Suddenly a new wave of ethnic and sectarian contradictions has raised its head in Sindh, particularly in its economic centre Karachi. Being a cosmopolitan city, there are a number of communities residing here which makes it an easy target of ethnic and religious violence.
All the old players, who have played their part in spreading hatred in the past have sprung up, from Haqiqi, PSP and Amir Khan’s new MQM to Qadir Magsi’s STP and even the PPP. It is not difficult to realise that this conspiracy is being hatched to divert the upsurge among people against the system – towards hatred and competition among them. It seems history is repeating itself.
Imperialist and bureaucratic capital has always fostered a politics of hatred between people belonging to different ethnicities, sects and religions to strengthen their grip on Sindh. It is important to remember that during the language riots of the 1970s, Josh Sahib met Governor Rasul Bux Talpur Sahib and warned him that imperialist forces ignite hatred among the people before occupying any region and that the Urdu-Sindhi riots would take Sindh towards the same direction. The current situation is not dissimilar to what happened in the 70s – except that Sindh is already in the grips of imperialist and bureaucratic capital.
It all restarted in 2008, when opportunist elements within various political parties were used to initiate a bloodbath in Sindh. Everyday people of various communities were murdered and target killing became a common word in Karachi. This not only helped the powers-that-be to weaken these parties but also to lose their popularity, and provide for extrajudicial measures. This situation made it easier to either whip these parties to serve the interests of bureaucratic capital or to eliminate these parties completely.
Today, unrest is growing in Sindh – especially in Karachi – against this capital which is exploiting people at the behest of a few institutions and has strengthened its grip on the resources of the province and its capital city. That is why we have citizens who are suffering from high prices but not have jobs while trillions are being earned from here; there is no water for people but the tanker mafia is flourishing; there is no transportation system but the transport mafia is making millions; and people are barely managing rents but the builder and construction mafias are growing exponentially. Huge profits are being made by occupying slums, agricultural spaces and indigenous land under one pretext or another.
The real masters of this country are well aware of this unrest and a conspiracy is being hatched to turn people against each other and fight over the leftovers, so as to stop people from becoming a force and fighting for their real rights against their oppressors. But people know very well who is exploiting them – which is why Muhajirs, Sindhis, Baloch, Pashtuns, and Punjabis all joined hands under the umbrella of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek to fight against the NDMA and the federal and provincial governments.
A new politics has been emerging in the city where people are joining hands to fight against the injustice at Gujjar and Orangi Nullahs and housing societies that have usurped indigenous land. Surprisingly, all the parties that claim to represent one community or the other (Jamaat-e-Islami, MQM-Pakistan, Haqiqi, PSP, PPP) along with the PTI neither stood with the people of Gujjar and Orangi Nullahs nor with the people of Gaddap – and only served the imperialist and bureaucratic capital they are beholden to.
Many have realised that, whether it is rural Sindh or urban Sindh, it is not possible to fight their case separately and all of Sindh suffers when the contradiction among the urban and the rural becomes sharp. The Sindhi-Muhajir conflict in Sindh as a whole and the Pashtun-Muhajir conflict in Karachi are part of the same strategy that led to conflicts in the past – and the relentless exploitation of Sindh has continued ever since. Saeen GM Syed later understood this very well and that is the reason he declared that the people of urban Sindh were an integral part of Sindh's struggle. Today, people and even leaders from both urban and rural Sindh have also started to understand this fact. Building on this idea, we need a modern understanding of the nation under which every person born in Sindh should be accepted and that person should also own all of Sindh instead of finding roots from ancestral lands.
We believe that the narrow mindedness of the MQM and most of the Sindhi nationalist parties is linked to the fact that the politics of these organisations is not based on the working class and the peasantry. It is not that the middle class cannot play a revolutionary role. But to play such a role they need to recognise the revolutionary classes (workers and peasants) under the leadership of whom other oppressed sections of society can play that role. Unfortunately, the fight of the middle classes is limited to securing jobs and the politics of the quota system. These interests compel them to compromise with bureaucratic capital and feudalism for their class goals. This is precisely why their concept of national identity is limited to dress, language and employment, which takes them towards reactionary nationalism.
If we do a class analysis of Sindh, we will find that it is the feudal and comprador capitalist classes of Sindh who are aiding the imperialist and bureaucratic capital in exploitation of the province. Furthermore, on the one hand urban middle-class organisations are forced to negotiate with the comprador class, and on the other hand rural middle-class organisations are forced into a similar arrangement with the feudal class. These class positions naturally intensify the resolvable contradiction between the urban and the rural, instead of taking the struggle towards the unresolvable contradiction of imperialist and bureaucratic capital.
Therefore, any progressive movement in Sindh would require workers and peasants to play a central role, with the middle class and other oppressed sections of society aligned with them. Only such a movement can have the sort of class character that not only resolves the contradiction between ethnicities, sects and the urban-rural divide but also saves the movement from taking opportunistic lines. This is so because workers and peasants have a direct contradiction with capitalism and feudalism, unlike the middle classes which often align themselves with them.
Merely rejecting slogans of hatred alone can never solve the issue because under the super-exploitation of the province, people have no option but to fight for their survival. Either they unite to fight against their real oppressors and aides, or they fight among themselves for the leftovers. The survival of Karachi is linked to the survival of Sindh overall, and a united struggle against imperialist, bureaucratic and comprador capital on the one hand and the feudal system on the other.
After all, Sindh or the city of Karachi cannot be referred to as some piece of land; their people and their survival can only be possible through real solidarity among them and a struggle for a better future.
From the masses to the masses!
The writer is the convenor ofthe Karachi Bachao Tehreek and general secretary of the Awami Workers Party-Karachi. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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