ANALYSIS: Sindh — fox guarding the henhouse — By Mohammad Ali Mahar

Sindhis overwhelmingly voted for the PPP, mainly due to the fear that supporting smaller groups would be tantamount to bringing their oppressor, namely the MQM, back to power

The English language expression of a fox guarding a henhouse could not have been better illustrated than through the Liyari operation and the incidents of May 22 in Karachi.

Throughout the 65 years of the country’s existence, Sindh has suffered incessantly but never as severely and as brutally as during the last four years of the government elected chiefly through the Sindhi vote. Granted, there have been times of suppression and repression during successive military regimes, latest of which being General Musharraf’s misrule. However, the military regimes cannot be blamed as much — for theirs was a clear-cut and naked repression and not disguised in the garb of democracy — as is the case this time around.

Sometimes, the Sindhi feels that he is being punished by the divine power for bringing into power a gang of men and women well known for their misdeeds than any good they may have done in their lives. That there was no other choice for Sindhis at that time is something completely overlooked by the chastising powers.

Sindhis overwhelmingly voted for the PPP, mainly due to the fear that supporting smaller groups would, they thought, be tantamount to bringing their oppressor, namely the MQM, back to power. Having endured long years of repression at the hands of the MQM and Musharraf’s marionettes in Sindh during his quasi-military rule and losing their beloved leader, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Sindhis thought that the return of the PPP to power would mean an end to their suffering. What they did not know at that time and have learned the hard way is that by voting the PPP to power, they got exactly what they wanted to avoid in the first place. The situation as it is right now is such that half of Sindh is being governed by the MQM and the other half by someone named Owais Tappi — nobody knows who exactly this gentleman is. There being many stories surrounding Mr Tappi’s persona and his alleged mysterious relationship to Mr Zardari.

Then there is a third force — the Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Running the internal affairs of Sindh from the Centre through such a man of questionable credentials as Malik is the biggest insult to the Sindhi voter’s trust. That a man the former Home Minister of Sindh, Zulfiqar Mirza, publicly accused of facilitating and abetting the criminals belonging to the MQM, remains responsible for the affairs of Sindh, raises a number of questions regarding the party leadership, especially Mr Zardari’s sincerity regarding maintenance of peace in Sindh and his lack of sensitivity to Sindhi sentiment. Why, when other ministers keep changing on trivial excuses, the demand to remove Malik from the affairs of Sindh falls on deaf ears despite the colossal damage he has done to the party in Sindh? An example has been made of Babar Awan, who at times proved to be more loyal to the king than the king himself, but fell from grace when he refused to testify in favour of Mr. Gilani. Why then a person who, a PPP jiyala asks, caused the death of tens of people in Liyari and wiped the PPP from the walls and streets of its strongest fort as well as hearts of its inhabitants, is still there?

It is said that the leadership of the ruling party has business interests to share with Malik and therefore they cannot afford to alienate him, but can he not be given some other, maybe a better job to do, and leave Sindh alone? Why do the boundaries of his ministry end at Sindh and not include Punjab, where he belongs and where life is tougher for the PPP supporters than elsewhere in the country? Why is he protecting a particular linguistic terrorist group, when even the security agencies acknowledge the party’s foreign connection? The bigger question is who/what is the power behind Malik and the MQM seeing to it that they continue to do whatever they are doing with impunity? Do they really share the same paymaster, as it is widely perceived?

As though his actions are not deadly enough for the party, the wounds that Malik inflicts through his insensible remarks — an example being his statements at the time of the Liyari operation and the incident of May 22 — have ensured that Mr Zardari’s party is going to have a hard time in the next elections, at least in Sindh.

From the Liyari operation and the incident of May 22, 2012, when naked terrorism was let loose on the peaceful rally of the unarmed sons and daughters of the soil, one thing has emerged clearly that the PPP has lost all hopes of winning the next elections, especially in Sindh. It looks like all they want is to complete this term at any cost, even at the cost of Sindhi lives.

Unleashing Malik on Sindh brings to one’s mind another English proverb of letting the bull in the china shop. All that the Bhuttos built painfully over the years, Malik has destroyed in four years and made sure that when the next elections come, the PPP is seen nowhere in the province.

The operation in Liyari, from where Mr Zardari harboured hopes to have his son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, contest the election, has failed with the obvious result of routing of the PPP from the area; sentiment in the rest of Sindh being no different.

The writer is an independent political analyst based in the USA

Courtesy: Daily Times

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201265\story_5-6-2012_pg3_4

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