Defusing an ugly situation

Hyderabad is saved by the wisdom of political parties

The Sindh government headed off a potentially ugly situation on Friday, which threatened the ethnic peace of Hyderabad, the province’s second-largest city. Though Hyderabad has for decades been dominated by the MQM, to the extent the city’s National Assembly seats are considered safe for the MQM, as has been the city’s mayoralty, it has not been subject to the kind of ethnic tensions that have bedevilled Karachi, where the ANP has been able to establish a toehold because of the Pashtoon minority within it. While Hyderabad is not like Karachi, which can claim to be the city with the most Pashto-speakers in Pakistan, more than any city in KP or Afghanistan, it still contains enough to make the prospect of a clash between the Sindhi-speaking community and the Pashto-speaking community so horrific.

It seems that that had happened, and the two communities were only able to pull back from the brink only after a shop was ransacked by a mob. Ironically, the shop was run by a Pushtoon, who rented it from a Sindhi. The tension had arisen not because a Sindhi, Bilal Kaka, had been killed in the course of a clash at a restaurant owned by Shah Sawar Pathan. The horrific part of the incident was the apparent indifference shown by the crew of a police mobile, who had also been at the restaurant dining, but because of its failure to react, even though gunshots were fired under its nose.

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Though a potentially ugly and explosive situation was averted because of the good sense of Sindh government, which persuaded both the ANP, representing Pushtoons, and the Jia Sindh Qaumi Mahaz, representing Sindhis, to avoid any clash, the situation is still volatile. The emergence of overt ethnicity occurred in Karachi in 1986 because of the death of a Muhajir girl travelling by a Pashtoon-run wagon. The Qasba Colony massacres claimed at least 49 victims. No one wants history to repeat itself.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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