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Freedom March for Sindh

JSQM’s ‘Azadi Rally’ demands pre-1843 independence for Sindh

Courtesy: The News, Sunday, November 08, 2009

By Urooj Zia, Karachi, Sindh

Rights for the people of Sindh, and the re-establishment of the pre-1843 status of the province were the main demands of the “Azadi Rally” organised on Saturday by the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) Basheer Qureshi group. At least 200,000 people — mostly young men from rural Sindh — participated in the march, and managed to block major roads and thoroughfares in the city.

“Sindh collects Rs1,200 billion as tax; it is responsible for 70 per cent of Pakistan’s total oil production, and 65 per cent of its total gas production every year,” Qureshi said, adding that despite this, the resources of Sindh were not controlled by the residents of this province.

Speakers at the rally demanded that the independent pre-1843 status of the province be reinstated, while the participants of the march chanted anti-Pakistan slogans.

Before 1843, Sindh had, as a sovereign state, signed a treaty with the British Raj, allowing the latter’s ships to pass through the Indus River. The Raj, in return, had to pay a tax to the government of Sindh. The Indus River had thus served as an important route for the British in their war in Afghanistan.

At the time, geographically, the sovereign state of Sindh was larger than the current province. Apart from the current territory, it also included Multan (currently in Punjab), Jaisalmir (India), and Lasbella and Sibi (currently in Balochistan). “Now, however, when we demand the reinstatement of pre-1843 Sindh, we are not talking about geographical boundaries. We want a sovereign state of Sindh,” JSQM leaders told The News.

Some participants of the march also said that while the concluding speeches were being made, streetlights in the area were suddenly switched off “exactly like October 18 [2007], right before the Karsaz bomb blasts.”

No untoward incidents were reported on Saturday, however, and the rally concluded peacefully.

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