Tag Archives: define

Sindh after the ‘Love for Sindh’ rally

By Haider Nizamani

The killing of Sindhi political activists in Karachi on May 22 by masked gunmen laid bare the fault lines that may define the future political landscape of Sindh. That the violence against peaceful demonstrators was not followed by attacks on Urdu speakers in various towns of Sindh shows the perpetrators of violence are still on the fringes.

Politicians issued customary condemnations and formed committees. Some spoke of creating a new province in Sindh, while others vowed never to let that happen. It needs a deeper understanding of the issue by Sindh’s politicians and intelligentsia to tone down the rhetoric that emphasizes differences between Sindhi and Urdu speakers.

Sindh can easily do without antics such as Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statement that Nawaz Sharif is responsible for the killings carried out by trained snipers in Karachi. The allegation is a dangerous mix of political expediency, incompetence and insensitivity that neither helps us understand the dynamics of politics in Sindh nor instils confidence about the government’s ability to apprehend the real culprits behind the killings.

What happened in Karachi on May 22 indicates enduring features of the city’s politics, but this time it can have repercussions well beyond the metropolis. It was yet another proof of an increasing trend of instantaneously resorting to violence to make a political point.

The rally was called Mohabat-e-Sindh (Love for Sindh) and the participants were unarmed. The stated objective of the rally was opposing the demand for dividing Sindh on linguistic lines and expressing solidarity with the people of Lyari, Karachi’s predominantly Baloch locality. Groups that do not carry weapons are an easy target in Karachi’s violence-ridden political milieu. The message is loud and clear: get armed or get out. The space for nonviolent political expression is fast shrinking. In that way, the attacks on late Benazir Bhutto’s rally in October 2007 and the violence against the supporters of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on May 12, 2007 were not very different from the May 22 Napier Road incident.

The level of political mistrust between Sindhi and Urdu speaking communities is also very high. Ignoring this reality by meaningless rhetorical statements of an imagined unity will not resolve the problem. What is required is a higher degree of political acumen to bring the two communities together because their fate is conjoined whether they like it or not.

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Military monopoly challenged

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Excerpt;

Pakistan’s socio-political system has reached a critical stage where the competition or confrontation between institutions is leading to an inevitable but unexpected change. An overwhelmingly agrarian Pakistani society has evolved into a multi-layered complex body where new urban middle classes have matured enough to play a role. If the dominant institutions of the military and political elites do not rapidly adjust to the changing reality, an unprecedented and disastrous situation can develop.

Whatever way we cut it, the incidents of the last month compelled the military to come to parliament and explain itself to the legislators and the public. Despite the chiding posture of General Shuja Pasha, this was a new development. But then, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani issued a long rebuttal, a public criticism, after the 139th Corps Commander’s Conference. In this comprehensive statement, he reasserted the military’s monopoly over defining the ideology and policy of the state of Pakistan. If one dissects General Kayani’s statement, part of it is the military’s claim to define the country as an ‘Islamic’ state and other parts are operational policies as to how the country is going to be run.

What General Kayani and the army do not realise is that the military’s monopoly over the Pakistani state was the product of a set of historical factors that have substantially changed. Now, other institutions of the state are maturing to the level that a new inter-institutional balance has to evolve or the state will wither away. …

… In the last decade, the media, as an institution, was rising and having an impact on different sectors of society. The movement for the restoration of the independent judiciary also showed that a vital branch of the state was gaining enough maturity. The way the PML-N acted as an opposition party was also another sign of the strengthening of democratic forces. Despite the incompetent PPP government and its non-cooperation with the judiciary or with the genuine political opposition, it is becoming clearer that a realignment of institutional balance is underway. Therefore, the military is facing other sets of forces that are different from the 70s. In this situation, the military can unleash ruthlessness to suppress the emerging forces or concede to them as a fait accompli. Maybe the military has read the tea leaves as an ex-COAS, General Jehangir Karamat maintains, but it has yet to be seen how far the military can withdraw itself from civilian affairs.

To read complete article: Wichaar