SINDH: Jalal says religion must be separated from state

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HYDERABAD: Sindh United Party (SUP) president Syed Jalal Mehmood Shah has observed that only Punjab is considered to be the entire federation of Pakistan notwithstanding the fact that the country was created by different nations. The state of Pakistan is witnessing conflicts because it has made religion a part of it.

Mr Shah was speaking to delegates of the three-day convention of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (Afzal Butt group) that started here on Friday.

“Soon after inception of Pakistan, issue of state and religion had cropped up and nationalist leaders, including [Jeay Sindh Tehreek founder] G.M. Syed, started opposed mixing up religion with state and telling foreign powers that they [the establishment] were not separating religion from state, like some other Muslim countries, for vested interests,” the SUP chief claimed.

He warned that such a policy would cause a fire that would eventually engulf them too.

Mr Shah said that democracy was not all about seeking votes. “Politics has now become a business; I take pride in saying that three generations of my family have been doing politics but they never made it a business and, as such, they faced difficult conditions.”

He said that since conflicts of religion and civil-military relations existed here, so Pakistan could not become a true federation. He noted that all development [work] was seen in Lahore, which could lead to a population shift.

Mr Shah said that Pakistan’s other important issues were denial of existence of nations in the country and a genuine foreign policy. Resultantly, he added, good relations with neighbouring countries and regions could not be established. He said Pakistan had become a ‘security state’ and held rulers responsible for the ongoing conflict in Balochistan. He said that Baloch could not be compelled to become “Pakistani nation”. Rights of nations would have to be safeguarded, he added.

He said that security interests alone were being considered national interests in this country.

The SUP chief was of the view that apparently genuine issues and interests of Sindh — like protection of Sindh’s geography, right to rule, language, ownership of resources, religious harmony, culture, representation in decision-making bodies, etc — are in conflict with the country’s “national interests”.

He made it clear that SUP wanted Sindh’s interests protected within the framework of Pakistan. He said that some parties — including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — in Pakistan tended to believe in kingship and they had made politics a business.

Observing that elected houses witnessed only speeches but no practical work was done, he said they were supposed to come up with legislation. Certain legislative works were done even without holding meetings of parliamentary parties and if someone dared to raise objection to this, the person was considered a traitor.

“Officials are protected in assembly sessions when they do not submit replies to [lawmakers’] questions,” he observed.

He alleged that the PPP never protected interests of Sindh. He said that the PML-N did not honour the accord it had signed with his party as [PML-N cheif] Nawaz Sharif did not run Pakistan as a federation.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2018