Sindhi writers and intellectuals are of the view that even 44 years after the abolition of the ‘One-Unit’ system, its shadow haunts Pakistan as all rights and resources of smaller provinces are still snatched by the federal government.
“Pakistan is a multicultural country, which has been converted into a highly centralised authoritarian state. It is time to devolve powers to give autonomy to the provinces as enshrined in the Pakistan Resolution passed in 1940,” said Muslim Shamim, the president of the Anjuman Taraqqi Pasand Musanifeen. He was speaking at the launch of renowned Sindhi writer Professor Aijaz Qureshi’s book, titled ‘One-Unit and Sindh’, at the Arts Council of Pakistan on Saturday.
The event, organised by the Sindh Graduates Association, was attended by Sindhi and Urdu progressive writers, who were part of the campaign run against ‘One-Unit’ between 1955 and 1970.
It was the time when Sindh and other smaller provinces were dissolved and merged into what was then known as West Pakistan, converting the whole country into one province. “It gave birth to a number of miseries. All powers were centralised, which triggered a massive campaign, especially in Sindh, till General Yahya Khan came along and dismembered the concept,” said Shamim. Professor Qureshi has written his own account as a member of the campaign. He said, “The history of Sindh has not been documented. In the book, I have tried to depict how Sindh suffered and the socio-economic condition of the province at that time.” He added that the book also covers the struggle of politicians, writers, poets, students and other civil society activists after Sindh was put under the control of West Pakistan. He claimed that billions of rupees are allocated by the Sindh government to various sectors, but its institutions have failed to conduct and document research on the ‘immediate’ history of the province.
Khadim Soomro, author of a whopping 10 books on the politics and history of Sindh, said that Pakistan Peoples Party, including its founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, joined an ‘anti-One-Unit’ movement. Bhutto later, however, disassociated himself from the campaign when he was appointed as minister in Iskander Ali Mirza’s cabinet in the late 1950s.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2014.