The interview of Ayaz Latif Palejo available at ZEM-TV is quite interesting and worth listening in terms of content, articulation by Ayaz Latif Palejo, aggressiveness of interviewer and reaction of audience.
In my view, Ayaz Latif Palejo is one of the most able Sindhi leaders unmatched by any with an astute presence of mind and the ability to articulate very difficult points with ease and in an extremely audience-friendly manner. He explains very well the ill effects of discriminatory and black SPLGA, particularly SPLGA’s current aim at dividing Sindh and dividing Pakistan in the long term. Although, I do not agree with Ayaz’s assertion that SPLGA is part of grand scheme put-together by Western powers to create a separate country consisting of Karachi, Gawadar, and other areas of Baluchistan out of present-day Pakistan. How would Baloch nationalists and MQM-wallas are going to eat from the same plate is mind boggling! I believe there is not a single Baluch leader or common man who would opt for an arrangement that make Baluch to jump from Punjabi frying pan into the MQM fire. The cruelties the Baluch are suffering now would be a chicken feed when they have to deal with MQM having seen the brutality of MQM-wallas on Baloch-Sindhi areas of Karachi. However, his explanation that argues that SPLGA creates two different systems in Sindh just appease MQM is quite convincing. He makes an excellent case that the SPLGA is a discriminatory law comparable to South Africa’s apartheid regulations. He says how come Karachi mayor will have control over fisheries around Karachi’s shoreline but not the mayor of Thatto? He correctly argues that no mayor in the world has such insane powers and mind-boggling unaccountability as allowed in the SPLGA. Elected only by few Union Council members (in case of Karachi about 40-50), removing a mayor from office is more difficult than any other office including that of the President, Chief of Joint Staff, and Prime Minister of Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. On top of of this SPLGA imposes a draconian provision that in the event that an impeachment proceeding against a mayor fails, the union council member who introduces the impeachment motion will have to resign from his/her seat. There is no where in the world where such an undemocratic law exists. He also makes a clear case that PPP’s only manifesto is to prolong its rule. They would barter away any right of Sindhi people only if they can extend their rule for three more days – these three days would mean millions of more being transferred to Lisbon and other cities of Europe.
The interviewer of the discussion was extremely aggressive, often engaging in pressing Ayaz Latif Palijo and insisting on getting the answer he wanted from Ayaz Latif Palejo. I must compliment Ayaz Latif for not loosing his cool and while smiling and telling the interviewer again and again as to why he insists on receiving a reply that he likes. Nevertheless, in the end, one could see from the face of the interviewer that although he failed to ruffle Ayaz Latif Palejo, he had an expression on his face that showed that the interviewer felt that Ayaz’s arguments were rational and would resonate with all people except the die-hard MQM-wallas and their most ardent PPP supporters.
The reaction of audience when Ayaz made points was the most surprising aspect of this interview. I was pleasantly surprised to see majority of audience rooting for Ayaz Latif. They showed their support for annulment of SPLGA with each point Ayaz made. They laughed rousingly as Ayaz would joke about the foolishness of the arguments of the proponents of SPLGA.
Indeed, I would recommend that it would be worthwhile to invest 30 minutes of your valuable time to listen to crisp and crystal clear explanation of the arguments that SPLGA is indeed a black and apartheid law, only worthy of dust bin to which it rightfully belongs. Indeed, only the narrow-minded and shallow minds can conceive such a badly written law that violates many democratic norms, without any adequate checks and balances, and discrimination unseen thus far in Pakistan.
About the writer – Mr. Khalid Hashmani is a Washington DC-based veteran human rights activist. He is the founding President of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) and Chief coordinator of Sindhi Excellence Team (SET) that participates in advocacy activities on behalf of the people of Sindh.