Are the PPP and MQM playing the ethnic card?

September 29, 2018

Are the PPP and MQM intentionally playing the ethnic card? ‘Agenda 360’ hosts Haider Waheed and Abdul Moiz Jafferii explored this in their show.

The anchorpersons were referring to Thursday’s spat in the Sindh Assembly between lawmakers of the former allies.

MQM’s Muhammad Hussain had said that the PPP was responsible for the disintegration of Pakistan, the 1981 hijacking of a PIA aircraft and the 1990 Pacca Qilla operation in Hyderabad.

In response, PPP’s Sohail Anwar Siyal opened up old wounds. He said Sindh gave Mohajirs “grain” and land when they migrated after Partition.

“They are fanning racism by saying that they are raising the people of Sindh,” he said. “It’s we who gave them land and accommodation in our houses after Partition.”

Siyal also hit out at the London-based MQM founder Altaf Hussain. “The absconder, the traitor of the country had made a speech in India that the creation of Pakistan was a big blunder.”

Lawmakers from the opposition condemned the remarks as “racist”.

“Although Muhammad Hussain’s statement was provocative, it was in a regional context. Unfortunately, the reply by Anwar Siyal was regional as well as ethnic,” said Waheed.

“Hussain meant to say that urban Sindh’s electorate is rearing the rural population by paying more taxes,” he explained. “It was politically a wrong statement and not worth mentioning since it increases the old regional divide,” he said.

Siyal opened up the old wounds of Partition, Waheed said. “It further enhances the ethnic division. He should not have said this.”

He went on to say that Siyal was partly right in saying that the Urdu-speaking migrants should call themselves Sindhi.

“I think he was right to say that anyone who is born in Sindh is a Sindhi. They should call themselves Urdu-speaking Sindhi or Punjabi-speaking Sindhi,” Waheed said.

“This is an oversimplification,” Jafferii disagreed. “Those who arrived in Pakistan’s Punjab from Indian Punjab had no ethnic or cultural differences. They assimilate in the first and then second generation, whereas migrants in Sindh identify themselves as ‘Mohajir’ instead of ‘Sindhi’,” he said.

“They think they are not getting better jobs, education and other government benefits in Sindh,” Jafferii explained.

If that is the case, they should demand the rights being a Sindhi, rather than calling themselves ‘mohajir’, Waheed argued.

“They have tried this in the past by changing the party’s name from Mohajir Qaumi Movement to Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a few years after Afaq Ahmed parted ways with Altaf Hussain. But this strategy did not work,” Jafferii justified.