London: Pakistan backed violent religious extremism is a threat to South Asia and the world. Sindhi nation because of its deep secular roots and strategic location can play a decisive role in the region to avert the threat. This was the consensus at the 25th International Conference on Sindh, organized by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), held in London on 9th November 2013.
Several distinguished scholars and activists from Sindh, USA, EU, Canada, and the UK gathered to present papers and speeches on the theme of ‘REGIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY IN SOUTH ASIA: ROLE OF SINDHI NATION.’
The conference passed 11 resolutions concerning situations in Sindh and Pakistan. The conference resolved that the Pakistan government should immediately declare the whereabouts of all the missing people and release thousands of detained political and human rights activists of Sindh and Balochistan. Pakistan should stop the continued policies of extrajudicial killing of Sindhi and Baloch political workers.
The conference resolved that the ban on Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz and head money on its chairman Shafi Muhammad Burfat be withdrawn.
The conference also resolved that religious minorities are subjected to brutal atrocities all over Pakistan, especially against Sindhi Hindus in Sindh and Christians and Ahmadis in Punjab
Conference delegates pleaded to USA and EU that international aid to Pakistan should be made conditional to the restoration of the human rights and to equitable distribution of resources to all provinces of Pakistan.
The conference demanded from the Pakistan government to divert resources for the development and education of Sindhi people. The conference delegates called upon Pakistan government to slash its defense budget, including the expenditure on nuclear arms and allocate more funds for the development of the marginalized nation.
Ex-chairman of WSC Dr. Hidayat Bhutto, opened the conference and said “the conference provide us an opportunity of a discourse on a plethora of inter-related issues such as violent religious extremism, dominance of military establishment in Pakistan, nuclear threat, human rights violations against Sindhi and Baloch nation and finally last but not the least what role the Sindhi nation can play to avert the threats to regional and global peace and security.’
Dr. Rubina Greenwood, Secretary General WSC, presented the report of activities for the year 2012-2013. She detailed the activities that WSC have carried out to plead the case of Sindhi nation on the international platform of UN, US Congress, and the European Union. She also delineated the cooperation between WSC and other Sindh and Baloch organizations.
Dr. Safdar Sarki, Chairman of Jeay Sindh Tahreek, said two nation theory was itself a start of religious extremism that has become so powerful in recent days that it is threatening not only regional but global security as well. He said that Pakistan is the main perpetrator of this threat. If the world really desires peace then they have to support Sindhi and Baloch secular nations and their struggle for self-determination.
Dr. Elvira Dominguez-Redondo, from Department of Law, University of Middlesex presented a paper titled ‘Right to self-determination in International Law.’ She presented the background and various interpretations of the term ‘nation’s right to self-determination’. She suggested that Sindhi people should continue to use the right of indigenous people to initially protect their rights and territory from the hegemony.
Dr. Charles Graves, General Secretary of the Geneva-based Interfaith International said that the China-Pakistan nexus could create serious difficulties for the struggle of Sindhi and Baloch people. He said that Zulfiqar Abad and Gawadar ports are just two examples of this nexus. In the conclusion, he called upon Russian Federation to resist Chinese encroachments.
Dr. Hyder Lashari, Chairman of GM Syed Studies Board, in his speech said that Sindh has historical and philosophical strengths to counter the threat from religious extremism and militarization. Sindhi and Baloch can guarantee the regional peace and security.
Mr. Shoib Mengal read the speech of Baloch leader Mr. Harbiyar Marri. Mr. Harbiyar Marri’s speech reiterated that for Baloch and Sindhi nations there is only one way for peace and dignity and it is the freedom from the yoke of Pakistan.
Mr. Umed Lagahri read the speech of Baloch representative at UN Human Rights Council. Mr. Mehran Marri’s speech emphasized that the struggles of Sindhi and Baloch nations are intertwined and therefore a united struggle for emancipation is the only way forward.
Mr. Graham Williamson coordinator of Nations without States said their organization is in fact for people such as Sindhis to plead their case for their national state.
Mr. Dilip Ratnani member of the Sindhi Association of North America and involved in many human rights advocacy and community uplifting projects portrayed the sad picture of institutional discrimination against the indigenous Sindhi Hindus. He said that it is the duty of all Sindhis to make their effort to save these vulnerable people from atrocities and suffering.
Mr. Prem Matlani’s, a historian, the speech was also read at the conference, which presented the historical background and current situation with regard to discrimination and atrocities against Sindhi Hindus.
Mr. Suhail Memon, a political analyst, journalist and writer said that the although there is a huge effort from the state to eradicate secularism from Sindh Sindhi people’s secular values still survive the example of which was exhibited in the case of the tragedy of Bhoro Bheel.
Dr. Naseem Metlo, a postdoctoral research fellow specializing in Talibanisation said that supporting religious fundamentalism as a state policy emerged with the emergence of Pakistan. He said that all the governments have supported it for their own gains and means, however, the most milestone which has culminated in the modern Talibanisation phenomenon was started by the military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
Dr. Mushtaq Abassi, with doctoral research on the modern history of Sindh, outlined that how Sindh has been systematically marginalized from day one of Pakistan and narrated how one-unit was illegally implemented to colonize Sindh.
Mr. Mushtaq Sarki a renowned journalist exposed that how the so-called ‘national media’ is biased and anti-Sindhi and it is need of the hour to work on this front to expose the atrocities being committed against Sindhi people.
Mr. Siraj Lakho a student political activist from Karachi University said Sindhis have been denied their basic human rights including the right to education.
Mr. Ameer Abro, a writer, poet, activist, and an advocate for Right to Education narrated the case of Sindh and informed that how Sindhi people’s education is being systematically destroyed at all levels and Sindhi people play their role to improve the situation if they want to succeed.
Among others who spoke at the Conference included Mr. Abdul Jabbar Qureshi, Chairman Sindhi Sangat UK, Sasuie Leghari of International Sindhi Women Organisation and Imdad Odho of Radio Voice of Sindh.
Dr. Lakhu Luhana concluded the conference. He thanked everyone for supporting in making the conference a successful and productive event. He said that the South Asian region encompassing about 40% of the world’s population never had this level of threat to its peace, which results from the phenomenal rise in violent religious extremism, colonial expansion of China and aggressive military designs of Pakistan’s security establishment. He said that Sindhi people will have the greatest loss from this as their thousand-year-old secular philosophical outlook, geography and history is being annihilated. He emphasized that the international community need to understand that this threat to regional peace could only be averted by defeating the fascists and not by either appeasing or arguing them. He warned that if the international community fails to defeat these forces the price that the humanity has to pay would be unprecedented in human history.