“WE WERE THROWN TO THE WOLVES -
only to satisfy the personal ambitions of the leaders.”
Extracts from Shri Bhagwan Gidwani’s speech at the International Sindhi Sammelan held at Los Angeles, California – July 13 to 15, 2001.
Undoubtedly the most admired writers of our times, Shri Bhagwan Gidwani has been an inspirational icon for many a Sindhis. His writings have received rave reviews from across the world. And his latest speech at the 8th International Sindhi Sammelan held at Los Angeles was illustrative of the deep-rooted cultural bonds towards his community. Sindhishaan is pleased to present to you extracts from his oration
Courtesy : Mamta and Mona Bharwani
“Some 54 years back when Partition came, Sindh was burning – in soul and spirit. The Sindhi Hindus were fleeing from their ancient homeland. The Sindhi Muslims watched the spectacle – a few with indifference but many with sympathy; and there were also those Sindhi Muslims who tried to rescue Sindhi Hindus from the greed and lust of murderous non-Sindhi Muslims who came to Sindh from outside.
TODAY, again, Sindh is burning – in soul and spirit. The victim this time is the Sindhi Muslim. The world is a silent spectator of the plunder by Pakistan of Sindh’s resources so as to favour Punjab and Punjabi Muslims. In order to divert waters of Sindh to Punjab, a terrible water shortage has been created in Sindh along with conditions of near famine. What is worst is that there is a persistent effort on the part of Pakistan to engage in the destruction of the historic, national and cultural identity of Sindh.
All of us at this Sammelan are amongst those who live outside Sindh. The atrocities by Pakistan and the plight of Sindhis who remain in Sindh do not affect our daily life. Still, we need to know the condition of the once beautiful land of our ancestors that we were obliged to leave and of what is happening to Sindhis who still remain there.
As I said at an earlier Sammelan, a Sindhi in Pakistan has hardly any political or cultural rights and freedoms. His condition has now grown worse. His economic opportunities are more severely limited. He faces greater discrimination at all levels; his language, Sindhi, is under continuous suppression – and he is considered a second-class citizen. Sindh toady is like a colony under occupation of Pakistan. Pakistan does not even attempt to hide the fact that its ideology is hostile to the spiritual and secular foundation of Sindhi philosophy, which accepts the co-existence of all religions – Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists – with equal respect. In fact it is this aspect of Sindhi philosophy – of equal respect for all religion – that angers Pakistan all the more.
Now that the Taliban influence is rising rapidly in Pakistan – for Pakistan is unable to control the evil force which it had itself created and unleashed – there is growing enmity in Pakistan for the traditional Sufi values of Sindh. And you all know what the rising Taliban influence in Pakistan would eventually mean. It would mean adoption of a new interpretation of Quran and Islam, whereby anyone having Sufi philosophy, or tradition of tolerance for other faiths, would be called upon to undergo several disabilities including possibly wearing a yellow badge to distinguish him from other Muslims who are ruled by Mullahs and to be subject to contempt, ridicule, insult and deprivations of human rights.
Those of us who do not heed the lessons of history believe that the unthinkable never happens. It does happen and far more often that you think. Who would have thought 10 or 15 years, before the event, that Partition would take place or that Pakistan would be created and that Hindus would be driven out of their ancient homeland of Sindh! The partition of India and the creation and continuance of Pakistan itself were ordained neither by heavenly forces nor by a rational historical process. I have said this before and I shall say it again. The creation of Pakistan was simply the result of Indian leadership growing old and weary and worried that they will not be able to secure power for themselves in their own lifetime. Those leaders had at one time sacrificed much remaining true to Gandhian ideals, but in the end they betrayed Gandhiji, their own ideals and quickly they agreed to partition the country, so that power comes into their hands for themselves and for benefit of their own children and their dynasty. To avoid delay, these leaders even brushed aside Thar Parker and Kairpur in Sindh, which could legitimately be parts of Indian Union. Yes. We were thrown to the wolves only to satisfy the personal ambitions of the leaders.
Yes, the unthinkable happens again and again – and if you are looking only for the “Rational” process in historical events, how do you explain the holocaust of the Jews in Nazi Germany; the dismemberment of the British Empire on which the Sun never set; the sudden break-up of communism in Soviet Union; the present conditions in Palestine; the silence all the world over, on the brutalities and genocide by China in Tibet; and indeed how and why Pakistan itself was created.
The wisdom of hindsight may explain much but that is all there is to it. These and many such events were, in their time, unthinkable with no trigger of predictability. So please do not be surprised if the unthinkable happens and Sindhyat may disappear from its homeland of Sindh itself, as Pakistan continues persistently to exploit, plunder and brutalize Sindh not only for the need but also for the greed of Punjab and is keen to destroy the Sindhi cultural heritage and glorious Sufi tradition.
But then all is perhaps not lost for I do hear from Sindh and Sindhis, echoes of a Dream, even a cry – a just cry – for self-determination. I wish them well. I have not forgotten the dream of my generation to be back in Sindh, if not to reside there, at least to visit as a free individual with full rights of a citizen. And if this dream does not materialize in my life-time, so be it – let the present-day dreamer pass on, so long as the dream itself lingers for the future generations of Sindhis.
Remember, Sindh is the land where our ancestors resided, where the ancient order of Sanatanah and Sanatana Dharma was formed in 8,000 BCE leading to the formation of the roots of Hinduism. It was on the banks of our rivers of Sindh – Sindhu and Saraswati, where the Vedas were composed, where OM mantra was first uttered – and Sindh it was under whose guidance Bharat Varsha – and later Arya Varsha were formed. Nor do I forget the inspiration of Shah Bhitai, Sachal ‘Sarmast’ and Sami. We are the survivors and inheritors of that glorious heritage and tradition stretching from 8,000 BCE. And to contemplate its extinction for us is not only to rob ourselves alone, but more so, our children and their children to whom this legacy left to us by our ancestors, rightfully belongs. I would not like Sindhyat to disappear from the land of Sindh for then it would be a barren desert – lifeless and soulless, just as Pakistan would like it to be.
I have spoken so far of Sindhis who are in their homeland of Sindh. Certainly they are far more numerous than Sindhis like us who are outside Sindh. The Sindhis in Sindh have not done well financially or socially because of the hostility of Pakistani regime towards them. On the other hand, financially, socially, educationally – and in fact in every sphere and enterprise – we Sindhis outside Sindh have made tremendous progress. Yet in the midst of this prosperity and progress, we are in danger of forgetting our Sindhyat. Sindhi culture is fading away; our children will know nothing of it. Sindhi language is vanishing. Even knowledge, that Sindh was our homeland, and sustained us for centuries, will lose all its impact for our youngsters. A Sindhi, then, attached to no ancient homeland, nourished by no unique culture, served by no special language, may come to be absorbed – like aimless straws in the wind by marriage, domicile or chance – here, there, everywhere; but as a community, in time, Sindhis will have no identity, belong nowhere, have no cultural bonds, and not even memory of their roots, unless immediate corrective steps are taken.
And we must realize that Sindhyat cannot be protected by piecemeal patchwork but by clear recognition of Sindhi society as a Nation which is exactly what in fact Sindhi society is, keeping in view our most ancient civilization, our distinct heritage, our unique culture, our Sufi tradition and our age-old belief in human rights and dignity for all, everywhere. No one can deny to Sindhis this right of Nationhood. Yet this right of nationhood cannot belong to Sindhi Hindus alone who are outside Sindh but to all Sindhis wherever they are – in Sindh, India, Pakistan, USA, Canada, Europe – Sindhis anywhere and everywhere.
I do hope that all of you will agree that our ancestral land of Sindh belongs to all Sindhis to determine its future, and on your behalf, I take this opportunity to request our statesmen like Ram Jethmalani and Suresh Keswani, who are with us today at this Sammelan, to build bridges with Sindhis in Sindh and Sindhis all across the globe so that Sindh’s aspirations for Self-determination are fulfilled.”
A Brief Profile
Bhagwan S. Gidwani, born in 1923, in Karachi (Sindh), remained there until Partition merged his province with Pakistan
Bachelor of Arts and Law, with First Class First from Bombay University, Gidwani specialized in technical, economic and legal fields of Civil Aviation. He was Counsel for India at International Court of Justice at The Hague; negotiated India’s air transport agreements with foreign governments. On assignment from International Civil Aviation Organization, he wrote Guidelines for International Air Law Experts, and served as Adviser to foreign governments.
Gidwani served as Additional Director General of Tourism, and Director General of Civil Aviation in India (1973-1978), Representative of India on ICAO Council, Montreal, (1979-1981), and Director of Legal Bureau of ICAO (United Nations), Montreal (1981-1985).
Gidwani is the author of the historical best seller, THE SWORD OF TIPU SULTAN, which is translated in various languages, reprinted in 44 editions, and has sold upwards of two hundred thousand copies.
Gidwani wrote the script and screenplay, for the TV serial, “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”, in 52 episodes in 1990, which has been repeatedly telecast in India for several years. The TV serial was telecast also in UK, Europe and West Asia.
Gidwani also wrote a highly poetic book, OMAR & I – a rejoinder to Omar Khayyam which discovers fresh and vibrant insights in Khayyam’s poetry and mysticism.
For 18 years, Gidwani was engaged in research for his book, “Return of the Aryans”, which is unparalleled in its scope, reach and span. It explains how Aryans spread out from India to countries in Europe and Asia; their adventures & exploits; battles & bloodshed; their victories & triumphs; and finally, why they returned, back to their home-town and heritage of India.
Gidwani was declared as no. 2 Top-Winner among the Best Indian Novelist of the last Millennium, in a poll recently organized by Meghdutam in collaboration with Indian newspapers.
Based in Montreal, Canada, Gidwani concentrates on historical writing and research.