The case of Sindh in the context of Global Peace, Security and the role of Sindhi Diaspora
By Rubina Greenwood – World Sindhi Congress
May I thank the Department of Sindhi at the University of Mumbai for inviting me to this honourable gathering in Mumbai.
I am here to present the case for the right of self determination of Sindhis in Sindh in the context of world peace and security. World peace is an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and/or people. World peace is an concept of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare.
With reference to 'the rights to self-determination', some recent studies by Harvard University indicate that, from 1994 to 2004, 53 out of 57 international conflicts in 51 locations were interstate conflicts, with almost half initiated by self-determination movements.
The number of conflicts, motivated by self-determination movements, faced by the international community is increasing year on year because:
i) there is no international law that guides external actor response to self determination movements beyond the scope of decolonization;
ii) the international community's devotion to legal structures prevents any deviation from the norms of supporting larger traditional forms of state; and
iii) most conflict between citizens and state is caused by identity issues and demands for autonomy from the state, or multiple states when identities are transnational.
Despite all the conflicts in the world, and no matter which part of the world we come from, we are all human beings; we all seek happiness and try to avoid suffering. Our needs are common, as are our concerns over freedom and self actualization. We all have desires and crave the right to determine our own destinies as individuals and as nations. However, change is happening many nations who were suppressed by dominant forces are now independent nations such as Eastern Europe.
Many of the problems we face in today's world, such as violent conflicts, destruction of the natural environment, poverty and hunger, are created by humankind and can be resolved through human effort, understanding, and development of a sense of unity. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share.
We also need to address culpable institutions, such as the military and undemocratic governments, that have become stronger day by day with capitalist objectives and use of mass terror to oppress their own, and neighbouring, people.
Global Security Issues
In recent years Pakistan has positioned itself as a key ally of the West in the 'War on Terror'; Western policy towards Afghanistan is now joined up with Pakistan and called 'Afpk policy'. I contend that western powers have been party to a comprehensive cover-up for far too long. Western governments have colluded with Pakistan to minimize Pakistan's role in active sponsorship and export of terrorism around the world. This policy has distracted the attention of the international community and of human rights groups from Pakistan's oppression of its own people.
A report in 2010 by the London School of Economics and a confidential assessment of Pakistan in the same year by the US government (as disclosed by Wikileaks) clearly demonstrates the West's ongoing support of the Pakistani establishment is highly destabilizing in terms of international security. The Rubina Greenwood World Sindhi Congress reports also confirm the complicity of the Pakistani establishment in terrorism in the South Asian region and beyond.
Since Pakistan's inception, the country has been under direct or indirect military rule; even during periods when democratically elected governments have been in place, the real power has lain with the military. Never has Pakistan established itself as a true federal and democratic state, and today's current constitution has proven completely inadequate in progressing towards that end. Pakistan's constitution has failed emphatically to safeguard the rights of the Sindhi and Baloch nations, of religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians, Ahmedis, and Shias, and of other marginalized groups (i.e. women). It has become the very instrument of hegemonic control and military domination by which the Punjab majority subjugates all other ethnic and religious minorities in a tyrannical majoritarianism.
The US and Pakistan alliance in the 'War on Terror' has resulted in increasing pressure on Sindhis and Sindh's resources; this impact has been compounded by the presence of unstable government institutions in Pakistan. This is not to forget the long list of injustices and plunders of the Pakistani Establishment against Sindhis and Sindh since the formation of Pakistan. The Pakistani Establishment constantly conspires with MQM (Mohajir Quomi Movement) to divide rural and urban areas of Sindh, to control Sindh's natural resources, and to subjugate the Sindhi nation. Some of examples of these systematic plans to control the Sindhi nation are:
Construction of mega-projects over the River Indus;
Manipulation of the demographic profile in Sindh and Balochistan to convert the indigenous populations into minorities;
Manipulation of historical nations' homelands and their boundaries;
Misappropriation of national resources, such as the theft of water, etc.; and
Abolition/discrimination of Sindhi and other national languages in favour of Urdu.
The Case of Sindh and Global Peace
Discriminatory treatment of Sindhis by the 'so-called' democratic government of Pakistan during, and after, the recent flooding in Sindh demonstrates that things can never change unless or until Sindhis have the right to decide their own destiny and to govern themselves.
Current strong federal structures leave no room for negotiating a fair sharing of power and resources; that is why Sindhis are now demanding the right of self-determination. The right of self determination was promised to all provinces in the Pakistan Resolution of 1940, and on this basis Sindh agreed to join the Federation of Pakistan.
Any country that is constantly engaged in, and sustained by, international warfare and suppression of its own people must be held accountable by the international community if the aim is to achieve world peace. The international community must provide support and a voice to represent the plight of the oppressed people of Pakistan in order to counter Pakistan's warmongering strategies at a global level. The international community must actively promote the right of self-determination of the oppress people of Pakistan.
In order to counteract religious fundamentalism in South Asia, the international community must support and promote secular and progressive forces in the region. Inherently, Sindhis are the most secular nation in current Pakistani state jurisdictions, as demonstrated by our history and the present national makeup. Our Sindhi culture, heritage and language transcends religious beliefs. Despite dedicated efforts by the Pakistani Establishment to support Wahabi groups of Saudi Arabia in Sindh, not a single parliamentary seat has been won by Wahabi groups.
Sindh has suffered more than 200 years of slavery, firstly by the British and, for the past 64 years, by Pakistani totalitarian regimes. The Pakistani State (i.e., the government, military and the ruling elite) Rubina Greenwood World Sindhi Congress is involved in many forms of violence against its own, and neighbouring, people. Today, Pakistan is a symbol of intolerance, human rights abuse, Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
From its inception, the Pakistan Establishment took a fundamentalist approach to governance through militarisation; it ignored local secular values, cultures and languages, and also introduced a conservative form of religious dominance. This dominance has been led by a regime of Jihadi Generals of the Pakistani army.
It's worth reminding ourselves the quotes of the leader of the Sindhi nation, Saeen GM Sayed, during his speech at the United Nations in Vienna, 1952. He said, “This theocratic state Pakistan will be dangerous for world peace” and called for the international community to support Sindhis' right of self-determination. Therefore, it's vital to highlight the important role that sovereignty in Sindh could play in promoting international peace, security and prosperity by neutralising the spread of religious fundamentalism and anti-democratic political forces in the region.
It is within the context of Sindhi sovereignty that I'm trying to convey this message to my Sindhi brothers and sisters around the world that the existence of Pakistan will continue to destabilise world peace. The indigenous people of Pakistan, such as Sindhis, demand their alienable right of selfdetermination and freedom to practice their liberal, secular values, cultures as a counter to religious fundamentalism in the region. It is about time that the international community addresses the demands of Sindhis and their peaceful message of secular values, traditions and cultures, which is a more effective way to defeat fundamentalism and terrorism than the militaristic approach adopted to date.
Oppressed nations of Pakistan are nowadays facing a new form of economic colonization from the Pakistan Establishment, which is supported by China. Close relations between China and the Pakistani military has resulted in the loss of strategic control by Sindhi's over their own natural resources. The message to China is simple: the Pakistan Establishment can never be trusted. It is a misconception for China to think that Beijing will be spared from the fundamentalist action, orchestrated by the Taliban and Jihadi Generals of Pakistan, that has devastated cities such as London, New York, Mumbai and Washington. This is because, in terms of Jihadi and Taliban ideologies, non-believers are more dangerous than believers.
We Sindhis around the world have to work together to bring about change to the current volatile political situation in our region. We must work towards a common goal to achieve the right of self determination of Sindhis which, in turn, will help to bring peace and prosperity in South Asia and around the world. This goal cannot be achieved without the help and support of regional powers such as India. India's support of a free Sindh is also in its own best interest in order to arrest the spread of Pakistani supported fundamentalism, which is now widespread in the border areas between the two countries.
The Role of Sindhi Diaspora to Promote Global Peace
Sindh is the Sindhi Diaspora's motherland just as much as it is for the people living in Sindh today. In the struggle for Sindhi's right of self-determination, the Sindhi Diaspora can play a integral role through promotion of our secular culture, language, and heritage and by raising awareness of the plight of Sindhis at national and international level.
Sindhis around the world can present a message of peace by creating a model for religious tolerance that embraces all religions and non-believers as one nation. Uniting the Sindhi Diaspora poses both a challenge and an opportunity to bring peace around the world. There are 7 million Sindhis living outside Sindh today, with the largest Sindhi Diaspora living in India. Most of the Sindhi Diaspora has adopted their new countries as their homelands and want to be considered as citizens of these countries as much as they want to be known Sindhis. Many are keenly interested in maintaining their Sindhi identity, i.e. language and culture, and inform their children of Sindhi values and traditions. This is known as Sindhiat.
Some members of the Sindhi Diaspora, especially recent immigrants to the West, are deeply troubled by Paksitan's miserable situation. For them, the foremost issue is economic and political survival of Sindhi people in Sindh. These two concerns, the survival of Sindhiat and the freedom and empowerment of Sindhis are both linked to the survival of Sindh as a nation or a nation state. This requires political activism in which the Sindhi language and culture can be promoted, and an environment in which Sindhi cultural products can be produced consumed unconditionally.
There are many grievances of the past which Sindhis around the world have to overcome before unity can be achieved. However, the political circumstances in Pakistan means that there is an immense urgency to secure and protect Sindhiat and Sindh. Sindhis around the world must overcome their differences with the tolerant, open and honest approach typical of our people to safeguard the future of Sindh. The Sindhi people can look to the fine examples set in South Africa and Latin America where mechanisms for reconciliation were successfully implemented to help communities overcome their differences and build cohesive nations. These communities overcame bitter historical racial and political grievances using open dialogue.
These mechanisms of reconciliation and other international political instruments could be used to resolve issues to unite Sindhis around the world. The Sindhi Diaspora has an absolute, inalienable and individual human right to return to their homeland if they so wish. This right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Within this context, there are a number of areas where the Sindhi Diaspora can work with people in Sindh at a strategic level:
Strategic Lobbying to their Respective Governments
One of the key areas where Indian and other Sindhi Diaspora could be instrumental in bringing peace internationally is undertaking strategic lobbying activities to their respective governments. This lobbying could cover diverse issues such as the promotion of tourism, free trade and other cultural and economic interactions. Also, the Sindhi Diaspora in India could lobby and use their government's growing economic and political influence to lobby her allies to:
Stop their support of Pakistani Establishment;
Stop their financial support of the Pakistani military;
Pressurize the Pakistani government to implement the guarantees enshrined in the
Constitution with regards to natural and other resources of the federal nations;
Supports a fact-finding mission to Pakistan to investigate human rights violations, with particular focus on Sindh and Balochistan;
Call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in line with Pakistan's commitments to UN Treaties addressing freedom of speech and of association;
Call on the Pakistan government to take appropriate steps to protect the life, liberty and religious freedom of its people;
Stop their financial support for 'anti-people' projects such as construction of a number of dams on the River Indus;
Stop violence against its own, and neighbouring, people;
Convince Pakistan to become a true democracy by granting all oppressed nations the right of self-determination; and
Pressurize Pakistan to abolish all laws discriminating against women and minority groups.
Strategic Economic Investments and Trade
Sindhi Diaspora leadership and collaboration is needed to promote the economic growth of Sindh through strategic economic investments and trade at numerous levels:
a) Cultural Products: this means investments, both locally and internationally, to develop Sindhi music, drama, film and literature. This will be a one of the most effective way to preserve our Sindhiat at all levels.
b) Nature Resources: Sindh is the largest producer in Pakistan of crude oil, natural gas and coal; in fact Sindh has the world's fifth largest coal reserve. Currently more than 12 multinational companies have oil exploration and refining licences. This shows great investment and trade opportunities for Sindhi Diaspora in Sindh.
c) Commerce, Infrastructure and amenities: Sindh contributes more than 63% of all federal finances but receives back only about 23.5%; it remains the largest contributor of all provinces to the Pakistan's federal income. Poverty in Sindh prevails, medical facilities are scarce and the education sector is neglected. There is niche market for affordable health care system, IT infrastructures. Sindh has access to one of the key strategic port which opens the market of Middle East and beyond. Sindh's geographical location makes it one of the most suitable areas for renewable energy generation and opportunities for green technology innovations.
Exploitation of Sindh's natural resources and wealth by the Pakistan Establishment in support with China is detrimental to Sindh and promotes fundamentalist and undemocratic forces in the region who will become richer and more powerful by violating human rights of smaller nations. Sindh's natural resources must remain under the control, and benefit, of indigenous Sindhis in a secular culture and equal economy.
The support of the Sindhi Diaspora of India is key to the future of Sindh. The identity of Sindhi Diaspora and Survival of Sindhi is interlinked. If the international community is serious about the principle of true democracy and the right of self-determination, then Sindhis and other oppressed nation of Pakistan should be granted their right of self-determination to bring peace in the region.