Landed Colonialism: Pakistan Army’s occupation of land in Sindh

In this context, the complex example and the most suitable? subject? of the contemporary studies around federalism is Pakistan. No doubt one of the rare peculiarity of colonisation is land and natural resources along with the other manifestations of human and natural resources as well as territorial / geographical colonialism.
Warring against the citizens

An absolute militarized state and country dominated by ethnic Punjabi Muslims, Pakistan has a history of internal wars that it has been fighting against Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun and Siraiki people since March 27, 1948. These wars have no full-stop even after seventy-two years after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Almost all military operations and interventions carried in Sindh, Pakhtunkhuwa and in Siraiki South Punjab as well as invasion of Balochistan and parts of Kashmir had unavoidable deep connections with the land and land related interests.In fact, Pakistan Army is the largest land mafia in Pakistan, and unethically and due to illegitimate use of power, it possesses and keeps on occupying the prime land in Sindh, Balochistan, Pakhtunkhuwa, Siraiki South Punjab and occupied Kashmir.

Eying the land resources of Sindh

Sindh is natural resources rich land in South Asia having one of the oldest sea-ports in the region. Karachi, the capital city of Sindh, is the only cosmopolitan in Pakistan. The military has a history of occupying millions of acres urban and agriculture land; school and hospital buildings; and having shares, contracts and employments in the oil, gas, and coal resources of the province.

Recently it has started occupying the bulky land in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur cities for the mammoth human settlements there in a bid to ethnically cleanse the Sindhi from the cities and re-settle 20 million ethnic Punjabis there. By doing this, the land locked Pakistani Punjab province wants to ensure resisting possible freedom of Sindh.

The military has recently launched the controversial residential and commercial project Bahriya (Naval) Town in Karachi based on over one hundred thousand acres land in and around coastal Karachi. Another series of projects is also being planned in the Malir district of Karachi that also is based on over one hundred thousand acres land.

If the intended settlement of these projects is estimated, at least ten new seats in Sindh Assembly, National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan would be created by the new non-Sindhi settlers.

No end to movement

When Sindhi nationalists announced a movement against land occupation by the armed forces, the military retaliated. Over one hundred activists of various Sindhi nationalist parties were killed and around 2000 were either detained or enforcedly disappeared during August – December 2014. Recently, a civil society movement Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) announced launching movement against Malir projects; suddenly his car was crashed accidentally in which PFF leader Tahira Ali Shah was killed and Mohammad Ali Shah got severe injuries.

A large number of Sindhis in Diaspora have also protested against this situation outside United Nations headquarters as well as some countries of Europe and North America. Hundreds of protest demonstrations in Sindh in last six months have also been reported by the Sindhi media against these projects.

Apart from the movement, Sindh Government has also been vociferous on these issues; however they have remained unable to take serious actions against this. Recently Sindh Chief Minister announced to file a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the injustices.

Sindh Government said that Federation is discriminating, and Punjab is exploiting the resources of Sindh. However, there are fewer chances for justice through the apex courts. A best example in this regard is the recent conciliation orders by the Supreme Court of Pakistan of the Sindh Government’s armor purchasing deal with the Government of Serbia.

What else is there?

These projects are against the various charters, covenants and conventions of the United Nations, which are also signed by Pakistan. No doubt these projects are in absolute negation of the conventions and covenants on the economic, civil, political, cultural, and indigenous people?s rights. Serious initiatives are required by the concerned rights bodies and activists in the South Asia and the world to resist an ethnic cleansing of softer version in Sindh and Balochistan by the state of Pakistan.

(Zulfiqar Shah is state-less Sindhi refugee journalist, activist and analyst. http://www.zulfiqarshah.com)

About The Author – Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian. Currently he lives in India.

Courtesy: Above article originally published in MeriNews

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