KARACHI: Supporters and activists of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) converged at MA Jinnah Road in Karachi for the Freedom March on Sunday. The party managed to attract a respectable crowd, despite the recent killings of two of its leaders and the threats of possible attacks at the rally.
"Is it a sin to love your motherland? Have we ever adopted the path of violence?" questioned the party's chairperson Sunan Qureshi while addressing the rally. He alleged that his uncle, Maqsood, and another party leader, Wadho, were killed by 'hidden hands'.
Speaking about the province's natural resources and its share in the country's revenue, Sunan said that despite contributing 82 per cent of the country's natural gas, 69 per cent of its petrol and 80 per cent of the total budget, children were dying in Tharparkar due to starvation. He said that 6.1 million children in Sindh were out of schools. "About 28 per cent people of the total population of Sindh have hepatitis and because of contaminated water and food shortage, the average life expectancy in Sindh is just 43 years," he claimed.
Sunan also alleged that Sindh's water is being stolen, saying that the continuous arrival of outsiders in Sindh had created an alarming situation.
"We consider Urdu-speaking people as permanent residents of Sindh. We accept you [Urdu-speaking] as our brothers," he announced, amid of slogans of Jeay Sindh. "But don't take Sindh as a policy. Sindh is our motherland and we won't accept its division at any cost." The youngest leader of any Sindhi nationalist party, Sunan addressed the huge crowd in front of Rimpa Plaza. Leaders of different nationalist parties attended the march, including Riaz Chandio, Khaliq Junejo, Zain Shah, Ameer Bhanbhro and Dodo Mehri.
Sunan said that religious harmony existed in Sindh before the partition of the sub-continent and that religious hatred was now being instigated deliberately.
The funerals of the party's leaders, Maqsood and Wadho, who were killed on Friday, were also performed after Sunan's address. Their bodies were later taken to Ratodero, where both will be buried today (Monday).
The area from Tibet Centre to Numaish Chowrangi was cordoned off and all roads were blocked with containers. Participants from different parts of the city joined the main rally which started from Qureshi's residence in Gulshan-e-Hadeed.
"Both our leaders were shot dead and their bodies were set ablaze," said party vice-chairperson Dr Niaz Kalani. "We will register an FIR after the burial rites," he confirmed to The Express Tribune.
Sagar Hanif Burdi, one of the party's leaders, confirmed that Waseem Akhtar and Ashfaque Mangi of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had also joined them for the rally.
"The Sindh government has not contacted us yet," he revealed, saying that only statements have been issued.
This was the second such rally on March 23 by the JSQM - the first was led by Sunan's deceased father, Bashir Khan Qureshi, in 2012. Bashir died under mysterious circumstances soon after the rally on April 7.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2014.
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