On the heal of recent rush of killings of Sindhi nationalist leaders comes the news of mysterious death of Bashir Khan Qureshi. He was the chief of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) founded by SaeeN G. M. Syed, the legendary father of modern Sindhi nationalism. This alarming situation is either going scare many non-political Sindhis away from nationalism or embolden many non-political Sindhis to join the Sindhi nationalist movement.
Many recent press statements mentioned score of Sindhi nationalist leaders having been killed allegedly by security forces. These statements say that in 2011 alone such killings included that of Zulfiqar Kolachi, Aijaz Solangi, Sirai Qurban Khuhawr, Roplo Choliani, Nadir Bugti, Noorullah Tunio, Haji Abubakar, and Abdul Ganai Mirbahar.
Born on August 10, 1957, Bashir Khan was short of his 57th birthday, when he suddenly died of cardiac arrest. Apparently, he was in good health and many suspect a foul play in his sudden death. Just two weeks ago, he held a very successful rally on March 23, 2012 in Karachi. The rally was called as “Freedom Rally”. Many of the JSQM supporters that their party was gaining unprecedented popularity in Sindh and was becoming a formidable political force in Sindhi areas of Karachi.
Mr. Qureshi entered politics during his student days when in 1976; he joined Jeay Sindh Students Federation. He loved talking about the political philosophy of G. M. Syed and articulated the vision of G. M. Syed about independent Sindh in a forceful manner. He was elected to many positions within the Jeay Sindh Students Federation and became its President. In 1995, he was elected as Deputy Organizer of the newly formed Sindh Quami Mahaz and became its chairman in 1998.
Mr. Qureshi was imprisoned many times during his student life and as a leader of JSQM. He was in prison or held by security forces in various locations for almost seven (7) years of his life. His leadership and his hard work in awakening Sindhis in the aftermath of the tragedy commonly known as the “Thori Phattak incident” is greatly admired in Sindh. The “Thori Phattak incident happened on August 17, 1984 when Pakistani security forces fired indiscriminately killing five activists of the Jeay Sindh Students Federation. Since that incident, Sindhi nationalists have considerably increased their mobilization and organizational activities. He authored a book titled “Jaagya Junge Jawaan” in Sindhi language, published in 1989 which is collection of various speeches delivered by him. Mr. Bashir was awarded “G. M. Syed National Award” in the year 1997. He had earned respect and trust of many diverse groups and he earned much praise for his mediation efforts to resolve inter-tribal feuds that had taken many lives in some areas of Sindh. Several attempts were made on his life. In one of those incidents, a close friend of him was killed.
Until now, Sindhi nationalist movement had only appealed to students and lower middle class Sindhis, who have witnessed or felt themselves the discrimination and pilferage of the Sindh’s resources by non-Sindhis. The upper middle class, rich, and poor masses have largely stayed away from Sindhi nationalism. The massive poor class is kept constantly busy for earning enough to be able to afford day-to-day expenditures or surviving from natural and man-made calamities. Their destiny and every day life is substantially controlled by rich and upper class Sindhis, who are predominantly focused on massing personal wealth and pay only lip service to the rights of Sindhis and fighting to put a stop to exploitation of Sindhis.
However, the failure of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to deliver on their promises to the poor and lower middle class in Sindh is showing signs of awakening and realization that no one will solve their problems without their own vigorous participation. The recent well-attended marches and rallies organized by various Sindhi nationalist party demonstrate the changing political plateau in Sindh. The odds are quite favorable that mysterious death of nationalist leader such as Mr. Bashir Khan Qureshi and bullet-ridden bodies of other Sindhi nationalists have angered people sufficiently to overcome their fears and fight for their rights.