‘Sindhi writers support nationalists over IDPs issueÂ’
By Jan Khaskheli
Karachi: All Sindhi writers support the recent move launched by nationalists against the arrival of Internally Displaced persons (IDPs) in Sindh, Sindhi Language Authority Secretary Taj Joyo, who is also a famous poet, has announced.
Meanwhile, Pakistani writers, especially those associated with major languages, are still divided over the humanitarian issue of IDPs and have been unable to take a unanimous decision in this regard.
A 12-member delegation of writers representing the Punjabi, Seraiki, Pushto and Balochi languages are visiting Sindh these days for an award-distribution ceremony organised by the Sindh Culture and Tourism Department in Karachi. The event, however, was postponed by the minister at the last moment after receiving news of the killing of three Sindh Tarraqi Pasand Party (STPP) activists in a rally against the arrival of IDPs in the city suburbs.
Sindhi writers, backed by Seraiki writers, advised the host – the provincial culture minister – to postpone the event, despite the fact that all the guests were seated and the winners were waiting to receive the awards announced for them.
The visit was part of the inter-provincial interaction of writers who represent different languages. It had been arranged by the state-run Pakistan Academy of Letters. The visiting writers include Dr Saleem Akhtar, Dr Rasheed Amjad, Ahsan Akbar, Dr Shaheen Mufti, and Kazi Javed representing Punjabi, Dr Tahiur Taunsvi representing Seraiki, Salim Raz (Pushto), and Zafar Ali Zafar (Balochi). Zafar turned down a presidential award to protest the military operation in his province, which he referred to as the “genocide of the Baloch”.
In similar events organised by Sindhi language and literary institutions, guest writers were silent over the IDPs issue. They received gifts – Ajraks and books – but not a single person dared to advise the organisers to pass any resolution in favour of or against the arrival of the IDPs given the sensitivity of the issue. In stark contrast, Sindhi writers were found emotionally charged against the influx of the population from the restive NWFP. They even went so far as to condemn the Punjab government and the federal government.
The guest writers visited places of historical and tourist interest of Sindh, especially the dried up River Indus, witnessed the effects of water scarcity on the tail-end communities of districts Thatta and Badin, and were briefed on the stand of Sindh over these core issues and their understanding with Sindhi nationalists.
Pushto writer Salim Raz said that when they reached the Sujawal Bridge and saw the dry bed of the River Indus, he realised why Sindhis were against the federal government. Without naming the Punjab civil and military bureaucracy, he said that the situation of all small provinces was the same – all of them were being deprived of their rights and natural resources by “certain quarters”. He said that the the NWFP did not have feudal lords like in Sindh and Punjab did, but they had the Taliban destroying schools and and life. He accused the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government of “promoting religious extremism,” which, he said, may eventually grip entire country. He said that the Pakhtoons had always opposed the military operation but at present, they are supporting the move because the future of an entire generation was at stake given the rising extremism.
Raz emphasised the need for writers to play the same role that they did in 1936, when they formed the progressive writers body — Tarraqi Passand Musanfeen – to fight extremism. “We should also come forward to show unity and oppose national chauvinism,” Raz said.
Seraiki writer Taunsvi expressed solidarity with Sindhi writers and opposed the arrival of IDPs in Sindh. He also complained that his language was being ignored at the national level.
Punjabi writers, however, complained that the situation and deprivation was the same in their cases too. For instance, they said that even 60 years after independence, Punjab Legislative Assembly members were not allowed to raise a point in their mother tongue at the provincial forum. It was decided only recently that to allow members to speak in their mother tongue, Punjabi. They also demanded the recognition of the status of these languages, claiming that this decision would in no way harm Urdu.
Source: The News