Swift changes in production and consumption are changing the society and politics in Sindh
By Dr Manzur Ejaz
Contrary to common belief that Sindh is a feudal-ruled primitive land, socio-economic transformation in Sindh is as fast as in Punjab. Rapid urbanization, mechanization of agricultural sector and commercialization has changed the very basis of Sindhi society. Such a transformation will have inevitable political consequences that may not be visible currently, but will materialize down the road.
The effects of this transformation are trickling down even to the common person, whether it is cellphone equipped goat herders or teens from small towns using motor vehicles. Colorful rickshaws have replaced tongas and tractors trollies have taken the place of centuries old wooden plows pulled by animals. Consumer goods have penetrated the Sindhi society deeply, uprooting and transforming the artisan classes and their skills. Consequently, the realignment of Sindhi class structure is duly underway.
Swift changes of economic production and consumption triggered mammoth urbanization from the 1980s onward. The newly urbanized masses have started playing their political roles as summed up by Zafar Junejo, chief executive officer of Thardeep – an NGO working for economic development – in an article published by Newsline.
He argues that recent protests against the new local governments system are led by these new urban masses rather than traditional nationalist groups.
Parallel to the great socio-economic transformation, Sindhi intelligentsia is cognizant of emergence of a neo-feudal class, led symbolically by Asif Ali Zardadri, Zulifqar Mirza, Pir Mazhar et al. These are people who do not come from the traditional feudal class but are rumored to have amassed huge tracts of land and industries by making money through illegal means, occupying public lands or forcing small land owners to sell their land. This is a class or type of ruling class which remains absent from their electoral constituencies and just show up at election times. They have nothing to do with the people and this is the main reason the major developmental projects are nowhere to be seen in the whole province. Hyderabad’s non existing metal roads are a manifestation of poor performance by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government in the province and the center. This may lead an ultimate downfall of the PPP in Sindh.