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Shedding Mohajir Mindset

If the Urdu-speaking people of Karachi were ethnic-minded, they would not have waited decades to form the erstwhile Mohajir Qaumi Movement in 1984.

By S.R.H. Hashmi | January 2022

Pakistan came into being as a result of the two-nation theory. The theory implied that Hindus and Muslims were two distinct nations, with their own separate religion, culture and tradition, and thus deserved their own separate countries. This made possible carving out a state named Pakistan, in Muslim-majority areas of undivided India. By implication, it also meant that Pakistan was to belong equally to all Muslims, irrespective of whether they were long-time residents of the territory or moved there subsequently. It also guaranteed non-Muslims equal rights.

However, after the creation of Pakistan, the two-nation theory became redundant, with son-of-the-soil emerging as the dominant factor. It was because of the fact that Urdu-speaking Muslims migrating to Pakistan from other territories of undivided India were somewhat looked down upon, especially in West Punjab, where they were given various names, the politest of which were Mohajirs, panahgeers and Hindustani. One snag was that Muslim migrants from East Punjab were also not really sons-of-the-soil. However, because of commonality of language, they were embraced as ‘honorary sons-of-the-soil’. In other provinces of Pakistan, this ‘son-of-the-soil’ sentiment emerged much later and remained mild, except for the dwellers of urban Sindh, . One reason for this was that being much smaller in numbers, of necessity, the Urdu-speaking people adapted in other provinces but in urban Sindh, being the dominant majority, they felt differently.

As things stand, the most dominant group in the federal government comprises people from the Punjab province, because its population exceeds that of all other provinces combined, thus justifiably enjoying a strong presence also in the armed forces, the police and civilian bureaucracy. Moreover, provincial autonomy under the 18th Amendment provides fair degree of control to provincial governments, though its delegation further down to really benefit the masses - as provided in the Constitution - remains questionable.

While tracing the early history of Pakistan, we may note that our founding leaders did not get sufficient time to put into practice what they had envisaged with regards to placing the country firmly on democratic foundations. Struggling with an already failing health, Quaid-e-Azam survived only until September 11, 1948. On October 16, 1951, PM Liaquat Ali Khan was killed by an assassin, who was somehow allowed to come quite near to the podium despite various intelligence reports against him. Moreover, the Police officer on duty shot the assassin dead. Surprisingly or maybe unsurprisingly, the real conspirators remained unidentified officially.

Thereafter, Khawaja Nazimuddin stepped down from his position of Governor General to serve as prime minister. However, Ghulam Mohammed, succeeding Khawaja Nazimuddin as Governor General, dismissed his government on April 17, 1953. The unconstitutional move cleared the decks for the lot of overambitious, narrow-minded, visionless, inept and corrupt opportunists - with some or all these attributes - to take turns to misrule the country, which process continues till this day.

Even Ghulam Mohammed (1951 to 1955) got replaced by Major General Iskander Mirza who served from 1955 to 1958, as Governor General/ President, being himself ousted through a military coup by Commander-in-Chief General Ayub Khan in October, 1958. Gen. Ayub Khan remained in power for over a decade, until March 25, 1969 when General Yahya Khan, the Commander-in-Chief, forced him to resign, grabbing power himself.

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