Fearing the incoming IDPs from North Waziristan will jeopardise the fragile demographic balance of Sindh, a group of Sindhi nationalists, writers, poets and intellectuals have joined hands to protest their arrival.
The Sindh Bachayo Committee (SBC), an alliance of Sindh Nationalist Parties who have gained the support of writers and poets as well, has decided to carry out a wheel-jam strike across the province on July 22, announced the SBC during a press conference on Saturday at Hyder Manzil, the residence of the pioneer of the Sindhi nationalist movement, GM Syed.
"We heartedly support the operation against terrorism and extremism and express our profound sympathies with the IDPs," said SBC convenor Jalal Mehmood Shah at the press conference. "But, at the same time, we have serious concerns over the sheer mismanagement of war victims."
Shah was joined by Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz's Dr Niaz Kalani, Awami Jamhoori Party's Karam Hussain Wasan and several writers and intellectual, such as Jami Chandio, Prof Mushtaq Mirani, Inam Shaikh, Zulfiqar Halepto and Noor Muhammad Memon.
The alliance has also written letters to the prime minister, the Sindh Assembly lawmakers and the country director of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to complain about the 'alarming influx' of the IDPs in Sindh, which according to them will jeopardise the fragile demographic balance of Sindh.
Shah pointed out that around 400,000 people from Swat migrated to Sindh in the 2009 operation and at least half of them never went back. "Under the garb of IDPs, terrorists created their safe heavens and have now become a major reason behind the unprecedented wave of terrorist acts in Sindh, particularly in Karachi," said Shah, adding that the people of Sindh fear the IDPs from North Waziristan will also settle permanently in Sindh.
"There are reports that a large number of children coming from North Waziristan are affected by the polio virus and there is a chance it will spread in Karachi and other districts of the province," feared Dr Niaz Kalani. The IDPs should be settled in K-P so they are also saved from the financial, physical and mental hardships of travelling this far, he added.
The nationalists called upon the federal and provincial governments, political parties and the civil society to review Article 15 and 23 of the Constitution and permanently ban the migration of 'outsiders' to Sindh.
Sindh has been accommodating migrants throughout centuries and they later assimilated with the natives. But now the situation has changed, said Shah, adding that the recent waves of migration have deprived the indigenous people of their jobs, land and other resources. "The federal government will be solely responsible if any wrongdoing happens," warned Karam Hussain Wasan. "It is constitutionally bound to repatriate the IDPs of the Swat operation and the IDPs of the Waziristan operation and restrict them to adjacent areas of Bannu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan."
Letter to UNHCR
In a letter written to the country director of (UNHCR), Shah quoted international protocols for IDPs. "The IDPs ought to be settled [in areas] nearest to their hometowns, therefore, we demand these people be accommodated in nearby towns, such as Bannu, Tank and DI Khan," he said.
Successive governments have shown complicity or wilful negligence towards the waves of influxes into Sindh which have drastically vitiated the political atmosphere of the province, the letter said. "We apprehend that, with the given vast space for immigration, the demographic balance would go against the original and bona fide people of Sindh, the Sindhis, and they will irreversibly lose their historically recognised right to rule, to the outsiders and aliens."
If terrorism is exported to Sindh, it will destabilise the entire region, it added.
In the letter addressed to the Sindh Assembly officials, the SBC convener demanded the provincial body to convene a session on this issue. "Being parliamentarians, you should play your due role and adopt a resolution against the influx of the IDPs," he demanded. "Otherwise, you will have to pay for criminal negligence and the future generation will hold you responsible for it," the letter said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.