By Khalid Hashmani
Washington, D. C. — A Sindhi delegation held two separate meetings with US officials on Thursday, July 22, 2010,in Washington DC. The delegation was led by Dr. Magsi, Chairman of Sindh Taraqi Pasand party (STP), and included Mr. Zulfiqar Halepoto (Senior Policy Advisor to one of the largest Sindhi NGO “Thardeep”), and Mr. Khalid Hashmani (Coordinator of Washington DC-based Sindhi Excellence Team).
In the morning, the Sindhi delegation met senior officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The USAID delegation consisted of Mr. Tom Garwin (Senior Advisor for Impact Planning) http://www.usaid. gov/press/ releases/ 2010/pr100311. html, Suzanne Olds (former Chief of Parties (CoP) of ESRA , who will oversee some of the critical USAID educational programs in Pakistan), and Mr. Joseph Truong (Outreach and Public Information Officer for Pakistan and Afghanistan) . The USAID officials briefed Sindhi delegates on the overall goals of USAID programs, particularly the 500-million dollar program that was announced two days ago in Pakistan by the Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. The Sindhi delegation shared their view of the effectiveness or deficiencies of various USAID programs and emphasized the importance of the grass-root consultation. The delegation also talked about the inappropriateness of programs that will be or are delivered through non-Sindhi Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and expressed their concerns about educational assistance channeled through any non-Sindi private organizations and foundations. They emphasized the necessity of an effective monitoring and accountability program to ensure that no funds are wasted through corruption by Government officials. The Sindhi delegation provided examples, where schools run by private organizations (such as The Citizens Foundation) have proven to be a great threat to Sindhi language and culture. These private schools discourage students from learning Sindhi language and strongly encourage learning of Urdu and English. Sindhi students and their parents complain that these schools ask students and parents not to speak in Sindhi with each other and communicate only in the Urdu language in order to improve their Urdu accent. Dr. Magsi invited USAID officials to visit Sindh and he will personally organize their trip to several rural communities of Sindh so that they can see how the people living in those areas are being exploited by both the government, local landlords and out-of-province organizations.
In the afternoon, the Sindhi delegation met Mr. Timothy Lenderking (Director, Office of Pakistan Affairs) of the U.S. State Department. Mr. Lenderking was assisted by Dr Haroon Ullah (a Cross-cultural negotiation expert and a Fulbright scholar at Kennedy School of Government). Dr. Magsi explained that the reasons Sindh joined Pakistan was the clearly understood notion that the provinces in Pakistan will be sovereign and autonomous. After Pakistan was created, the ruling establishment that primarily consist of Punjab-based military and civilian leaders and Urdu speaking bureaucrats, through manipulation and treachery, have resisted the demand that Pakistan’s constitution be written on the basis of the 1940 resolution which encapsulates the original Vision of Pakistan. Dr. Magsi said that the Sindhis are being squeezed on North by Punjab and by MQM in South. MQM uses guns and arms to hold the capital city of Sindh Karachi as their hostage. By blackmailing the federal and provincial governments, MQM has succeeded in receiving far more funding for their constituency at the cost of vast majority of other people in Sindh. The US officials questioned as why Sindhis felt that the U.S. was giving a preferential treatment to MQM. The delegates gave examples of how senior US officials who when visiting Sindh, mainly confine their meetings with the MQM officials and largely ignore Sindhi government and non-government leaders. The delegation said the victory against terrorism and intolerance can only be won iwith cooperation of the sufi people of Sindh who abhor fundamentalism and stand for equal respect of all religions in Pakistan. On the topic of the 18th amendment, the Sindhi delegate said that most of the changes in the 18th amendment are rather cosmetic and deal mainly with power division between President and Prime Minister. The Sindhi delegation expressed the view that abolition of concurrent lists will largely remain on paper just like many other laws in Pakistan. In reality Pakistan will remain over centralized as it is now with continued exploitation of Sindhis and Baloch from Punjab and MQM. The delegate asked how would one expect the 18th amendment to be fair and address the real issues of real people, when no woman or a minority member was selected to be on the constitution amendment commission, except one alternate woman member? The delegate said that two essential steps needed to counter fundamentalism is change the name of the country from Islamic Republic of Pakistan to People’s Republic of Pakistan, and to establish an American-styled Senate with equal representation from each province with similar legislative jurisdiction as enjoyed by the American Senate.
July 24, 2010