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By: Hari Sud
June 19, 2007
expressed here are author?s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer
is at the bottom.
Mohajirs in Pakistan are Muslim immigrants from India (Uttar Pradesh - UP)
who made Karachi their home. They have been fighting continuously to gain
political power, often violently, but never succeeded. These Urdu speaking
migrants retained their language and culture of UP and were lured into
Pakistan with promises of power and wealth. There numbers were small and
they concentrated in the port city of Karachi. There they were unable to
overwhelm the local Sindhi population to gain complete political power.
Hence they maintained somewhat a tense relationship with the locals.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), Liaqat Ali Khan (its first
Prime Minister) and number of other early leaders were Mohajirs.
These better-educated and largely urban Mussalmans of central India
carried a heavy grievance against India. They were key to the anti Indian
and anti Hindu sentiments in Pakistan. As compared to the much larger
Hindu migrants who were forced out of Pakistan to India, Mohajirs in
Karachi preferred political power for their salvation. Hindu migrants from
Pakistan to India wished prosperity hence settled down to become
industrialists, businessmen and later politicians, Mohajirs kept dreaming
about political dominance. They ignored the Sindhi majority and aligned
with other migrants from Afghanistan i.e. Pashtu speaking Pathans. Very
soon Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated and Mohmmed Ali Jinnah died of
natural causes. In quick succession the two key Mohajir benefactors were
gone from the scene. Also a bit later, the political power base was
shifted from Karachi to Islamabad. This switching of the capital changed
the Mohajir?s fortunes forever. Pakistani Punjabis grabbed the national
political power and from then onwards began dominating the national scene.
Back in Karachi, Sindhis began their own drive to reclaim the political
power and that set off, the on again and off again, political crisis in
this port city.
Even with the loss of Mohajir political power, Karachi remained the
intellectual capital of the nation. It had a better education system,
thanks to urbanized Mohajirs. Also it boasted of being the only Pakistani
outlet via sea for commerce and international trade. Bulk of the civil
servants and policy makers were recruited from this sprawling city. All
major financial activity centered there. Other major cities of Pakistan
like Lahore, were much more grandeur but were not comparable to Karachi.
Lahore sorely missed the now departed Hindu population. The latter were
45% in number and were the soul of the city. Their departure had set
Pakistani Punjab a generation behind. This was Karachi?s gain. Urbanized
Mohajirs managed to establish Karachi as the intellectual headquarter.
UP Mussalmans were not the only migrants to Pakistan in 1947. Punjabi
Mussalman in Indian Punjab also migrated to Pakistan. These migrants as
opposed to Mohanjirs, blended into the society and into the established
cultural hierarchy, hence did not operate as a distinct group. Mohajirs
did not wish to be assimilated. They rather stay distinct. This cultural
disparity has set off chain of events, which often resulted in chaos and
disorder. The last May 12 riots in Karachi were the direct result of this.
Politicians often use one group against the other that results in death
and destruction. This time, it would appear that Mohajirs initiated the
trouble at the government?s bidding.
There was a 15 years of violent political instability in eighties and
nineties in Karachi. Political masters in Islamabad, mostly Punjabi
dominated army, loves the explosive mixture of Sindhis, Mohajirs and
Pathans. They use it for their own benefit. Rather this explosive mix has
undone all the gains Mohajirs had made in this port city since 1947. Now a
Mohajir dominated political party, MQM, is re-asserting itself. Local
Sindhis are in no mood to listen to them. Hence political maneuvering has
begun. The present military ruler of Pakistan, himself a Mohajir (from
Delhi), in order to cut the Pathan influence in the city to size, aligned
itself with MQM and began the recent rioting in Karachi.
Today, Mohajir intellectuals dominate government offices, colleges,
universities and other non-agricultural positions. They have been until
lately bulk of the Pakistani diplomats, nuclear scientists and engineers.
The only field they do not dominate is the agriculture and agricultural
infrastructure. This is the domain of Punjabis. The latter also man the
army and also all the security apparatus. In addition, almost all Jehadi
activity everywhere is also Punjabi dominated.
In pre-partition days, Urdu speaking UP Mussalmans were misled to believe
that their salvation was to immigrate to Pakistan. Hence a small but
influential number made it to Pakistan, in-spite of repeated appeals, not
to, by Muslim stalwarts like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Asaf Ali and almost
all the Deoband leaders. Today, they have become political tools of people
in power. There is an uneasy peace mostly enforced by gun toting
roughnecks of each community or by the government security services.
Occasionally this calm is broken. Each time this happens, Mohajirs loose
more influence and Sindhis gain it.
So where does the Mohajir power stands today in Pakistan? It has lost its
initial euphoria. It no longer exists as a power base for future leaders.
A number of Mohajirs have privately express desire to migrate back to
India. That is not possible. India in sixty years have moved forward, very
far ahead to the medieval politics, which the Mohajir political mindset
wishes to preach. India does not wish them back. But it is an open lessen
to the politicians who uprooted them from their homes a generation back.
Let us examine the Hindu and Sikh migrants from Pakistan who came to
India, hungry and penniless and suffered untold misery at the hands of
their neighbors and friends and had left their homes and property in a
land where they had been residents for five millennium. There number was
three times more numerous than the Muslim migrants who went the other way.
These Hindu and Sikh migrants in Indian Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal
Pradesh, and Western UP are today industry leaders, businessmen,
scientists and top diplomats. When they came, they were not searching for
influence but for shelter, food, education and place, which they could
call it home again. These sophisticated people were Pakistan?s greatest
cultural loss. Indian states where they settled became the immense
beneficiaries. Today, Delhi, a previously less sophisticated city is a
vibrant center of culture, commerce and industry. These immigrants made it
so. They brought with them five millennium of culture and heritage with
them. They enriched the culture and infused into it a germ of peace and
advancement thru blending and co-operation. As such there is no Mohajir
community of migrants in India, similar to the one in Pakistan.
Today a Sikh migrant from Pakistan (born in Pakistan) is India?s Prime
Minister and he leads a diverse group of people in the Congress party. It
is a true honor to the migrants who took to the school, colleges and
universities and refused to participate in-group politics.
Back to the subject of Mohajir power in Pakistan ? it is on the wane. Very
soon nothing will be left of it. Then these Urdu speaking migrants will
regret that they ever decided to leave their homes in India. Whatever is
done is done. It cannot be retracted. India wishes them well.
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Mohajirs in Pakistan, Muslim
immigrants from India
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