An approach to win equal rights for Sindhis in Pakistan

Preamble – “Leading towards Peace & Progress – Indus Peoples Forum (IPF)
Traversing through the yeras of history Sindh maintained its existence as an independent state even when invaders were ruling the large part of sub-continent. It maintained this status as recent as British Raj that merged Sindh into Bombay presidency in 1840s. Sindh played pivotal role in the struggle for Pakistan. Sindh Assembly was first in the sub-continent to adopt a resolution in favor of Pakistan in 1940. Sindhis wanted a Pakistan as envisioned in Resolution of 1940 and pinned their hopes in the new country.

However all the hopes were shattered with the passage of time. During initial years, vested interest forces took over the reins of power. Civil and military bureaucracy aligned with opportunist political forces to rule the country. These elements dominated all sorts of decision-making and alienated majority of people from the mainstream of the country. East Bengal, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) were denied of their due share in federation. Bengalis parted their way after a bloody battle in 1971, Balochis faced a series of armed operations and Pakhtuns are struggling for their historic identity and rights. Whereas Sindh has been facing ceaseless stream of tyranny and injustice.

Successive governments at federal and provincial level have plundered natural resources of Sindh, denied due share in federal and provincial jobs, finance and water and did not invest in infrastructural development of Sindh, particularly in rural areas. Such a discriminatory treatment has resulted in shamefully poor indicators of human development. The successive dictatorial regime pushed Sindhi society into the deep ditch of despair. On internal front social fabric of Sindhi society has been systematically damaged. Dacoits, corruption, tribal conflicts and unbridled crime are manifestation of evil designs to inject permanent chaos in Sindh leading to poor governance and poverty. Sindh has been made a subject of feudal lords who do not hesitate to serve ulterior motives of establishment. As a reward of such services, the power structure has been erected in society. This power structure is tyrant in nature, unjust in approach, inhuman in attitude and anti-development in orientation.Most of the senior generation of Sindhi intellectuals are in deep depression and seems to have lost all hopes from Sindhi society and most of them have become prophets of dooms day. Highly committed political workers are yearning for dedicated and competent leadership. Younger generation of intelligentsia and the juvenile middle class is struggling to respond the challenge but without any appropriate strategy and forum. There is a strong feeling that this is time for emerging middle class to provide leadership to Sindh; a leadership with a new vision that has relevance with new realities of this era. Political movements need to be reinforced through scientific research, solid argument and modern tools of communication. Also politics has to be integrated with socio-economic development to bring about fundamental changes in the society.

It is high time to establish a forum for an action research based advocacy campaign that is strategically well defined and systematically implemented for rights of Sindh. The campaign will have strategic focus and a comprehensive road map to achieve its objectives.

Who We Are?

Indus Peoples Forum (IPF) is a progressive forum dedicated to improve the lives of people of Sindh through knowledge, ideas and actions. We are creating a long-term, progressive vision for Sindh—a vision that policy makers, opinion-leaders, political workers and activists can use to build our motherland and compel policymakers to pass laws and develop policies that make a real difference in the lives of people of Sindh.

Our mission is to transform progressive ideas into policy through rapid response communications, action research, legislative action, grassroots mobilization, advocacy and partnerships with other progressive leaders throughout the country and the world.

Objectives

1. Create a critical mass in society to respond various challenges faced by Sindh and its people.

2. Undertake an advocacy campaign on rights of Sindh based on action and empirical research, logic and dialogue.

3. Produce a comprehensive Sindh case, widely circulate it and launch a drive to discuss it on various national and international forums to highlight the legitimate rights and interests of Sindh on various issues.

4. Establish a modern viable organization of Sindhi people to unite them as a vibrant society to face challenges of modern times.

5. Review government policies of various sectors and take critical account in the context of Sindh interests.

6. Strive for creating larger consensus on political rights of Sindh and act as a unifying forum to bring all political and social movements around a table.

7. Create mass awareness on economic rights, benefits of trade, industry and small businesses to mobilize people of Sindh to widen their economic base to self-employment, entrepreneurship, Industry and private sector based on modern skills and technology.

8. Develop a comprehensive case of Sindh on the issues pertaining to Sindhi society including but not restricted to Provincial Autonomy, Demography, Resource distribution, Natural resources (oil, gas, coal, minerals), Economic Development, Good Governance, Water, Environment, Social Sector (Education, Health etc), Human Rights, Women rights, Minority rights, and end Feudalism and feudal mindset.

What We Want?

IPF will launch a non-violent peaceful struggle to achieve its objectives under the framework of Pakistan. The Forum will focus on three key areas in the context of politics, social and economic rights.

A. Political

1. Pakistan needs to be made a viable state by declaring it democratic republic and extending maximum autonomy to its constituent federating units according to 1940 Lahore resolution, thereby allocating four subjects to the federation i.e. Defense, Foreign Policy, Currency, and Communication.

2. A new social contract among four federating units of Pakistan should be introduced on the basis of equal representation at all legislative, policy & decision-making institutions and other federal government bodies both armed and civilian.

3. Historic nations in provinces of the country should have right of rule in their respective provinces. Their geographic integrity, historic identity and demographic majority should be protected and constitutionally guaranteed.

4. All languages of federating units need to be recognized as national languages.

5. All natural resources should be the property of federating units and they should have exclusive right over decision making on their natural resources.

6. IPF would struggle for prior right of Sindh on Indus River in line with international laws and norms. It will oppose water sector projects (e.g. dams, canals and drains) that harm interests of Sindh and destroying natural resources and ecology of Sindh.

7. Millions of acres of productive land have been grabbed in villages and cities of Sindh in an organized manner. IPF will struggle against allocation of Sindh’s land to civilian and army bureaucracy, illegal immigrants, real estate mafia, federal government agencies and foreign companies.

8. Multi factorial Terrorism is a major threat to global and regional peace and progress. IPF would struggle against terrorism in all its forms may it be religious, sectarian ,ethnic or state terrorism. This does not exclude terrorists in the garb of political groups making people hostage and securing vote on gunpoint.

9. All policies discriminating against indigenous people, creating hurdles against their entry in educational institutes, employment and businesses in big cities of Sindh need to be abolished.

10. Minorities need to be given equal rights according to Quaid -e-Azam’s 11th August speech in first constituent assembly of Pakistan and in accordance with UN charter.

B. Social

1. Feudal mindset is the worst enemy of Sindh and one of the biggest hurdles in the development of Sindhi society. IPF would strive to eradicate this mind set.

2. Internal weaknesses of Sindhi society are one of the major retarding factors in development of Sindh. IPF believes in struggling against social evils like tribalism, honor killings, jirgas, caste based organizations, charbelli, forced marriages, kidnapping, crime and sectarian hatred.

3. Quality education and modern technology are the pillars of growth for modern societies. Sindh lags behind in these vital areas of development. IPF will struggle to promote quality education in Sindh from primary to advance levels.

4. Health is the basic human right and state is responsible to ensure that all citizens receive basic health facilities. However the state of health services is in its worst condition and citizens are deprived of basic health facilities. The Forum will struggle for health rights of citizens.

5. The current educational system and curriculum is creating a stream of distorted minds full of biases and hatred. The curriculum is alien to historical realities and cultures of nations. This curriculum and education system needs to be drastically changed and aligned with norms of human values and historical realities of the nations in the federation.

6. Dacoits, terrorists and other criminal elements under the patronization of corrupt political elite, terrorist mafias and security apparatus have made Sindhi society hostage. This unholy alliance has resulted in tribal feuds, crime and kidnapping that has paralyzed the minds of people and brought development at halt in Sindhi society. IPF will struggle against all such social evils to expose and eradicate these social evils and their hidden perpetrators and patrons.

7. Judicial system has lost its credibility and thousands of innocent people are languishing in jails and visiting courts since years. IPF will struggle for a judicial system where justice should be accessible to all citizens. The Forum will also facilitate legal assistance for deserving innocent people.

8. The forum will struggle for social restructuring of Sindh to make it a vibrant and dynamic society. It will promote attributes like hard work, discipline, tolerance and healthy competition in Sindhi society.

C. Economics

1. The Forum will encourage and facilitate people of Sindh to get involved in small business, entrepreneurship and acquiring market skills, IT and vocational education required for jobs in industry, non-formal and corporate sector.

2. IPF will work for enhancing efficiency of agriculture sector by promoting mechanization, modern technology, quality inputs, credit and research.

3. IPF would act as a watch guard, critically looking into development planning and execution of development projects in Sindh.

4. IPF will mobilize public sector and other resources to improve infrastructure in Sindh.

5. IPF would motivate local and international investors to invest in industry and associated businesses in Sindh.

6. There is a need to establish institutes for creating quality human resource specially in rural areas of Sindh. IPF will encourage and facilitate investors specially Sindhi Diaspora to invest in institutions for human resource development in rural Sindh.

7. Big cities are considered as engines of economic growth. People of rural areas would be motivated to acquire modern education and skills and will be facilitated to make their entry in corporate and industrial sector located in big cities.

C. Strategy

The IPF will adopt the following approach as working strategy
* Action Research

* Communication/Information Dissemination

* Rights based Advocacy

* Civil Society Activism and mass Mobilization

The following would be the key areas of strategic of focus

1. Position papers will be developed on the subjects mentioned under objectives. These papers will be published in Sindhi, English and Urdu languages for larger dissemination. Seminars, workshops, lectures and discussion forums will be organized at all levels on these issues in order to highlight issues and rights of Sindh. Such events will also be organized in other provinces and countries wherever possible and necessary.

2. Briefings, along with media kits, will be organized for diplomats, media and rights groups. A website would be developed to reach out to the wider audience.

3. IPF will launch a movement to mobilize political parties, civil society groups and public administration to wedge a multi-dimensional war against social evils in Sindhi Society.

4. A campaign would be launched to condemn socially retarding attitudes having roots in feudal mind set. New social trends will be introduced in Sindhi society to eliminate caste based social structures, liberating women from the chains of medieval customs, condemning exercise of illegal and unauthorized power and respecting merit in all spheres of life.

5. IPF will work with all political parties, civil society organizations of Pakistan on different issues.

6. Developing and distributing material providing historical facts on Sindhis as secular, peace loving, democratic and progressive nation would be developed and widely circulated to international community through various channels. Seminars and discussions would be arranged outside Sindh and Pakistan to highlight these bright aspects and historical strengths of Sindhi society.

Organizational Structure

A team of credible, committed and eminent personalities with proven integrity, commitment, and courage and progressive views would head IPF. Indus Peoples Forum will have three-tier organizational structure as follows:

a. Central Executive Committee (CEC)

CEC would have 15 members. CEC meetings would be convened on a bi-monthly basis to develop and revise strategies. The CEC can also meet on urgent basis on at least two days prior notice. The CEC will submit bi-annual progress report to a Central Council (CC).

b. Central Council  (CC)

The Central Council would consist of 100 members initially, including CEC members. This would be a body to form broader guidelines for CEC. The Council members would be identified and approached by the CEC after internal approval. Members would have established credibility and known commitment for rights of Sindh.

The CC will meet with regular interval to review and approve financial, administrative and policy reports/strateThe CC will have the following office bearers known for their intelligence, commitment, courage, credibility and honesty:

 

* Chairperson

* Vice Chairperson

* General Secretary

* Information Secretary

* Finance Secretary

The Secretariat would be managed by a full time Executive Director. S/hHe will be an Ex-Officio member of CEC and will report to the CEC .

c. District Council (DC)

The third tier would be introduced at later stage when deemed feasible by the CEC and CC. The DC will have representation in CC

d. General Council (GC)

The General Council will include all members of IPF. The membership would be approved by the CEC. There will be no restriction on people belonging to other organization. The Council will meet on annual basis.

October 17, 2010

 

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