Annual Convention 2000 St. Louis, MO
Sindhi Association of North America, SANA, held its 16th annual convention in St. Louis, MO on the 4th July weekend this year. It was participated by a large number of Sindhi families and individuals from all over USA and Canada. It was a grand gala, spread over three days, filled with fun and music. Some guests from Sindh also attended the convention. They included the former Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Abdullah Shah, Eminent Scholar, Dr. Hamida Khuhro, Prominent Sindhi intellectual, poet and writer, Mr Shamsher-ul-Haidri, Qazi Fazal ul Haq and Director, Shah Latif Chair, Karachi University, Dr. Fahmida Memon.
SANA demands full rights for Sindh
Participants of the 15th Annual Convention of Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), held at San Francisco, the other day, expressed concern over, what they called worst form of colonisation imposed on Sindh by the central government of Pakistan in the name of "Governor's rule".The participants demanded of the Pakistan government to immediately stop expediencies with Sindh and its people and restore the powers of elected provincial assembly, allowing the majority party to govern. The three-day annual convention was participated by a large number of delegates from within and outside North America.
Eminent Scholar and historian Dr. Nabi Bux Baluch and top most Sindhi fiction writer Amar Jalil were the chief guests in the convention. In his keynote addresses Dr. Nabi Bux Baluch highlighted and revealed the yet unexplored areas of Sindh's history through ages.
Underlining Sama and Soomra Dynasty 'as golden eras' in the history of Sindh, Dr. Baluch stressed upon the need of re-writing the history of British colonial period with a new perspective since the history written so far, he opined, was a conqueror's viewpoint. Amar Jalil in his address feared nuclear cloud hovering on the horizon of South Asia. He said that the existing feudal structure was the main cause of Sindh's long standing backwardness and slavery.
The convention deliberated on and discussed various problems and issues concerning Sindh and its people and unanimously adopted a number of resolutions on the issues.
The participants expressed their concern over the threat of demographic insecurity faced by Sindh, as a result of persistent influx of alien immigrants, as well as people from other provinces of Pakistan into Sindh.
The participants also expressed fears that indigenous people of Sindh would lose their basic human rights including right of self-governance, income and employment opportunities, social services, natural resources, culture, language and they would be reduced to a third level citizens in case of continuous influx of alien population in Sindh.
The convention participants further observed that the influx of alien immigrants was a very serious strain on Sindh's economy and a threat to the social and political fabric of the province. The delegates, in a unanimously adopted resolution, demanded of the government that the open borders of the country should be sealed forthwith and laws of immigration implemented strictly and aliens residing in Sindh illegally should be apprehended and deported. The delegates saw the socio-political crisis in Sindh in the context of violation of Pakistan resolution by the successive rulers of the country.The convention delegates observed that after the creation of Pakistan, successive governments had been negating the terms of 1940 Resolution, as the central government has been increasingly usurping the powers of provinces. The delegates through yet another resolution demanded that the rulers should respect the document of 1940 resolution, which provided the basis for the creation of Pakistan. They should provide maximum autonomy to the federating units imbibed in the federation of Pakistan.
The same resolution also demanded that the federal government should have no authority to remove the provincial governments, or to dissolve provincial legislatures through an executive order, and in order to ensure freehand to the provinces, in their lawful spheres, all federal ministries dealing with the provincial subjects should be abolished.
SANA convention also expressed concern on the move of present government about repatriation of Biharis in Sindh. While terming the same move a conspiracy to convert Sindhis into minority in their own homeland and strengthen the hands of urban terrorist elements, the convention demanded that the moves of repatriation of Biharis, killers of 30 lakh peaceful Bengalis, on the land of Sindh, be stropped forthwith. The convention also discussed the derailing of development process in Sindh as well as the financial bankruptcy in the province. The convention observed that 1996 National Finance Commission (NFC) prepared by the then caretaker government has resulted in complete bankruptcy for the Sindh, with its overdraft mounting to over Rs 1.2 billion and unpaid liabilities of several billion more, despite the complete freeze of its development program since last two years. Therefore, the convention demanded that the non-representative and unconstitutional 1996 NFC award be replaced with a new and just representative award, which must be prepared, while keeping in view the resources being generated by the provinces.
Lack of employment opportunities for people of Sindh, dismissal of those already in government jobs by the present PML government was also discussed by the convention, which expressed concern over the reports that the trend of suicides has increased in Sindh manifolds due to growing menace of unemployment.
The convention delegates observed that the government of Nawaz Sharif, soon after coming into power, launched a move of expelling Sindhi employees/officers from their jobs. Those employees were deprived of their jobs on the mere allegations that they were appointed by the previous PPP government. The government has so far thrown out 12,000 Sindhis from their jobs. Those who were expelled from various government departments, including Oil & Gas Development Corporation (OGDC), PIA, banks, KESC, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, Pakistan Steel Mills, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSG) and other provincial as well as Federal departments. The latest on the line were 1,600 doctors, who had been expelled from their jobs after depriving them of their salaries for the last one year.
The delegates further observed that as a result of severe unemployment in Sindh, the current year alone, more than 300 Sindhi youth have committed suicide. A death of Lala Jehangir Pathan, a prominent political worker was a recent example of such tragedy. Tired of government red tape, unemployment, rampant poverty, Pathan took his life in presence of many journalists during his press conference.
The convention therefore through a resolution demanded that all the moves of expelling Sindhis from their jobs be stopped forthwith. The expelled Sindhi officers be replaced and new appointments be made in Sindh, while lifting of the so-called ban on the appointments. Continuous irrigation water shortage in Sindh and subsequent crop damages were also discussed at length by the delegates. The delegates opined that Sindh has been facing acute irrigation water shortage since last many months, which has been resulting in the damage to Kharif crops.
The participants were of the view that in fact, water to Sindh from Tarbela had been considerably reduced in violation of the water accord, secondly, Punjab has been illegally drawing water from Indus out of the share of Sindh, by operating Chashma- Jehlum and Tonsa Link canals.
According to agreement between Sindh and Punjab government, Punjab had to seek consent from Sindh Government for the flowing of irrigation water through Chashma -Jehlum and Tonsa Link canals, but the agreement was being violated. And thirdly, no water was being released to Sindh from Mangla reservoir to cover the shortage of water in Tarbela reservoir. The convention through a unanimously adopted resolution demanded of the Pakistan authorities to ensure due irrigation water share to Sindh from Indus river and stop Punjab from pilfering water share of Sindh through its link canals.
In another resolution the convention expressed concern over the apathetic attitude of Pakistan government with the cyclone hit populace of the coastal region of Sindh. The delegates expressed concern over the report that as an aftermath of the deadly cyclone, still thousands of villagers were shelter-less. Thousands of fishermen were unable to re-launch their livelihood due to unavailability of fishing boats and nets and were facing starvation. The agriculture community has no money to purchase new seeds and other agriculture outputs to re-cultivate their lands. Usage of contaminated water for drinking purpose has resulted into the out-break of a number of water-born diseases in the region. And the stagnant sea water on the fertile lands was playing havoc with the fertility and underground water aquifers. The convention demanded of state functionaries of Pakistan to launch rehabilitation plan for the affectees of cyclone, providing shelter, boats to fishermen and agriculture inputs to growers' community.
SANA convention delegates also expressed their concern over the Quit Perpetuating Academic Crisis, instead Promote Academic Security in Sindh. The delegates observed that as a result of decades of misplaced priorities, successive Pakistani governments have paid no attention to the Academic Security of the country.
Pakistan has maintained its core academic philosophy of producing Babus which is cloned after British Raj. It creates a class of privileged servants whose personal growth and professional security is contingent upon the extension of the colonial culture. It is designed to maintain lowest levels of marketable skills in targeted population groups. In order to guarantee state interference, government agencies actively create and finance higher levels of strife and political polarity in Sindh's academia.
SANA convention, therefore, demanded that the education in Sindh and Pakistan be given as much priority as the Defense. It was also demanded that teacher/parent/student bodies be formed to create and maintain academic peace in Sindh. The teacher/parent/student bodies should be given maximum attention in formulating academic & administrative policies and oversight of educational institutions.
SANA convention also strongly criticised both the Federal and Sindh governments for the arrest of numerous politicians and human rights activists in Sindh and demanded their immediate release.
Three-day SANA convention was also attended by Sindhis from outside the North America. Besides, Dodo Maheri, the central leader of Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party, journalist Hasan Mujtaba and Dr. Ali Muhammed Ansari were also the guest speakers.
Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), it may be mentioned, is a representative body of Sindhi professionals and intellectuals settled in the region. In memory of one of its founders - Dr. Feroz Ahmed, the SANA has set up a Fame Fund by giving away scholarships to students in graduate and undergraduate programs in Sindh.
By: Manzoor Shaikh
As Good as it Gets
14th annual convention of the Sindhi Association of North America was held at The Westin Hotel O’Hare airport Chicago Illinois from July 2-5, 1998.
The 1998 SANA convention was one of the most memorable conventions as it attracted so many individuals and organization with a variety of programs and missions. Indeed, it achieved one of the SANA’s important mission goals to serve as a meeting point where all Sindhis feel at ease to debate issues, exchange views and share their experiences. The multi-dimentional interactions on intellectual, literature, family, friendship and political spheres were thrilling. The diversity of ideas and themes were delightful, stimulating, challenging and inspiring.
Sindhi Association of North America held its 13th Annual Convention in Toronto, Canada. The three-day convention started on Friday, July 4th and lasted till July 6th 1997, at Best Western Carlton Place Hotel, Toronto. More than 250 delegated from various parts of North America attended the traditional Annual Convention. Some guests from Pakistan, UK, and Singapore also attended the convention. In between lunches and dinners, the three day program included speeches by the SANA EC members and overseas guests, seminars, ladies program, General Body Meeting, panel discussions, and Sindhi Sham Musical Program with Zareena Baloch.
The convention officially started on Saturday, July 5th with the opening speech by the Chairman Local Organizing Committee Mr. Khalid Hashmani. In his speech Mr. Hashmani profusely thanked the delegates for their participation and expressed his heartfelt joy in welcoming them. Mr. Mehar Hussain Shah General Secretary presented a brief report on SANA activities, on going projects, and out-reach program aimed at forming an international alliance of non-political and non-governmental Sindhi organizations.
Before his welcome address SANA President Mr. Iqbal Tareen requested the audience to rise and offer Fatiha in the memory of Dr. Feroz Ahmed. Continuing his welcome address Mr. Tareen greeted all participants of the convention including the guest speakers who traveled thousands of miles to participate in the reunion of North American Sindhis. In his speech he described 13 glorious years of SANA. He pointed out that SANA has survived many challenges and crisis. It has now reached the maturity stage. He identified Sindhi community's special interest in the welfare and historic rights of Sindhi people. He also urged that SANA leadership would have to device a balance between Sindh related issues and opportunities and concerns shared by Sindhi community here in North America. After brief speeches of EC members, the day started with intense discussions regarding the current situation in Sindh and SANA. The delegates spoke their minds; debates were candid and frank. In the evening everyone enjoyed Sindhi Sham with Zareena Baloch.
The General Body meeting was presided over by SANA President Mr. Iqbal Tareen. The delegates heard yearly reports by the Executive Council members and various committee chairpersons. Those who presented their reports were Mr. Sani Panhwar, (Vice President and Chairman Membership Committee), Mr. Mehar Hussain Shah (General Secretary and Chairman Inter-organizational Committee), Mr. Ramesh Tharwani (Joint Secretary), Mr. Ajaz Memon (Treasurer), Mr. Sohail Ansari (Information Secretary and Chairman Publication Committee), Dr. Aijaz Turk (Regional Secretary-Midwest and Chairman Finance Committee), Mr. Ayub Khaskheli (Regional Secretary- East Coast), Mr. Saeed Hafiz (Regional Secretary- South), Dr. Akhtar Hashmani (Regional Secretary- Canada), Mr. Nadeem Jamali (Kalabagh Dam Committee), and Dr. Saghir Shaikh (Chairman Education Committee).
Guest speakers included Nawab Yousif Talpur (Pakistan Peoples Party), Syed Jalal Shah (Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly), Syed Ghulam Shah (Vice Chairman Jeeay Sindh Mahaz), Qazi Shafquat Mahesar (General Secretary Pakistan Peoples Party-SB), and Dr. Nazir Mughul (Vice Chancellor Sindh University).
All leaders defined their party program and position on Sindh issues. An overall consensus was found amongst visiting guests on issues concerning law & Order situation, opposition to Kalabagh Dam project, NFC Award, Water Accord, unchecked population influx in Sindh from other provinces and countries, and strong support for a unity on common grounds in Sindh.
The visiting guests faced a barrage of very tough questions on governmental abuse of power, corruption, urban and rural terrorism and abductions, PML-MQM alliance, and an overall disappointment with politicians and political parties in Sindh. It was first of its kind session which gave both the participants and guests opportunity to raise vital issues and state party positions on these various issues and concerns.
Dr. Nazir Mughul presented the agony of educational institutions emerging out of highly charged political environment. He gave an eye-opening account of "Copy Culture", deteriorating academic standards, lack of integrity in teaching staff, growing disrespect for teachers in students and parents, total indifference of government planners, and curse of government and political parties interference.
He narrated a usual cheating incident where parents and friends of students were sitting outside examination hall, filling answer papers and smuggling them to their children. The irony was that the entire operation was being carried under the supervision of a senior police officer that was in-charge of preventing such a cheating. He pointed out that in a recent survey of Asian institutions, not single Pakistani College or a university qualified to be included in top 50 institutions.
At the conclusion of the 13th Annual Convention, the general body of Sindhi Association of North America passed the following unanimous Declaration and the Resolutions:
Gravest of all Times
Sindh is passing through the gravest times in its history. It is clear that the enemies of Sindh have joined hands against it. The current state of affairs in Sindh has shown an utter failure of public institutions. Terrorism and lawlessness has reached its highest level. Murders, kidnappings, abductions, highway robberies, and car thefts have become order of the day. The government and the political parties have miserably failed to check growing lawlessness. People are once again passing sleepless nights and no one seems to be safe. Even the elected representatives are not safe from this scourge of lawlessness.
Unfair Employment Practices against Sindhis
Thousands of workers from all over Sindh, including SAZDA, Textile Corporation, Cotton Mills, PIA, Zeal Pak Cement Factory and many other industrial units have either been laid-off or have not received their wages since months. Anarchy rules the province. Daily agitation, dharnas, and hunger strikes against the power failures, a sharp rise in cost of living, police brutality, lawlessness, and water shortages are everyday affairs. In response the government has shown a callous attitude towards the needs of the indigenous people of Sindh. The so-called rural and urban divide has been created by the vested interests. We are facing a conspiracy of converting indigenous Sindhi population into a minority in their homeland.
Discrimination of Sindhis in Education
Education system in the province is in a bad shape. Most of the educational projects in the province are either canceled or prematurely snapped. Nothing useful came out from projects like 'Adult Education Scheme' for interior Sindh, 'Nai Roshani School Project', etc. Millions of rupees were spent on these projects to be abandoned half way. It needs a lot of commitment and dedication to get education back on track in Sindh. Education standard is affected all over the province. We deplore the ending of Education Quota for rural Sindh. This brings an end to fair educational opportunities in Sindh. With an acute disparity in economic opportunities in the country, how can you practice so-called "Competitive System"? It only establishes the law of jungle. We do not oppose competition, we support fair competition. But for a fair and equitable competition it is essential to have leveling of playing fields. If open and non-objective competition is to be practiced, then Pakistan should remove all import barriers to open its entire market to all international products and services. Why to protect Pakistani goods and services against foreign competition? Even the most industrialized nations have tariff and non-tariff barriers to protect their homegrown goods and services. Is this not a quota system? Fair and moral governance requires fair treatment of all citizens. You do not let your strong children beat your weak once to death. Do you?
Contamination of River Indus
Contamination of River Indus is another worry for Sindhis, who are constantly pressuring the federal government to suspend RBOD (Right Bank Out Fall Drain) project planned by the WAPDA. RBOD is contaminating Indus water by allowing saline and toxic drainage effluents to flow into the river as part of its operations. This is the worst case of water pollution. This toxic water will cause irreparable damage to all of us.
Termination of Keti Bunder Project-A Criminal Discrimination against Sindh
This project started by PPP government would have tremendous economic benefits to rural Sindh. According to terms and conditions, Mr. Gordon Wu's Consolidated Electric Power Asia (CEPA) would have invested $2 billion in Kept Bunker Project. This project would have used Sindh's huge coal reserves in Thar to generate electricity. CEPA deal included a 500 MW generating station. At present Pakistan produces 12000 MW per day and this CEPA project alone would have constituted about 40% of total daily output in Pakistan. This output of 500 MW would have been sold to public as 5.57 APIs/kW comparing to 6.1 APIs/kW government of Pakistan wanted to buy from the foreign companies. India has shown its eagerness to pay 7.1 paisa/kW to buy power from Thar coal project. On top of it, the deal also included building of a railway line from Thar coal to Keti Bunder to Karachi.
Creation of almost 20,000 jobs-A modern deep-sea port (this would have been third seaport for Sindh)-A modern city-An industrial zone-And all this at no cost to government. Why such a deal has been shelved? We believe that the Keti Bunder Project have been shelved not on economic constraints but for political reasons. Therefore, we strongly condemn the 'criminal discrimination' of Sindh by the present government. Just as General Zia shelved the Indus Superhighway Project because it was beneficial to Sindh, the present government has similarly destroyed another good project aimed at developing long-neglected rural areas of Sindh. We call upon all the MNA's and MPA's of Sindh to quit their party loyalties and raise their voice against this gross injustice to their native province.
PML-MQM Accord a violation against right of self-governance
We believe that PML-MQM accord is a total sell out of Sindh's democratic, national and collective human rights. This accord is unjust, illegal, unconstitutional and very harmful to Sindh. The most damaging is the clause, which allows MQM (A) to identify terrorists and disarm them in any area of Sindh. A terrorist group pointing fingers to others and asking government to eliminate them is the most ridiculous and dangerous phenomenon. It is an irony that those who are declared terrorists have been assigned to point out other terrorists. In our opinion, this accord has legitimized and institutionalized terrorism in Sindh. This accord has rendered even Muslim league ministers ineffective in Sindh. SANA deplores terrorism regardless of its origin and ideological justifications. We strongly condemn the release of terrorists without trial. Overwhelming majority of Sindhis perceive PML-MQM accord as unfriendly and against a majority of population of Sindh province. When MQM terrorists are awarded compensation in so-called extra-judicial killings then what about those Sindhis who have been killed or otherwise dislocated by the wave of terrorism created by MQM.
We urge all citizens of Sindh to breakaway from hatred brewing political groups and parties and unite in the interest of Sindh. It is the only land that gave love and tender care to all of her children regardless of their origin, faith, color or creed.
Provincial Autonomy- a Broken Promise
Provincial autonomy for Sindh remains as elusive as ever. Successive governments have systematically reduced the provincial autonomy to the point that smaller provinces have become colonies of the center. The foundations of Pakistan were laid on the federating principle. But this historic covenant was violated by vested interests soon after the first dawn. This attitude has created a national disillusionment. It is tragic that we did not learn any lessons from the Bangladesh debacle. The provisions of the 1940 Pakistan Resolution relating to the provincial autonomy have been nakedly defied. This has resulted in total subjugation of the smaller provinces by the center. We believe that autonomy is the soul and body of pluralism and democracy. It is also a very sensible way of managing the affairs of State and government. Sindh joined Pakistan on the basis of firm assurances given to its inhabitants that they will have total ownership of their culture and natural resources.
We demand our legitimate right as enshrined in the constitution and also guaranteed by the 1940 resolution. We believe that political stability in Pakistan hinges upon the maximum autonomy of the federating units and at the same time equal representation of the provinces in the central administration. Only complete autonomy will create the mutual respect and confidence among the different ethnic entities of Pakistan.
Unchecked illegal Immigration- a Mother of all ills
Sindh is already saturated because of continuos influx of illegal immigrants. There is no room left for more settlements. Further settlements indicate the conspiracy to turn indigenous people into minority. The fact is before 1947, the migrants constituted only 3% of the population of Sindh but now they are 30% including legal and illegal immigrants from India, Burma, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and other provinces of Pakistan. This problem is the greatest threat to our demographic stability, peace, and economic development. We believe that ethnic conflicts, terrorism, lawlessness, unemployment and poverty are the direct results of unchecked and illegal immigration in Sindh. This never-ending immigration phenomenon is a dire threat to the sovereignty of Sindhi people and existence of Pakistan.
We urge that this continuing massive influx of unchecked and illegal immigration should be stopped. If continued, it will result in serious political, economic and social upheaval in Sindh. Conversion of native Sindhi people into a minority in their homeland is not only a violation of their collective human rights, but it is a clear breach of covenant of Pakistan Resolution and international conventions on rights of indigenous people. These international covenants and laws on political, cultural and human rights, give Sindhis an inalienable right to be in absolute majority in their homeland. Any massive demographic alteration is immoral and illegal.
To check this influx of outsiders, the Sindh government should immediately establish a "Computerized Provincial Register for Domicile". This system will give a domicile number to every resident of Sindh and stop the illegal aliens in getting job and other services in the province.
Kalabagh Dam- a Construction in futility
Kalabagh Dam is yet another folly by the federal government. Punjab is mounting pressure on the federal government in favor of Kalabagh Dam, which is strongly objected by the Sindh and NWFP provinces while on this issue Balochistan is supporting Sindh. This dam is a disaster for Sindh's ecology and marine life. For short term relief federal bureaucrats are blinded to long term damage to the country and the smaller provinces. When the three provincial assemblies have rejected the project then there is no logic to continue this on behest of one province. W e believes that the Construction of Kalabagh Dam is tantamount to an open declaration of war against people of Sindh. Sindhis will never compromise on this issue.
NFC Award- a piracy of poor by the rich
Distribution of Revenues and grants-in-aid Order, 1997", is the distribution of public revenue between federal and provincial governments. Due to this order, Sindh has suffered an unjustified reduction in NFC Award when Sindh contributes the most in the federal revenues. Sindh has suffered a loss of Rupees 45 billion due to this unjust award. Sindh is getting smaller share in NFC award because the sharing formula has been changed in favor of the federal government. In other words, Sindh is getting 25% of divisible pool while generating more than 70% in the total revenues of Pakistan.
Motor Way-a road to distrust and division
The estimated cost on this motor way will be 32 to 40 billion of rupees. The cost analysis determines that every vehicle that will use this highway will have to pay rupees 300 to break-even. It is reported that the Pakistan government has decided to charge rupees 100 per vehicle and the government will subsidize the rest 200. Now who will have to pay for this subsidization? Naturally, provinces will have to cough up rest of the money. It has been well researched that the traffic between Lahore and Islamabad does not warrant a fast highway. It has been well documented that the bulk of traffic moves in lower Pakistan that is Sindh and its lower belt. Why build an unnecessary highway when it is not warranted by the current traffic flow in that part of the country.
We condemn the kidnapping of Pir Mazhar an elected provincial assembly leader in the broad daylight. It is a sorry example of statehood and governance. We are aware of the fact that when resolved, law enforcement agencies have caught the culprits within shortest period of time.
The continued abduction of Pir Mazhar is an indication of lack of interest by the government authorities. We are aware of similar incidents in previous regimes. But two wrongs do not make one right. We urge government authorities to take serious interest in resolving this case.
This body does not approve the so-called Water Accord which is nothing less than stealing of Sindh waters. Freezing of development projects in Sindh is in no way a moral tool of political games. These decisions directly punish people of Sindh and not any political party or a group.
Homage to Dorab Patel and Dr. Feroz Ahmed
The SANA Executive Council mourns death of human rights activists Rt. Justice Dorab Patel and Dr. Feroz Ahmed. In their demise Sindhi people and people of small nations have lost two of their best friends. Their contributions will always be remembered and valued by victims of individual and collective human rights violations.