Quota System – Tool of Divide and Rule Sindh

I am still unable to get rid of the terrible images of two incidents of my early life which I have been carrying in my mind for the last 40 years even living abroad since the last 25 years.
One is when I finished my higher school certificate (year 12). This was 1974; the government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was trying to use every possible tool to maintain control of the remaining Pakistan after split in December, 1971. Remember, Pakistan was split, East Pakistan became Bangladesh in result of Bhutto’s denial to sit on the opposition benches and accept the victory of Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman whose Awami League won majority seats in the general election of 1970-71. In order to maintain the support of the majority in Sindh, the PPP government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Sindh used divide and rule policy. Their target was to win the hearts and minds of Sindhi Speaking people on the cost of creating differences between Sindhi-Speaking and Urdu-Speaking communities. They had moved the Engineering College from Jamshoro to Nawabshah. I went to Engineering College (Nawabshah) to submit my admission form for Bachelor of Engineering. I was only 17 years old. When I was waiting in the queue few students which were not looking like students from their ages and outfits surrounded around by me and asked me, in Sindhi language, whether I am a Sindhi-Speaking or Urdu-Speaking. I replied in Sindhi (I used to speak reasonable Sindhi but not as my mother tongue) that I am an Urdu-Speaking. I felt that they were anxiously waiting for this moment; first they searched me from top to bottom, and then snatched my wallet, money and all academic transcripts including my admission form. They pounded me with punches and kicks and continuously bashing me until I managed to escape and run towards the highway. Luckily the bus going to Hyderabad stopped for a moment; I jumped into the bus and survived. My face and body were full of bruises and bloody cuts. My mother decided not to send me to Nawabshah again for my goal to do bachelor degree in Electronics. Therefore, I had to change my professional goal and took Sindh University for honours in Physics and then Master in Information Technology.

Second incident in 1985; In order to fulfill the requirements for my new IT contract in Dubai (UAE), I had to pick-up the testimonials of my Bachelor of Honours and Master degrees from the administration office of Sind University located in Sind University Jamshoro (Sindh). When I was coming back holding the original testimonials in my hands, few young men, came to me, put pistols on me and asked the same question which was time and again during my 4 years study in Sind University that is; am I Sindhi-Speaking or Urdu-Speaking?. Then they bombarded me by hitting with the grips of pistols, punches and kicks demanding to handover my testimonials to them. Eventually, I was unconscious, they torn off my degrees (testimonials), luckily they did not shoot me but left me unconscious. One of my old professors found me, he took me in his car, and then I was conscious and dropped me to the Karachi-Hyderabad bus coach on the super highway and that is how I survived again. This was not the first time, during my study in University, 1974-1978 many times I had to face threats and bashing by Sindhi-Speaking gangsters and many time, I had seen beating and bashing others. These incidents are normal in the educational institutes of interior Sindh and people studied there would vilify my story.

Today, I see many so-called leaders in Sindh like Zulfiqar Mirza, Qadir Magsi who were gangsters at that time in Universities and Professional Colleges in Sindh, hunting Urdu-Speaking for torturing them. I don’t blame these gangsters for what they did to me and others as I know the real culprits are those vaderas (feudal) and landlords who as their political leaders provide financial and political supports to these gangsters. These landlords cum politicians just want to save their sardari nizam (tribal system) by creating and maintaining hatred between the two largest sections of people in Sindh. The interest of these landlords cum politicians is totally un-identical to the interest common people of Sindh whether Sindhi-Speaking or Urdu-Speaking.

The common Sindhi-Speaking people are very generous, simple and loyal to Pakistan. They are the ones who opened doors for immigrants during the partition process in 1947. Since then Urdu-Speaking and Sindhi-Speaking have been sharing businesses, social friendships and marriages. Even my younger sister and 3 other first cousins married to Sindhi-speaking persons. They, all are living happy lives; they share and enjoy everything with our family and relatives.

The fact of the matter is that these Vaderas cum politicians are the main culprits of division between Sindhi-Speaking and Urdu-Speaking. They are corrupt and unfaithful to the rich land of Shah Latif. These vedaras (feudal) never been sincere to the interest of the people of Sindh. Even the most powerful politician and the first Sindhi Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto when came in power never looked back to the problems of the common people of Sindh. Instead, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, on the name of benefiting Sindhi-speaking introduced Quota System in the government jobs and higher education in order to rewards these jobs to their fellow vaderas cum politicians who then used them as products to buy votes from the simple Sindhi-Speaking and become law-makers of the state.

When the civil societies across the world were fighting against the biased, discriminative and racist systems, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) under the leadership of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in Pakistan and through powerful vaderas cum politicians and key players of then PPP like Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, Jam Sadiq Ali, Abdul Waheed Katpar were sowing the seeds of divisions and corruption in Sindh by launching discriminative legislations and policies in Sindh. First, in 1994, by passing a language bill from Sind Assembly declared Sindhi language as the official of Sindh despite of fact that other 3 provinces Balochistan, NWFP, and Punjab adopted Urdu as their provincial language. The bill was later reverted as a result of worst Sindhi-Muhajir ethnic clashes in Sindh. Later, PPP government introduced worst discriminative system called ‘Quota System’ in Sindh by dividing Sindh as Sindh Urban and Sind Ruler. The Urban area constituted of Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar (3 major cities of Sindh) and the rest was constituted as Sindh Ruler. An ordinary person could understand that this division was basically a division between the Urdu-Speaking and Sindhi-Speaking people of Sindh as 90 percent population of Urdu-Speaking lived in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar. Bear in mind that Urdu-Speaking came from India during/after the creation of Pakistan under a migration agreement between the governments of India and Pakistan in 1951, all the migrants under the Pakistani Citizenship Act 1951 were automatically naturalised and Pakistani citizen. Therefore, Sindhi vedaras (feudal) cum politician have no control on them economically, socially or politically. Hence these feudal realised that if they don’t isolate migrants and if these migrants and their next generation born in Sindh mixed with the Sindhi-Speaking, they will create awareness within Sindhi-Speaking people for their basic right and these feudal will lose their oppressive feudal system. Hence, these Vaderas cum politicians including the team of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wanted to push migrants and their next generation behind the wall by isolate them from government and professional jobs. So, on the name of providing opportunities to underprivileged people in the rural areas of Sindh Quota System was the beginning of division of Sindh on the basis of language otherwise the fact of the matter was the most underprivileged people were and still today are the people of Baluchistan. There are bigger rural areas in Punjab, then NWFP and Baluchistan but Quota System of rural and urban areas was only introduced in Sindh.

Ratio of more educated people and students are in the urban areas as everywhere in the world but more jobs allocated to rural areas. More seats in professional colleges and universities allocated to the rural areas of Sindh and less for urban areas which constituted Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar. Most of the rural quota basically is used by feudal-cum-politicians for their supporters and followers. At the same time, the incidents of bashing and tortures to the Urdu speaking students in the higher educational institutes in Sindh still exist. These victimizations and discriminative policies have been continuously running since the PPP first came in power and since then no any political force and the establishment could stop them. The recent incident of the bashing in front of a police officer, others and media by a provincial contender of PPP’s Waheeda Shah during a female presiding officer the vote casting in the polling station in Tando Mohammed Khan in Sindh is clearly showdown of the mentality of these feudal and how they treat people.

MQM of Altaf Hussein basically a result of discriminations and racism in Sindh. The young talented students and professional followed Altaf Hussein in early 1980s because Altaf Hussein exposed the stories of victimizations and discrimination in Sindh. However, these vedaras cum politician and their parties are so powerful that even Altaf Hussein and his party could not demolish Quota System and other discriminative practices still being in practiced in Sindh.

Now the present Government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari wants to extend this Quota System for another 20 years. At one side they claim to make Pakistan a modern state. They claim themselves as believers of democracy. They claim that they respect judiciary and so on. On the other side, they want to keep the most discriminative System that is Quota System in Sindh for another 20 years. What a shame!

Justice, merit and fairness are the first criteria for any democratic system. MQM and its leadership asserted that they will oppose the Quota System extension bill in the parliament. However, if level of opposition of Altaf Hussein and his MQM will continue in the same manner as they did on the other critical issues in recent times with the present government, no wonder why PPP can get Quota System bill passed not for 20 years but may be forever if they want to.

Can Pakistan survive with these kinds of deeds by the incapable and disloyal actors running this country?

If the present government of PPP understands that this Quota System based on Urban and Ruler division of Sindh is so good for the development of the ruler areas of the Sindh then why don’t they create new and permanent provincial borders on the basis of the same division and prove that this will even better forever for the people of rural areas. As when rural area will get a status of a separate province then they will get exclusive funds for the province with full government in power. But if they claim they don’t want to divide Sindh then they should not continue to divide Sindh on the basis of language. My personal analysis is that the prosperous future of the people of Sindh is linked with the unity and integrating of the Sindhi-Speaking and Urdu-Speaking communities. These two communities have huge talent, potential and rich culture therefore Sindh can be the most flourishing province of Pakistan but these communities have to work together to wipe-out the feudal system and their operators who are ruling the province of Sindh as political gurus.