January 30, 2017

Sindh

STATISTICS

Population: 45 million, mainly Sindhis
Areas: 88513.92 km2
Capital: Karachi – since 1947 (previously Hyderabad & Thatta)
Language: Sindhi, official language of Sindh
Religion: Islam (80%), Hindhu (15%)

UNPO REPRESENTATION: World Sindhi Congress

 

OVERVIEW

Located on the northern shore of the Arabian Sea, girdling the fertile lower reaches of the Indus River over almost 150,000 km² and bordering the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Balochistan to the north and the west and the Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat to the east and southeast, Sindh forms Pakistan’s southeasternmost province with a population of over 72 million.

 

UNPO MEMBER PERSPECTIVE

The World Sindhi Congress (WSC) is committed to bringing to the world's attention the persecuted status of Sindhis in Pakistan and the Sindhi people’s struggle for human rights, including the right to self-determination.

WSC adheres to the principles of nonviolence, democracy, separation of state and religion and nuclear disarmament. Being based in the UK, USA, Canada and Sindh, the UNPO member brings together Sindhis of all religious and geographical backgrounds, supporting in a proactive and progressive movement the fight for human rights and opposing environmental atrocities along the Indus River.

WSC believes that societal stability and sustainability can be established in Sindh only with the help of an empowered and resilient civil society which is based on equality for women and allows for the free expression of the Sindhi culture and language.

 

HISTORY

The region received its name, Sindh, from the River Sindhu (Indus). The people living in the area are referred to as Sindhi. Dating back to the ancient Indus River civilisations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, this major river has been the lifeline of the Sindhi people, each year carrying with its floods from the Himalayan mountains rich sediments to its densely populated valley.

The Sindhi nation in its thousands of years of history has come under attack and, for periods, remained under control of outside forces and rulers, such as Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Mughals, Afghans, the British, and now, Punjabis. These invasions were mainly motivated by a desire to gain control of the abundant resources of Sindh. However, Sindhis were able to regain their independence from colonial rulers time and again and have, consequently, remained an independent nation for a significant majority of the last 5,000 years.

In 711 AD Sindh was invaded by Arab conquerors who imposed their religious values on the local – mainly Buddhist and Hindu – population. Under British rule, from 1843 to 1947, Sindh eventually was granted provincial status in 1936, which allowed its people to pursue their secular, pluralist and democratic world view. Today, Sindhi Sufism, Hinduism and Christianity make up the greater part of an even broader mix of religions, whose adherents are living together in mutual respect.

Sindh joined Pakistan under the understanding of the 1940 Resolution of the All-India Muslim League, recognising Sindh as an autonomous and sovereign entity. However, since its inception, Pakistan has relegated Sindh to a colonial status, in defiance of the Resolution’s promise. With its inclusion in Pakistan, Sindhis have been systematically oppressed, suffered an exodus of Sindhi Hindus and marginalisation of their culture, language and heritage. Over the last five decades, the Sindhi people have, nonetheless, never ceased the righteous struggle to regain their human rights, including the right to self-determination.

 

CURRENT ISSUES

The people of Sindh have recently been hard hit by widespread and severe human rights violations – in particular enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings – perpetrated by Pakistani security forces. Additionally, the inhabitants of the Indus River valley are being threatened in their livelihoods by man-made changes in weather patterns, which have already resulted in a decrease of water flow by 90% compared to the 1970s, while the ecologically indispensable mangrove forests in the river's estuary have shrunk to one fifth of their original size, as the result of rising sea levels, which even threaten to inundate the province's capital city of Karachi by 2060.

To cap it all, the once thriving economic and cultural powerhouse has been degraded to a rural and energy producing existence. As a result, its people are experiencing unprecedented poverty, featuring Pakistan’s highest rate of food insecurity in 2016 with 75% of Sindhi people living below the poverty line although the province accounts for 70% of the country’s productivity. What is more, Sindh is experiencing the fallout of closer Pakistan-China economic ties. With no consultation of local stakeholders, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) arranges for ten highly polluting coal power projects to be built in Sindh. Activists who speak out against these grievances are often forcibly disappeared or are sentenced to long prison terms.

 

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