The crisis of Mohajir identity

By Harris Khalique

EXCERPT:

A large part of Mohajirs from western India who live in urban Sindh had nothing to do with Delhi or UP. They spoke Memoni, Kathiawari, Malabari, Kokni and Katchi to name a few. Even many from Indian Punjab, Haryana and Kashmir who are settled in Karachi and vote for the MQM are not strictly Urdu-speaking if the term means identifying one’s mother tongue. Besides, those who have come from Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are all bracketed among the Urdu-speaking.

One may argue that now these communities settled in urban Sindh speak Urdu as their first language or even as their mother tongue. But if we take this as a rule, almost all of middle-class Punjabis across Punjab and Islamabad, and increasingly many among middle class Sindhis, Seraikis and Hindko-speakers and particularly those coming from mixed parentage including Pakhtuns and Baloch, speak Urdu as their first language of communication. Hence, using the term Urdu-speaking for a particular political community may well be seen as a respectful term for them but does not do justice to the language which is shared by a larger number of people and serves as the lingua franca.

Therefore, those settled in Sindh whose forebears had come from India can at best claim to have a political identity. That too is based only on their shared economic interest and fundamental rights due to living in a largely but not entirely contiguous geographical area within the province of Sindh.

The claim to an ethno-linguistic identity is farfetched. Asking for the division of the province is unjustified and wrong. The crisis of Mohajir identity can only end when those living in Sindh begin to believe in their Sindhi identity. Language/languages is not the only identity marker.

If Gujaratis and Tharis, and the Dhatki, Balochi, Brahvi and Seraiki speaking population that are settled in rural Sindh can all become a part of the larger Sindhi identity, those speaking Urdu and other languages as their mother tongues and living in urban centres of Sindh can also assimilate, politically first and culturally over generations. However, the enlightened Sindhi middle class also has to play a proactive role in making this happen.

Read more » ThE NEWS
See more » https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/148363-The-crisis-of-Mohajir-identity

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