Causes of Ethnic Divide in Sindh Versus Punjab

Causes of Ethnic Divide in Sindh Versus Punjab – Solution is assimilation so that you become part of the majority rather than a minority pressure group – Published on CHOWK /Politics, by Shahzad Kazi, August 09, 2011.

A big difference between migration to Sindh versus Punjab is that, most who migrated to Punjab were from East Punjab and the few who were not had to integrate by learning the language. Second and third generation immigrants to Punjab now call themselves Punjabi. On the other hand the vast majority of migrants to Sindh were Urdu speaking from different parts of India and they primarily settled in big cities like Karachi and Hyderabad. 

There was some migration to other towns but not in large numbers. Since the Federal government was based out of the capital, Karachi and Urdu was made the national language, therefore Mohajirs did not find the need to learn Sindhi. On the other hand, the locals were forced to learn Urdu to facilitate communication and to work for the federal government.

The Evacuee Property Trust was set up and an immigrant from India was made the administrator of this trust. The function of this trust was to take over the property left behind by Hindus and allocate it to Mohajirs based on claims supported by two witnesses. It was pretty easy for individuals to find two witnesses in support of their claim. Another important factor was that this trust also managed agricultural land. A lot of the land titles held by Hindu traders belonged to Muslim farmers and were being held by the traders as collateral to loans taken out by the farmers. This land also ended up in the trust and was subsequently allotted to immigrants.

On the other hand the land revenue rules in Punjab require residency in the tehsil for a period of two to three years before an individual was allowed to own agricultural land there. Due to the difference in rules agricultural property owned by Hindus in Punjab reverted to the government of Punjab rather than the evacuee property trust. This encouraged Mohajirs to move to Sindh and file claims on agricultural land.

Post partition most of the residential property in Karachi (except Defence Housing Society) was allocated at low prices to Mohajirs. Examples are PECHS (federal government employees in Karachi, Liaqatabad, Sharafabad, Bahadurabad, Mohammed Ali society, Nazimabad, Delhi Muslim society, Kokan Society, Azizabad, etc.
These factors caused a sense of deprivation amongst the Sindhis who were living in Karachi and other parts of the province since generations. The issue was not just a question of economics, but was also a question of lost identity with immigrants taking over important positions, imposing their language and culture and also looking down at the locals with disdain. Other migrants to Sindh for example Punjabis, Balauchis and Pathans had assimilated by speaking the language and calling themselves Sindhis.

Over time as the capital was shifted to Islamabad, there was greater access to government jobs for Punjabis and Pathans and the Mohajirs felt deprived, even though an immigrant minority was controlling most of the key state functions and this could not last. Furthermore, with a military government this dominance of Punjab and NWFP was further strengthened. This feeling of deprivation was also prevalent amongst the Bengalis, but at least they had some control over their own province.

In 1970 when a democratic government was elected, a voice was also given to Sindhis and Balauchis in the corridors of power. Due to this increase in influence some Sindhis and Balauchis were also inducted into the federal government.

All these changes further eroded the Mohajirs control and power base. The biggest land allotment in Karachi was made primarily to Punjabis and Pathans via the creation of the Defence Housing Society … (full text).

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