Abdul Khaliq Junejo

Audio | English | اردو

We have tried to keep loyal to Abdul Khaliq Junejo’s words in this transcript. However, interested readers, should listen to the audio for the full flavor of the interview.

Abdul Khaliq Junejo (AKJ): My name is Abdul Khaliq Junejo. I am basically a civil engineer, but I am also a lawyer. I practice law and I am a part of Jeay Sindh Mahaz. When Jeay Sindh Mahaz was created I was a student. 40 years ago. Now I am its Chairman.

Tanqeed (TQ): Can you start off by telling us about the history of the Jeay Sindh Mahaz? Where did the organization start off from?

AKJ: When Bangladesh was born. We all know in Pakistan that the first and last real election took place in 1971. In that, the Awami League, the represenatives of the Bengalis, were in the majority. Not just in Bengal, but overall in Pakistan. They won the majority. Back then there was martial law. A new constitution was supposed to be formed. But the assembly was not called nor were they allowed to make a constitution. Nor were they allowed to form a government. Instead there was a military operation against them, their people were killed, and they were made to separate.

Then, in Sindh, the question arose, especially among the leaders of the nationalist movement, Sir G. M. Syed (Ghulam Murtaza Syed), concluded that these rulers (hukumraan) are not going to get any better. When the rulers (hukumraan) are shown such a clear mandate, a clear majority… Then, after that, he concluded, that within this federation, within this framework, nations will not get any rights. Then, for Sindh, he announced the start of the struggle for an independent and free Sindh. And for that, he made this organization (jamaat). On 18 June 1972. Its purpose was Sindh’s political, economic and cultural freedom. This was its main purpose. And it was for this purpose that it is still struggling.

TQ: Did G. M. Syed also fight for the separation of Sindh before 1970 (1972, ed.)?

AKJ: Freedom… The thing that people call separation, we call it freedom. That he started when Bangladesh came into existence in 1972. Otherwise, for Sindh’s autonomy and freedom—that was the purpose of his life (to struggle, ed.). He started politics when he was 15 years old. So he has started (this politics, ed.) then.

First the struggle for Sindh (and its independence, ed.) from Bombay. Sindh was made a part of Bombay you know. When they were made a part of their provincial assembly. So from then onwards he played a big role in Sindh’s rights. Then in the 1940’s resolution, the Lahore or Pakistan Resolution… He played a role in that. Then with that, the Sindh Assembly passed a resolution to become a part of Pakistan. G. M. Syed played a role there.

Then when Pakistan was made, and the ruler’s policies changed. The worst form of centralized government was started by (Muhammad Ali, ed.) Jinnah Sahib. And he established his dictatorship, so he clashed with G. M. Syed from the first day. Karachi was cut away from Sindh and made separate. You probably know. In 1948, by Jinnah Sahib. There was a response in Sindh, and G. M. Syed was in the forefront. Then Sindh’s existence was finished, and One Unit was created—West Pakistan was made into one province. The struggle against that was led by G. M. Syed.

About Sindhi language and Sindhi culture, he not only in the political realm but in the intellectual and literary realm he wrote books. He has about 60 books on history, literature, culture and politics, of course. And he took Sindh’s nationalism, history, culture and literature and gave it a new form. A book came out, Peghaam-e-Latif (Message of Latif, ed.). Everything changed with that. Before that Shah Latif was seen as an elder. But G. M. Syed, with this book, promoted Shah Latif as a revolutionary poet. Like this, in terms of history, he wrote for the first time, he brought this on record, that Muhammad Bin Qasim was an oppressor, and Raja Dahir was a hero who was defending his nation. And Muhammad bin Qasim was not preaching Islam (tabligh se kohin waasta nahin tha). He was just representative of arab imperialism. So I am telling you this very briefly, that his work was as a trendsetter, or one who changes a path… So his entire life (was dedicated to, ed.) Sindh’s rights, political, economical, cultural (rights, ed.). But the talk about Sindh’s freedom came in 1972. And behind that the main factor was Bangladesh’s existence.

TQ: At that time, JSM was created. After that, what happened to JSM? It seems like it was split into different groups. So could you tell us a little more about this movement?

AKJ: Yes, this is completely correct. The organization that he created was called Jeay Sindh Mahaz. And I am with that now. But after that there were factions and groups. Some groups happened in G. M. Syed’s lifetime. And some groups formed after his death. This is an unfortunate situation. But this happens in politics. Disagreements take place. No political movement in the world looks the same as it does when it starts. One where there are no disagreements. No conflict. This is but natural. Though this is unfortunate. So there are groups. But we are still continuing Jeay Sindh Mahaz. And the groups that exist…

Your next question is probably: What is the reason? I will answer that now. So one, G. M. Syed—when it came to political struggle—agreed with Mahatma Gandhi. So his politics was non-violence. So Jeay Sindh Mahaz also runs on non-violence. So there are some other friends, who wants to do politics by other means. They think that one should also use other methods. So that is also one main reason for that. Then, once the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement, ed.) politics came into Sindh. The trends from that—something you would call high-handedness in English, or whatever—those ways also became a part of Sindh’s nationalist movement.

So in that Jeay Sindh Mahaz has a very clear policy: Of non-violence. And no unhealthy activity will take place. If we want people’s sympathy it will happen through free will. No pressure or coercion should take place. And it should be completely secular. Religion should have no part of a national movement. And this should not be on an ethnic basis. But on the basis of a political, economic interest. So on these things people disagreed. So they separated and became separate organizations. There were also people who, once they became separate, also left the program for freedom. They changed their program.

TQ: How many organizations exist now and what are their names? And what are their politics? And what is Jeay Sindh Mahaz’s own mission? Do they want freedom/separation? And are they ready to take part of elections?

AKJ: There are mainly 4-5 groups, that have separated. I have told you some of the fundamental principals of Jeay Sindh Mahaz’s poltitics briefly. And, right now we want—well we  believe that this state… If you were there yesterday then I told you briefly what this state has done with us. So then in light of that we believe that… For example, take the 1940 resolution, through which we became a part of Pakistan. Sindh was not conquered, through a military operation. And before 1947 Pakistan did not exist, Sindh did. This is a historical fact, it’s existence. Now if this is a part of Pakistan, then any rational person would ask, how was it made? So the 1940 resolution was the only method. There is no other way.

So in the 1940 resolution it says, “constituent units shall be sovereign and autonomous”. Now sovereign means that it is free in every way, whatever decision it may want to take. If they think that they do not have rights in this country, then they have a right to come out of it (this country, ed.). And in the past 65 years, starting out by violating that agreement, they finished it before Pakistan was even created. They rulers say themselves that they have changed it. Since then every agreement they have made, they’ve made unilaterally, and broken unilaterally. And this is continuing.

The consequence is that now we are sometimes we fighting for our survival, sometimes for our natural resources. Sometimes there is an influx of Sindhis from the outside, that are trying to put Sindhis in a minority. Sometimes we are fighting on the NFC award. Sometimes our water is shut off and we are fighting for that. And now it has reached the point where we are talking about splitting Sindh. Now that is happening under the nose of the state. Under the state’s shadow, everything is happening. Then we think we didn’t get freedom from the english, and have Sindh become a part of Pakistan for this! That we should live the lives of slaves. So we think that now in this current system and state, there is no opportunity for peoples (qom) to get rights. So that is the basis for our struggle. The basis on which we became a part of Pakistan, namely that constituents shall be sovereign. Now its sovereign existence should be accepted, the Sindhi nations. And this sovereign existence should then decide, whether the last 65 years of living under the state. Whether that is something that they want to remain with. Or do they want to make a free state.

Now that is  something that is even recognized by international law. And in international law it is called the right of self-determination. The UNO has accepted that. And actually, it is also a resolution of the Muslim League passed in 1946. That whatever one unit, after 10 years feels that injustice has been perpetrated against them within this federation or this country, then it can opt out via a people’s referendum. That is what Jeay Sindh Mahaz is fighting for. That is the program that we are trying to promote, that we should get a new opinion from people regarding this state.

TQ: How much support does Jeay Sindh Mahaz have in Sindh? Because when we hear about Sindh, we hear that interior Sindh has high voting, and that it goes to the PPP. So how much support do you have?

AKQ: So I want to agree with this assumption first. Yesterday, I also said this at the seminar (book launch in Lahore, ed.). That in this system, and in this society, feudalism and military rule’s colonial state, in that an assembly vote cannot be seen as reflective of the strength of a decision. That has never happened in this world. There needs to be a free, independent country, where people’s opinions are respected. There the assembly is made a criteria. When one country is occupied, then the assembly is not a criteria. Because assemblies, within the system that exists, it exists in loyalty to that system. And they remain loyal, and to save the status quo. They are not organizations that are for change. Assemblies and courts are not for fundamental change. They are to stop fundamental change. The assemblies or the courts. See how they help each other.

When the agricultural reform bill went to the assembly the Shariat Court decided that no no, this cannot happen. This is against Islam. Why? Because feudals are sitting in parliament. No one wants agricultural reform. So they keep on strengthening those systems. These assemblies keep on strengthening those systems. That is the first point.

Secondly, as a ideology, or in terms of a thought, I can accurately estimate that a huge population in Sindh is with nationalism. And that is the reason that all the main parties, including the PPP, cannot do politics without taking up the national question. Take the People’s Party. Their founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. He said there is no Sindhi nation here, only the Pakistani nation. And whoever calls himself Sindhi or Baloch—he fixed a law to punish them by law. And he said that anyone who calls himself Sindhi or Baloch, I will beat and beat him to turn him into a Pakistani. No one is separate. That party only does politics in Sindh on Sindh’s issues. It is separate that they betray (those issues, ed.). But in the 8 years under the Musharraf government, the People’s Party—I want to bring this on record—did not do politics from their party platform even for a single day. They did politics, and made a committee, anti-Kalabagh Dam and Greater Thal Canal Committee. In which nationalist parties were also with them. So all politics was done from that (platform, ed.). Jamaat-e-Islami, their founder Maulana Maududi said that speaking of a nation linked to land is heathenish (kufr) in Islam. In Islam a nation only exists on the basis of ideology, of religion, not on the basis of a people. Jamaat-e-Islami, when it enters Sindh, has they take up issues of nationalism. They need to take up issues surrounding natural resources, the question of education, the question of land. All the issues of nationalism, they are forced to take them up. So as an ideology, nationalism is strong and great. But the system is such, that this election… So as I said that in a colonial system you cannot speak of election.

Then in practice, they have made it so, that only those that have 3, 4, 5 crore rupees can contest an election. So only the feudals that can contest them. Or retired bureaucrats. For 40 years they steal from people, and then they contest an election. So the election, at this point, in Sindh and in Balochistan too. I cannot speak on their (Balochistan’s, ed.) behalf. But they are at this level that the decision is now about sovereignty.

So take sovereignty, let me give you an example, on the election and national rights. The best example is Kashmir. Everyone in Pakistan accepts it. Punjab’s people support it more. Pakistan’s state also supports it. There, in the last 65 years, there have only been 10 years where elections have not taken place. The decade in the 90s. The part of Kashmir that is with India. The rest of the elections have been regular and far more higher quality than those in Pakistan, which the world accepts. Now, there, those organizations win that want to stay with India. Now does that mean that there is no issue in Kashmir? No! That is such a huge issue that India’s government, despite the assembly elections, where supported groups are selected. Despite that Indian government has spent the last 65 years not letting a referendum take place. Despite that their founder, Jawaharlal Nehru, committed in the UNO that he would let a referendum take place. But they are not letting it happen, because they know that the assembly vote, and the freedom vote, are as different as heaven and earth. And Pakistan is also demanding it. Otherwise, Pakistan should not demand it, on the same basis that they say that we should not be allowed to—i.e. that people give the vote to the People’s Party, and therefore you have nothing to say. So in Kashmir people give the vote to the Muslim Conference, the National Conference. Well they want to stay with India. Now does that mean Kashmir’s problems are resolved? No, the solution to Kashmir’s problem is the right of self-determination. Likewise, in Sindh, the assemblies, they cannot be made a criteria, nor should they be made a criteria. Yesterday, I met with Lahore’s intellectual cream. I also said to them, do not look at this, or else the consequence will be different.

TQ: Now the situation is such in Karachi, that there are not just Sindhis. But Mohajir—in MQM. There are also Punjabis, and Baloch. They say that Karachi is the biggest Baloch city. So these different peoples (qom) that have entered Sindh. If your referendum is to take place. What will happen to them?

AKJ: We have actually presented a thesis on this. At the moment it is only in Sindh. If you say so, I can give you that. It has been translated into English, it is being printed. We will give it to you. In that we have answered all of these questions, with examples.

For the moment, I will say that rights and rule over a territory is always with those of the indigenous peoples. If people come from outside. They come in two ways. Some come for work. If they come for work to our land, then if they are decent people, then they will not claim ownership or rule (hukumraani). The other type of people are those that come with such intentions, who want to oppress. If they have come, it does not mean they are rulers (malik). If they come for work, then we believe migration takes place, people go from one place to another. People go from here to America, Britain, Arab Emirates. Do they become rulers as soon as they get there? They do not have the right to purchase property, or to vote there. They do not have political rights. In Pakistan, this is what is bringing us onto the path of freedom. That the pakistani state is so, that Sindh is made into a jungle. Whoever comes can come from Burma, Bosnia, whoever comes comes into Sindh. He buys ownership. He contests an election from there. He becomes a minister, or a senator from there.

This is colonialism, and this is what we’re struggling against. A referendum will take place. Sindh’s residents will be the ones who can give votes there. There are examples like that from our world. They have been given in detail in our thesis. Let us also make it clear that our nationalism is not on an ethnic basis. It is alright if people speak other languages. But they accept Sindh’s national existence. They see themselves as a part of the Sindhi nation. Then they are also just as Sindhi. Then they will also be a part of the same rights and duties. Despite speaking a different language. But if they accept Sindh’s political, economic, cultural rights. Just like people go to different countries and become a part of that. They go to America, after a while, they become a part of it. When they follow their culture, their laws, then they get political rights, and a share. They speak the language. Then they are American or British. Like this, those that are Sindh, they will gain political rights. And the rest, those who come for work, they can work, but they will not have political rights. And those that want to control Sindh, we are in war against then, and then either they win or we win.

TQ: If you give an example from abroad. Then changes do come in the language. So, culture and language does not stay the same. It changes, and probably has changed. So there are influences from everywhere. What are your thoughts on that?

AKJ: Yes, there are influences. Cultures influence each other. And they take in languages too. But this does not mean that languages come from abroad and take over, and the local language is finished. One thing is a natural process. If, after today, 100, 200, 500 years after, it could happen that we have 1, or 2-3 languages. And the rest are finished. And if ours also finishes, that is fine. But, at this it is that state patronage attempts to finish our language through suppression, and Urdu is being put on us. When Pakistan was created only 2% could speak Urdu. How did it become a national language? Is there an example of anything like that in this world? We are against that, which through unnatural means, through government repression happens against our nation. We are against that. We are even not against Urdu. Or any language. We are saying leave the field open. If our language is strong enough, then it will survive. And Ms. Mahvish, the Sindhi language has survived, it has that strength. When the Arabs came, they established Arabic as the government language. They were here for 300 years. But Arabic is nowhere to be found. Sindhi survived. Then, from Afghanistan and Central Asia, rulers came (hukumraan), and they established Persian. The Moghuls also established Persian. But now go to Sindh, and you won’t find Persian. Sindh has also survived that.

Let me tell you, Pakistan has some great linguists. First he was in Islamabad University, Dr Tariq Rehman. He has retired from there now he is in Lahore at LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) or some other university (Correction: Dr Tariq Rehman is at Beaconhouse National University, ed.). He has written a book called, “Language and Politics in Pakistan”. About 20 years ago. So he has said that on a high level, when two languages, Hindi and Urdu were at the heart of the government patronage, two languages were being repressed. Two languages were challenging it. Bengali and Sindhi. We have that in our language. We are against this repression. The rest, in a process, there are changes. We accept those. We do not say that what existed 5000 years ago should exist today.

TQ: Nowadays, there is a lot of struggle that we hear about regarding the passing of the SPLGO ordinance. Could you say a few words about that? About what should happen?

AKJ: Listen, both in terms of its content, and its method, in both ways, it is for Sindh, and for the Sindhi people (qom), a derogatory thing. It makes Karachi an independent government—this ordinance or law. And the struggle against this, it is not only against this ordinance. I said this before, that from the first day, from 1948 onwards, on that Sindh’s people have raised their voices, and struggled, but politicians have not given it any heed. And that is their success. But they do not know that all of these things come together, it gives birth to a whole mindset and a whole environment. Like in Bengal there was a problem. The Bengalis said our language should be made a national language. They were told in a derogatory way, no, is this even a language? It should be Urdu. It (Bengali, ed.) was finished. It then started from there. It came to the Six Points. The rulers did not accept the Six Points either, and it went towards independence.

So these 65 years, under which Sindh has been abused, and where the Sindhi nation’s struggle has not been responded to positively by the rulers, all of that is coming out in this anger. In this wish for change. That is now coming forth in the face of the struggle against this ordinance. And that is why I am saying that this struggle will run for a long time. And this struggle will run for the change of this state system. There are already voices speaking for the change of the system.

TQ: Now for this coming election. It seems that the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) tries to stand together with Baloch and Sindhi nationalists. What do you think about that?

AKJ: Now, when it comes to elections in Sindh or Balochistan and their issues, there are no solutions in this election. This election will save this status quo. It will maintain this system. PML-N, or People’s Party, or whatever parties. When it comes to fundamental issues around Sindh or Balochistan’s around national rights, and the whole political, economic, and cultural issues, and of sovereignty, no one accepts this. Everyone is against it. So that is not even an issue in these elections. The main issue is that this or that person should become Prime Minister. So we believe that there is no relation between this election and the real issues and ground reality in Sindh and Balochistan. The rest, when it comes to the situation in Sindh in terms of the elections… It is such that the People’s Party used to have a popular vote in Sindh. For 40 years this is a reality. Then, its candidates came and of the votes that came People’s Party would usually get them. Now People’s Party, the popular vote is largely non-existent. 10%-15% might still remain. Now elections will happen on this foundation, on how the big feudals have gone where. So now PML-N and People’s Party are both trying that, by and large the winning candidate should come towards us. So whoever they will choose, they will end up getting more seats.

TQ: We have heard about kill and dump in Balochistan. And kidnapping. Some JSQM (Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz) leaders have also been picked up. Is something like that happening in Sindh?

AKJ: Yes. Yes. Yes. It is certainly happening in Sindh. Maybe not on the same scale. JSQM’s have been picked up. JSMM (Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz) is another organization. Their people have also gone. And beyond them, there have been people who have been picked up. Who are either away for 2, 3, or 4 years, before they come back. Or they don’t come back at all, their bodies do. These sort of events also take place in Sindh. Slowly, slowly. They are increasing. Not as high as Balochistan, but it is happening.

TQ: How many people have been killed so far?

AKJ: I cannot give you an exact number. But if we look at those who have been picked up. Then they are more than 100.

TQ: And bodies?

AKJ: And bodies, I think there must be a dozen, or more than a dozen. So these are real figures.

TQ: And who is doing this?

AKJ: I can only do an analysis. I do not have the information. In Balochistan a nationalist struggle is ongoing. In Sindh there is an ongoing nationalist struggle. People are being picked up in both places, and the proportion of political activists is large. So common sense says that there is a connection to nationalist struggle. Since it is happening in both places. Who is doing it? Whoever is doing it, the responsibility lies with the state. That is what we think. Either the state is involved itself. If it is not involved, then this means that they are incompetent. The state’s first responsibility, Ms Mahvish, that is what we read in books, that their first responsibility is to protect people’s lives. So if people are being kidnapped for 6, 7, 8 years people are being kidnapped, and their tortured bodies are being dumped, and the state institutions cannot tell who is doing this, then they are totally incompetent. So they are also responsible in this case. So either they are involved, or they are incompetent. But they are responsible in both cases, and we see them see them as responsible.

TQ: To conclude, could you tell us about the status of the Sindhi nationalist movement? How strong it is? And what the road is going forward.

AKJ: I said this earlier as well, that ideologically and intellectually they are strong. There are very few religious circles in Sindh. If you compare with the rest of Pakistan, then there are very few in Sindh. But if we leave them, then all the rest in Sindh are from an ideological and intellectual angle with the nationalist question and the nationalist movement. And their field is not assemblies. So the example I gave of the One Unit that was made to finish the existence of Sindh—the entire state machinery’s power was behind that. Sindh’s power tried to stop that through a people’s struggle or road or path, to destroy the One Unit. So the current nationalist method does not have the assembly as its field. Its field (of work, ed.) is the road or path of the people, non-violence methods. And our struggle is growing and we are hopeful that there is now a decisive phase.

TQ: Thank you.

Pages: 1 2 3