A question has always come to my mind whether the displeasure of Sindh with the Federation has persistently self-perpetuating political and economic reasons or it is politically motivated bogey being skillfully crafted by the wily politicians in order to furbish their dwindling political fortunes or have crumbs of political power from the Federation. To redress this muddle, one has to delve a bit in the history of Pakistan and the administrative, political and economic arrangements put in place to build a nation out of historically, culturally, linguistically and ethnically heterogeneous political and national identities that came to constitute the territorial and geographical bounds of the new country.
We had a geographically unique country and culturally a unique nation. We had the East Bengal, effectively separated from the western part of Pakistan by 1000 miles. What formed the western part of the country were the four politically, culturally and ethnically diverse national identities known as NWFP, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. The Eastern wing, culturally, ethnically and linguistically a separate identity, was linked with the Western part in the pursuit of shared political ideals and aspirations in the humdrum of the struggle for independence both from the colonial power and the perpetual political and economic domination of the majority community in the united India. These shared political ideals and aspirations should have formed the bedrock of the Pakistani nation seeking unity in diversity, freeing the components of the federation to develop their territories, cultures and languages in accordance with their resources and traditions and, in the process, create a rainbow of Pakistani culture within legal and constitutional bounds sanctified by a democratically elected Constituent Assembly.
Unfortunately, we failed to understand the challenges inherent in the task of nation building out of the cultural and ethnic diversity. The perspective of the leadership who took over the country after independencewas at odds with the local political leadership. They came with preconceived suppositions about the lands that were giving birth to Pakistan. The new leadership fell to the temptation of the quick solution of the problems facing the Federation in nation building by force or legal and political chicanery than the long process of elections, constitution making, political and economic equity. The holding of the referendum in the NWFP; the use of brute in case of Balochistan;declaring Karachi as a federal city to the anger of Sindhi leadership; imposing the infamous scheme of One-Unit and dilly dallying in the constitution making and elections were highly unwise political and legal decisions.
Thus, Sindh has been at loggerheads with the Federation since the inception of the country. Sindh was far distant from the communal frenzy that gripped both the nations across the divide resulting in the unprecedented plunder of properties and human blood shedding particularly across the borders of Punjab. Sir Francis Mudie, the last British Governor of Sindh, sent a missive to the authorities in Delhi that there would be no shifting of population in his province. With the connivance of the new leadership, the immigrants pouring in Karachi rioted and attacked the worship places of the Hindus in the city in early 1948 creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity that triggered the exodus of Hindus. The provincial government of Ayub Khuhro was dismissed when he dared to resist the massive induction of immigrants in the Metropolis and the separation of Karachi from Sindh.
The share of Sindh in jobs in the federal ministries, corporations and auxiliary entities, gas and oil resources and federally funded development schemes has always been sidestepped or ignored
The next blow to the autonomy of Sindh was its forcible merger in the One-Unit. Though disqualified for any public office under EBDO, Ayub Khuhro was brought as the henchman of the Federation at the helm of the province tobulldozethe resolution for merger of Sindh into One-Unit. He did so earning the permanent sobriety of ‘traitor of Sindh’ for the rest of his political life. After the loss of the Easter wing, the power was transferred to Z.A. Bhutto. While the creation of Pakistan is counted as the single-handed achievement of the Sindh-born Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the building of the new Pakistan as a vibrant country owes a great deal to the heroic efforts of Z. A. Bhutto, another iconic son of Sindh. Bhutto is credited with the achievement ofthe Sindhi leaders’ consent to the Punjab demand for the division of the resources from the federal pool on the basis of population instead of the territory as was in vogue in the previous Pakistan. This is where Bhutto was duped by the Punjab dominated establishment. However, the Constitution of 1973 provided a workable mechanism for addressing the grievances of the smaller provinces.
The decisions taken in the Council of Common Interests were never followed in letter and spirit by the bigger province because of its sheer power and force in the federal bureaucracy and the security establishment. The water accords between Punjab and Sindh signed prior to the partition or later were never acted upon to guarantee the genuine share of Sindh in the Indus waters. Even the formation of IRSA and the installation of telemeters have not alleviated the situation stopping the theft of Indus waters through flood canals by the Punjab establishment. Similarly, the share of Sindh in jobs in the federal ministries, corporations and auxiliary entities, gas and oil resources and federally funded development schemes has always been sidestepped or ignored. The nationalist Sindhis protesting instances of such injustice have been facing the brunt of the coercive power of the state. The Balochs have been facing more sorrowful situation on these counts.
Either the two consecutive PPP administrations have failed to present in a convincing way the grievances of the province within the constitutional forums or the federal governments have been deliberately shirking from addressing the concerns of the province. The grievances of the second large province of the federation remained unaddressed during the federal administration of the Pakistan Muslim League (N). The differences between the Government of Sindh and the PTI regime on various issues have been more pronounced to the peril of the federal bonds in the country.