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  Mohajir Power in Pakistan  
 

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Mohajirs in Pakistan, Muslim immigrants from India


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By: Hari Sud
June 19, 2007
V
iews expressed here are author?s own and not of this website. Full disclaimer is at the bottom.

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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.

Hari Sud

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Mohajirs in Pakistan, Muslim immigrants from India


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