Washington Sindhi Sham with Jami Chandio and Sardar Shah
by Khalid Hashmani, McLean, Virginia, USA
Once again, Sindhis of Washington DC were fortunate to spend a delicious evening with two visitors of Sindh. The gracious host of the evening was Iqbal Tareen and the two the visitors included a well-known writer and political thinker Jamie Chandio and inspiring poet Sardar Shah. The popularity of the event could be gauged by the fact several people came to meet Jami and Sardar in spite of the fact that Tuesday (July 13) was not only a week day but the rain and lightening made driving conditions rather harsh. One could see that Jamie had made many friends in Washington DC since last year he lived here for several months doing research and analysis sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
One Sindh and Two Perspectives
As usual the Sindhi katchahery (heart-to-heart chit-chat) moved from one topic to another. The optimism of Jami that Sindhis were gaining ground in every city and town surprised many. He stated that the use of Sindhi language and pride in Sindhi culture was on upswing. He said even though the present government has yet to deliver on its promises to Sindhis, the discriminatory policies of Musharraf had ended. This was rather a surprise to some including me as our observations were that there was a immense shortage of Sindhi-medium schools in large cities of Sindh such as Karachi, Hyderabad, and even in Larkano. The fast take over by private school systems such Citizen Foundation of education has made Urdu and English as primary medium-of-instruction in large cities and towns of Sindh while leaving the Sindhi language on backbenches. Another topic of discussion centered on contributions and political mistakes of G. M. Syed and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The contribution of G. M. Syed through his writings primarily through his books had played a major role in the awakening of Sindhis to realize that they were a distinct nation were lauded at the gathering. His political mistakes, particularly the warmth he showed to the dictator General Zia ul Haq and formation of MQM was criticized. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was remembered as some one who inspired and awakened common Sindhi and Pakistani men and women to become conscious of their potential. But, then he was also criticized for not accepting Awami League’s majority in elections that ultimately led to the separation of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
He made us feel poverty and sorrows of Sindhis
However, the epic poem by Sardar Shah that he wrote about the simplicities and complexities of Sindh after some one had asked him where he had come from became the highlight of the evening. Sardar literally took us through the valleys, hills, and deserts of Sindh; he introduced us to poets, writers, farmers, waderas, students and small shopkeepers of the home-land; he made us walk through rain, sunshine, floods, droughts, and disappearing mangroves of Indus delta; he made us feel the poverty, sorrows and exploitation of Sindhis; and finally took us to the journey of determination, inspiration, and hopes of his people.
Indeed, it was an evening of Sindhiat that kept me awake long after we left the katchahery and said good by to our Sindhi visitors.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, July 18, 2010.