The Discrimination and Denial of Fundamental Rights for the People of Sindh

Kavita Tekchandani

Pakistan was created out of the Indian partition of 1947, following two centuries of British colonial rule. Its creation was the consequence of an inability to accommodate minority interests within independent India. The Muslim minority within India feared they would become second-class citizens in a Hindu-majority state. The Muslim League, therefore, pushed to form an independent Muslim state. The partition, the arbitrary drawing of borders, resulted in eight million people, mainly Muslims migrating from India to Pakistan and millions of Sikhs and Hindus migrating from Pakistan to India making it the largest inter-state migration in history and, in the process, creating millions of refugees.

Prior to Indian Independence, and on the basis of their shared faith, the Muslim population, who would later create Pakistan, felt that they were a unified community, despite their many ethnic and linguistic differences. They conceived themselves as intrinsically different from the other religious and cultural groups on the Indian sub-continent. However, following the creation of Pakistan, the Muslim population no longer feared being discriminated against by a Hindu majority state that in turn, failed to unify the Muslim population. Though Pakistan was a state created on religious lines, a significant number of religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities were part of the composition of the country.[5]

In the creation of Pakistan, various regional minorities charged that they had been discriminated against and forced to assimilate into the central government�s notion of what constituted the national Pakistani identity.[6] Within Pakistan there exists five major regional provinces; Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, Azad Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

II. Sindh: A Nation of its Own

Sindh is Pakistan’s second largest province with approximately 24% of the nation�s population.[7] Sindhi is a term used to describe the indigenous people of Sindh, the southeast province of Pakistan. Sindhis have one of the oldest cultures and civilizations in the world. The Mohenjo-Daro civilization, dating back approximately 5,000 years, was one of the first civilizations of the world and was formed along the banks of the Indus River running through the heart of what is now known as the Sindh province. This region has historically enjoyed a great deal of autonomy, allowing for the development of its own culture. Sindhis have historically been known to promote a culture of non-violence, secularism and democracy.

During the time of the partition, there was an effort to drive out the Sindhi Hindus into India. The property left behind by the Hindus was arbitrarily distributed to political supporters of the then ruling government and Muslim refugees coming from the newly independent India, by the National Government. The influx of the Muslim refugees coming from India, known as the Muhajirs, resulted in Sindhis becoming a minority in their own land.[8] The sudden Muhajir influx and the national government’s policy of cultural assimilation has been the root causes in bringing the Sindhi culture and language to the brink of extinction. The case of the Sindhis reflects the reality that international and national laws against discrimination and genocide offer ineffective protections for minorities, unless governments take steps to also protect these minorities from mass deportation and imposition of an alien population onto their land…

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Source – http://www.scu.edu/scjil/archive/v3_TekchandaniArticle.shtml

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