Pakistan’s military is very low, have not stakes in the Pakistan Military Inc., the country’s biggest corporate conglomerate.

The two nations have no representation in the Frontier Works Organisation, (the largest construction company), the National Logistic Cell (the largest transport company), DHAs (one of the Pakistan’s largest land owners) and airlines, bakeries, cinemas and gas stations that had been set up by the armed forces.

Factories, industries and firms established by military subsidiaries—the Fauji Foundation, Bahria Foundation and Shaheen Foundation –virtually remain out of bounds for Sindhis and Baloch.

If we look at the Pakistan civil services, only one province rules the roost.

The Senate of Pakistan was told in 2006 that Punjab occupies 116 out of total 179 secretary-level posts in federal government departments. The NWFP stood second with 31 high-ranking officers, Sindh has 19 officers and Balochistan has the lowest representation in civil bureaucracy with only one secretary and two joint secretaries.

In Sindh police, purely a provincial subject, thousands of officials are recruited from Punjab. It is being argued that any Pakistani from any part of the country can work anywhere. If so is the argument then how many Sindhis and the Baloch had been inducted in the Punjab police? There is an army of jobless youth in the two provinces. Will the Punjab government give them jobs as a token of harmony and to prove that Punjab is also a part of Pakistan?

The Pakistan Cricket Board has yet to select any Sindhi or Baloch in the national cricket team. Isn’t there a single youth in Sindh and Balochistan who can run in the ground at the speed of ball?

The Pakistan Hockey Federation has been made an exclusive sport of youth from Punjab. There is not a single Sindhi or Baloch player in the hockey team which happens to be the national sport of the country.

At present, statistics paint a dismal picture of the representation of Sindhis and the Baloch in the Foreign Office and diplomatic machines abroad. Sindh being the province which in the past had produced great statesmen, diplomats and constitutionalists like Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Hafeez Pirzado can not have diplomats of lower grade if we do not talk about ambassadors, first secretaries and attaché.

The world has entered a paradigm in which the ideas of human capital are being given priority over all other theories. But here in this country people are still being pushed against the wall and deprived their equal rights.

Now the question is being raised: Is this country an exclusive domain of one province or one group of people in which others have no equal say?

July 28, 2008