When the so-called national TV channels were airing footages of official celebrations of March 23, two charred bodies of workers of a Sindhi nationalist party were awaiting interment in a morgue in Karachi. Millions of Pakistanis observing the day with profound fervour had no inkling of the grimace and anguish of the people of Sindh.
The two political workers — Maqsood Qureshi and Suleman Wadho — were associated with the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM). Their charred bodies were found in a smoldering car abandoned at a relatively deserted link road near Bhirya town of Noushehro Feroz district in the wee hours of March 21. Their postmortem report revealed that both of them were showered with bullets and their bodies were burnt after their murder.
Three workers of another nationalist party were killed in Sanghar district a few years ago.
According to reports, their vehicle was sprayed with bullets and then set ablaze with some inflammable substance. Atrocious and blatant violations of human rights are common in Sindh and Balochistan. Dumping mutilated bodies in Balochistan has already invited opprobrium of international community. Blithe state machinery bereft of even a tad of political sagacity is too obstinate to learn from history.
Young Maqsood Qureshi was brother of the former chairman of JSQM, Bashir Qureshi, who was mysteriously killed some two years ago.
Bashir Qureshi, a doughty nationalist leader, was revered for his humility and non-violent political struggle. Once an aggressive student leader, Bashir morphed into a political leader who ruled hearts of young political workers in Sindh. His death was widely mourned and resented in Sindh.
Ironically, his controversial death was never investigated in spite of frequent demands and protest by people of Sindh.
His brother, Maqsood, was an innocuous political worker who was known for his immaculate political career. His barbaric murder has ignited a strong yet admirably peaceful political reaction in Sindh.
There are discernible parallels between the two murders. Bashir had organised a humongous rally on March 23, 2012 in Karachi and was murdered within two weeks. His brother Maqsood Qureshi was killed only two days before March 23, this year — the day of the JSQM mammoth rally in Karachi.
Political leaders and human rights activists of Sindh believe that the two brothers were killed for committing the same sin of organising huge rallies on March 23.
Launched in early 1970s, the JSQM movement has remained remarkably non-violent mainly because of its founder G.M. Syed’s philosophy and practice of non-violence following the footprints of Gandhi. Many people may not be aware that about half a dozen factions of the Jeay Sindh movement each year celebrate G.M. Syed’s birth anniversary in his native town Sann, where carrying or displaying arms is strictly prohibited and not a single unpleasant incident has ever been reported on the annual ritual.
In a predominantly fractious political ambience, such characteristics are not very common and should not go unappreciated. Ghastly killings of leaders of such a peaceful movement look like a premeditated attempt to infuse violence in nationalist movement in Sindh. Credible evidences are never easy to establish that may justify implicating any specific perpetrator yet what is perplexing is that why dozens of such mysterious deaths go uninvestigated? This cannot happen without the connivance of people who command influence. Sliding all such cases under the carpet corroborates the assertion that it is not always an external hand that commits such crimes.
Higher judiciary in recent days has openly accused law enforcing agencies of forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Appalling human rights violations in the country are becoming more frequent and barbaric. Denying involvement of internal actors and blaming external involvement is hard to imbibe.
The flawed prescription of handling a political conflict brought an indelible ignominy in 1971 when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. The episode should have been a lesson to learn from, yet the security apparatus of the country demonstrated their inaptness by unleashing barbarity to steamroller the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983 and 1986 in Sindh. It did not stop there —the insensitivity extended towards Balochistan during the last decade has prevailed, giving a cold shoulder to repeated demands of civil society, political leadership and judiciary.
Political leadership in Bangladesh (and Balochistan) never demanded anything beyond constitution. Shaikh Mujib and his Awami League were demanding right to rule and the Baloch leadership has been demanding right over their natural resources. Both these demands are within the remits of the constitution of Pakistan.
Balochistan has become a bleeding wound, where hundreds of political activists have been killed in cold blood and dozens have been confined in clandestine internment centers. A headstrong former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court kept thundering in the courtroom but all fell on deaf ears. Missing persons and mass graves are stumbling blocks in restoration of peace in the restive province.
Amid all the uproar and embarrassment, more frequent killings of political workers are now being reported from Sindh. Dumping lacerated bodies and executing political activists in orchestrated encounters can stoke political violence which will be a recipe for disaster in this fragile national and regional security ambience.
Over six-decade history of the country is annotated with brazen trampling of human rights. What is more exasperating is that two opposite rules are being practiced in one country. Those who publicly infringe law of the country, proudly own pogroms and deride constitution are coddled as stakeholders but peaceful struggles for political rights are crushed with savagery and political activists are brutally killed. Such incidents will only sprinkle fuel on the fire and can eventually turn a peaceful nationalist movement violent.
Nationalist movement of Bangladesh and Balochistan were peaceful at their inception. Unbridled killings and flagrant violations of human rights spiralled violence that ultimately brought devastating results. One glaring example of peaceful nationalist movement of Sindh was witnessed on March 23 when thousands of people marched for several miles on Shahrah-e-Faisal, the main artery of Karachi, carrying dead bodies of their leaders and not even a minor incident of violence or even indiscipline occurred.
This testifies to a paramount commitment of nationalist movement to remain steadfast with a peaceful political struggle.
Regrettably, the so-called national media channels did not bother to relay this huge rally and did not appreciate such a commendable spirit of peaceful movement for political rights. Spirit of non-violence and equanimity if not reciprocated with political sagacity, may succumb to mounting frustration.
The provincial government in Sindh has failed to investigate unabated series of extrajudicial killings happening under its nose. Not a single responsible perpetrator has been nabbed so far. Such remiss and indolence is conspicuously deliberate.
The federal government is equally ignorant of this simmering volcano that can erupt with any incendiary incident. This lunacy must end to avoid any catastrophic ramifications. Repeating fatal mistakes of past would culminate in same nightmares.