Siyal refuses to retract ‘anti-Muhajir’ statement

Says his words were misconstrued; that he was speaking about perpetrators of Baldia fire incident


Our Correspondent September 29, 2018
Sohail Anwar Siyal. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: Former home minister and Pakistan Peoples Party's member of Sindh Assembly, Sohail Anwar Siyal has said that he stands by his statement given on the Assembly floor. The lawmaker added that his statement, which has stirred quite a storm on social media, was not against any Urdu-speaking person, but against the mindset that called the creation of Pakistan a mistake during a visit to India.

His clarification came in response to opposition's demands for him to withdraw his statement because he had 'humiliated' the assembly.

On Thursday, while delivering a speech during the budget session, Siyal had said that Sindh gave Mohajirs "grain" and shelter when they migrated after Partition. The remarks were in retaliation to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) MPA Muhammad Hussain's accusations that the PPP was responsible for the disintegration of Pakistan.

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Speaking to media before the Sindh Assembly session on Friday, Siyal clarified that his statement was against the perpetrators of tragedies such as the May 12 carnage and the Baldia factory fire tragedy. He claimed that he was himself a Muhajir and could not even think of saying anything against Muhajirs.

The former home minister said that he belonged to a democratic party and his paternal aunt was an Urdu-speaking woman. "There is a large population of Urdu-speaking residents in my village, Faridabad," he said, adding to his defence that his words were misconstrued.

"Urdu-speaking people and Sindhis are brothers. We are not against those who immigrated. My family too migrated from Punjab," he claimed.

Reaction

MQM-P's Khawaja Izharul Hassan said that the person who was deprived of a ministry in the Sindh Assembly had vented his anger on Muhajirs to prove his loyalty. He demanded clarification from the PPP regarding their lawmaker's statement and attitude.

Speaking to the media before the Sindh Assembly session on Friday, he accused Siyal of resorting to poisonous statements against the Muhajir nation. He termed it a conspiracy, not just against the Muhajir community, but also against Sindhis.

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Earlier on Wednesday night, MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar addressed a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, where he expressed the regret that Siyal's statement was an insult to Pakistan as well as the Urdu-speaking community.

He warned if Siyal didn't take back his words, the MQM-P would launch a protest campaign throughout the province. "It is now the PPP that is dividing Sindh and we will have to initiate a movement for a separate province in southern Sindh."

Meanwhile, the PPP's own leaders distanced themselves from Siyal's statement. Sindh local bodies minister, Saeed Ghani, took to Twitter to denounce the statement. "I don't agree what Sohail Siyal said in Assembly but also listen what Muhammad Husain of MQM said about people living in interior is Sindh," he tweeted.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2018.

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