by: Khalid Hashmani
WASHINGTON DC, July 19, 2008 — A group of several Washingtonian Sindhis meet Mr. Fazullah Qureshi, former federal secretary for planning and development and well-known Sindhi economist at a local restaurant for a luncheon meeting. Mr. Qureshi is on a private visit of the United States. The group included Mr. Aleem Brohi, Mr. Khalid Hashmani, Mr. Ali Nawaz Memon, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad Memon, Ms. Deeba Rabb, and Mr. Iqbal Tareen.
The discussion session lasted almost four hours and covered many topics surrounding the current situation in Pakistan, particularly in the province of Sindh and future predicaments. The following key points were made at the session:
1. One of the key problems that prevent much progress in Sindh and Pakistan is lack of good governance. The Sindhi civil society groups should continue their pressure on two governments demanding competence, honesty, diligence and hard work from politicians, government officials and private sector managers.
2. For the almost four decades now, Sindhis have overwhelmingly voted for Bhuttos and PPP. However, except during the leadership of Z. A. Bhutto, PPP has not treated all native Sindhis on the basis of merit and talent. Predominantly, the connections and party loyalties have played a role securing jobs and fair treatment. For PPP to truly improve lives of Sindhis, merit and talent should be the top criteria in giving jobs and other opportunities.
3. Rooting out corruption has to be one of the key goals of good governance as 80% of budget is stolen.
4. Native Sindhis must be prepared to talk to MQM and other leaders of Mohajir community. Sindh will remain bogged down with internal strife without solutions that address major concerns of all communities living in Sindh.
5. The interests of native Sindhis are adversely impacted by the fact that they have many leaders and many political parties. This allows their adversaries to divided them and exploit them. There is a small “wadera” in each us that encourages splitting to create individual spheres of influence instead of pursuing collective goals coherently.
6. The education standard and competency levels are falling throughout Pakistan, For example in a recent CSS examination there were 250 seats but only 150 candidates qualified in the examination.
7. Sindhis must not be naive to think that by simply demanding fair treatment, they will start receiving justice and fairness. The Bengalis did not get it until they were forced to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of their lives. Sindhis have to become steadfast, strong, and vocal in demanding of their rights.
8. It is not only in Sindh but common person in every province of Pakistan is frustrated due to rising prices and worsening economic conditions. It is not going to be easy for any government to resolve these issues quickly and painlessly. Only the “good governance” holds key for addressing critical issues of Sindh and Pakistan in the long term.