Sindhi nationalist leaders have reiterated their strike call for April 30 and demanded that the federal government officially annul the ongoing housing census.
They warned that if these steps were not taken, then there would be a boycott of the upcoming population census. Nationalist leaders, including Sindh Tarraqi Passand’s Dr Qadir Magsi, Sindh United Party’s Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah, Awami Tehreek’s Ayaz Palijo and others asked Sindhis to support them in their struggle.
“We appeal to all businessmen, traders, transporters, teachers, social activists, lawyers, NGOs and students in Sindh to support the strike and save Sindhis from becoming a minority in their own province,” they urged in a statement. In a press conference, the leaders said that the house count must be started anew and that teachers of the education department should do it in order to ensure transparency.
They also demanded that there should be separate registration of illegal immigrants and those who migrated to the province for financial reasons. The leaders said that 14 other political parties would support their call for a strike, including the Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami National Party, Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, with representatives of some present at the occasion.
Jalal Shah complained that proper procedures were not used when hiring census teams. Employees of the water boards, health department, Karachi Development Authority and Hyderabad Development Authority were hired to be part of census teams, which were supposed to have have teachers and workers of the revenue and local government departments. “We have handed over evidence of our claims to Sindh Census Commissioner Noor Muhammad Leghari,” he said.
Ayaz Palijo accused the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of ignoring the needs and aspirations of Sindhis in order to reaffirm their grip on power. “They have made a two-fold deal with the establishment, the MQM and PML-Q,” alleged Palijo. “The first part is to manipulate the census to show a lower population of Sindh in order to reduce the province’s share in the National Finance Commission and the second is to show Sindhis as a minority in their own province.”
The JUI’s Maulana Taj Mohammad Nahiyon rejected the second extension given for the completion of the census and announced his parties supported the strike. “Our demand is transparency,” he maintained. “We don’t trust the government’s intentions.” He appealed for the people of Sindh to unite against the injustices that they were being subjected to.
In response to a question, Dr Magsi said that the Urdu-speaking people of Sindh should write their national identity as Sindhi in the census forms for the sake of assimilation. “Sindhi-speaking people have been living in this land for thousands of years,” said Magsi. “The people who migrated recently should assimilate with the local community and embrace their language and traditions.”
The nationalists also pointed out that high-ranking government officials such as the Sindh chief minister, speaker of the provincial assembly, census commissioner among others have acknowledged errors that census officials have made by omitting areas in Karachi, Hyderabad and rural Sindh. But they have not done anything to correct these irregularities. “Even the party which claims to be Sindhi by wearing the Ajrak and Sindhi topi have never protested against the wrong doings,” they said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2011.
More in SindhNine hours of load-shedding