Jeay Sindh Tehreek’s million march failed in its first attempt to seek independence for Sindh. After large turnouts at the rallies organised by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, it was the first such event arranged by a Sindhi nationalist party.
The JST leaders had claimed to gather around a million people for the march which was held to demand an independent Sindh. But hardly 3,000 to 4,000 people attended the rally which emerged from Numaish and culminated at Tibet Centre on Sunday afternoon. They were holding placards with words “Sindhu Desh” written on them.
A large number of young men with automatic weapons were seen guarding the rally. Wearing Sindhi caps and ajraks, they were deployed on rooftops of the buildings at MA Jinnah Road.
Children, wearing cultural dresses, were seen dancing and clapping to folk music in front of the march.
While addressing the rally, JST leaders announced to boycott the upcoming elections and carry out a referendum for independent Sindh instead.
“Sindh cannot prosper unless it seeks complete independence from the occupation of Punjab,” said Dr Safdar Sarki, the president of the party. He used to be the general secretary of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz before launching the JST.
“We announce a boycott of the next general elections and are preparing the people for freedom. The entire Sindhi nation says loudly and clearly that they want freedom.” He also appealed to the international community and people all over the world to support our genuine struggle for ending the yoke of slavery.
The self-proclaimed freedom fighter continued and said that it was the day of deliverance for the oppressed Sindhis who had been braving the brutal rule of Punjab for the last 64 years. But now those days were limited.
Sarki also described the formation of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) as Punjab’s doing. According to him MQM had been created to keep Sindh from gaining independence. The MQM plays to the tunes of its master [Punjab] by using peaceful Urdu-speaking people and the Sindhis for its interests. “Today Punjab and its cronies [the MQM] are also in deep crises,” he said. “The future of Urdu-speaking does not lie with the MQM.”
He reminded the people of plight of Biharis in Bangladesh who had fought against the indigenous Bangla people and were still living in camps. “If you consider this land as your mother, we will consider you as our real brothers,” he told the Urdu-speaking people.
Dr Sarki further said that the centuries-old Sindhi language was protected under the United Nation charters but it was forced out of cities, schools, colleges and universities. He alleged that every Pakistani regime had ridiculed the Sindhi language, culture and history and treated the sons of soil as third-class citizens who had no rights at all.
He gave the example of the judiciary, civil bureaucracy and military establishment, where according to him, Sindhis were being victimised. From a peon to a prime minster and president, they were all targets of the worst kind of racism by the state. “Even the cap-wearing president was not spared.”
Sarki said that even in our own state [Sindh] the judiciary was devoid of Sindhi judges. “All the levers of power are in the hands of Punjab and all of Sindh’s resources have been placed at Islamabad’s disposal.”
He was critical of the Pakistan Peoples Party and said that its leadership and the president had power, but not authority. Hence, they couldn’t come to Sindh’s rescue.
No leader from any other nationalist party was present at the rally. Among others who addressed the people included JST’s vice president, Habib Jatoi, Zafar Ahmed Korejo and Nisar Ahmed Lakhir.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2012.