Khalique Junejo’s letter to Dawn in response to Dawn editorial “IDPs in Sindh”
This is with reference to your editorial “IDPs in Sindh” dated: May 24th, 2009 wehrein some points are not presented in proper perspective while others need some clarification.
There is a big difference between the stance and attitude of MQM and Sindhi People regarding the issue of so called IDPs. Sindhis are not opposed to their entry and settlement in Sindh because of their being ethic Pakhtoons or because they are coming from some specific places like Malakand and/or FATA as is the case with MQM. Sindhis are against the influx, into Sindh, of people belonging to any ethnicity and coming from any place, either from another province or another country as Sindh is already over-saturated and over-stretched.
You say that “if IDPs are fleeing their homes, they have no choice as their land is now a theater of war. Yes, they have no choice but to flee. But is their no choice and chance for them to settle in a place along the 2000 k.m. route they traverse to reach Karachi and Hyderabad? In between come the places of Pakhtoonkhuwa, the capital Islamabad and the big brother Punjab. If the only justification is that they have their relatives in Sindh, it proves the point of the Sindhi nationalists; those who came yesterday make ground for more to come today and the ones coming today will create reason for many more to come tomorrow.
There is a talk of international law. International law is that the refugees or displaced persons have to go back and re-settle in their ‘homes’. If the intention is to follow this rule, then there IDPs should be kept as nearer to their homes as possible. Their settlement in far away areas like Karachi strengthens the apprehension that they will not return.
Also there is mention of humanitarian aspect of the matter. No denial, but the question here is; why the sufferings, as human-beings, of Sindhi people are not considered who have been praying the price for displaying human concern, sympathy, tenderness and hospitality since 1947 in the shape of un-employment, ethnic strife and sectarian discord, terrorism, cultural and social problems and most of all the threat of being converted into minority on their own soil.
Again why is it that whenever the issue of distribution of resources and taxes comes up, everyone comes forward crying and asking for greater share on the basis of different criteria including population but when the question of bearing burden and receiving responsibilities arises, only Sindh is remembered and reminded of its responsibilities in the name of peace, country and humanity. Does it mean that ‘others’ are less peace-loving, lesser patriotic and short on human consideration?
Recently the world witnessed a huge humanitarian problem reaching the heights of a catastrophe when Israel unleashed a full fledged war against the unarmed and innocent people of Gaza converting the hapless area into a living hell. Hundreds of thousands of the ‘fleeing’ Gazans converged at the border with Egypt. Israel was bombarding on their backs mercilessly while the wretched men, women and children were crying to crossover. But the neighbouring country with same religion (Islam) and same ethnicity (Arab) did not allow the displaced persons to come to their side. Here one can say that Egypt and Gaza (Palestine) are two different countries while Sindhis and pakhtoons are living in the same country. But then, as is accepted, Sindhis joined Pakistan with their own free will and were not conquered. This leads to a logical question; Is this the price/prize for Sindhi People for making the decision of opting to join Pakistan?
You have said that “Fears that the displaced people will not return home are unfounded”. But the ground realities point to the opposite direction. The people who came earlier from different parts of Pakistan and the world on the humanitarian grounds are not only staying here permanently but they have organized themselves on ethnic lines such as Punjabis, Pakhtoons and Bengalis. So it is these ‘outsiders’ who are fanning ethnicity and not the Sindhis. But alas! their acts of ethnicity, animosity and hatred are hardly highlighted.
Again you have bracketed Sindhi nationalists with MQM while referring to the ‘refugees’ problem of 1947 which is not just. Sindhis not only welcomed the IDPs of 1947 but continued to ‘host’ the people from within the borders of Pakistan and from across the borders. The ‘reward’ they received is that the big cities of Sindh are being made ‘no-go areas’ for them. Should not this make a sufficient cause for concern and a ground for rejecting more influx? However, your argument for MQM to oppose the IDPs carries weight. Not only they were provided sanctuary in Sindh in 1947 but they, in turn, are continuing to provide sanctuary to the people coming from outside the country. Hence their case for opposing the internally displaced persons stands on a weak ground.
Dawn editorial can be found at;