LONDON, UK OCTOBER 17, 2016. Sindh is both the most resourceful province of Pakistan, rich with oil, gas, coal reservoirs, and the largest tax contributor in Pakistan, yet Sindhis remain among the poorest and most disfranchised nation in Pakistan. The Pakistani Establishment has devised policies which have appropriated Sindh’s land, stolen its natural resources, diverted its share of water from the River Indus through damming and illegal canals, all to benefit its largest province of Punjab.
These issues were the focus of the 28th International Conference on Sindh held at the University of Westminster, Harrow Campus, London, the UK on October 15th and 16th, 2016. This conference is organized annually by the World Sindhi Congress (WSC), a human rights advocacy group, based in the UK, USA, and Canada. Several dozens of delegates attended the conference and traveled from different parts of UK, EU, USA, Canada, India, Sindh and Balochistan.
“For more than 70 years Sindhis have tried to work out with Pakistan and with time to time Pakistan has clearly demonstrated that survival of Sindhis is not possible within the current Pakistani Federal structure,” said Dr. Rubina Shaikh, WSC’s newly elected chairperson.
Dr. Lakhu Luhana, Secretary General of WSC, said, “The recent plans to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Sindh and Balochistan, will severely marginalize people of Sindh and Balochistan politically, demographically and economically with a genuine threat to convert them into a minority in their homelands.”
Mr. Peter Tatchell, a prominent human rights campaigner from the UK, called for the referendum to grant the Right to Self-Determination for Sindhis and Balochs in Pakistan. “This is the only way to secure the rights of these Nations in Pakistan.”
Mr. Javed Mengal, a Baloch leader, lamented about Pakistani military operations in Balochistan and the campaign of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances of Baloch and Sindhi activists. Mr. Mengal called for the organised resistance of Sindhi and Balochs to face the atrocities that Pakistan has committed. He called the CPEC project extremely detrimental to the Baloch Nation.
Mr. Tom Deegan, Editor of the Asian Affairs Magazine, highlighted the history of bad policies and Pakistan’s practice of oppressing Nations. He condemned the Pakistani Senate’s recent decision not to grant Sindhi, Balochi, Pushto and Seraiki languages National Languages status.
Other prominent speakers who spoke at the conference included Mr. Suhail Memon, a writer, and journalist from Sindh, Dr. Zakar Sadat of Unity Afghanistan Movement, UK, Mr. Fernando Burges of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organization (UNPO) of Brussels, Mr. Javed Soomro and Mr. Riaz Sohail of BBC.
Representatives of other Sindhi Diaspora organizations also participated in the event. Among those who spoke at the conference included Ms. Sadaf Solangi of the International Sindhi Women’s Organization (ISWO), Mr. Sttar Soomro of the Sindhi Sangat, UK (SSUK), Mr. Imdad Odho of the Radio Voice London (RVOS), Ms. Irshad Abbasi, a human rights and political activist from the USA(SANA), and Raghvir Singh Sodho of the Indus Valley Research Institute, Jodhpur, India.
The cultural program included the showing of the documentary on Shah Latif Bhittai Singers from India with the discussion led by Ms. Bhavna Rajpal, of the University of Westminister, a speech from Mrs. Deepa Wadhwani, a writer and philanthropist from Ahmedabad, on the topic of the Status of Sindhi Language in India. Ms. Alice Albinia, a British author who wrote a famous book “Empires of Indus,” talked about the importance of preserving the River Indus and the Indus Delta in Sindh. A Sindhi music performance featured legendary Sindhi singer Ustad Rajib Ali and a few local artists of London, who all sang Sindhi Sufi Songs.
At the conclusion of the Conference, the delegates passed with consensus, several resolutions about the human rights situations in Sindh and Pakistan. Conference delegates asked the International community to recognize Sindh’s right to Self-Determination and to influence Pakistan to stop extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances of human rights defenders. The conference also demanded from Pakistan to curb the persecution of Sindhi Hindus and forced conversions of Sindhi Hindus to Islam and to ban Saudi-sponsored religious madrasahs. Conference delegates condemned the ongoing unfair policies to unlawfully take Sindh’s natural resources, land, and water, as well as to regulate the internal migration within Pakistan which is resulting in Sindhis becoming a minority in their homeland. Also, conference delegates univocally questioned the legitimacy of the CPEC projects because it is imposed upon people without their consent or consultation.
About The World Sindhi Congress (WSC): WSC is based in the UK, USA, Canada, and Sindh and is one of the most prominent human rights advocacy organizations for Sindh and Sindhis. The primary objective of WSC is to create a better understanding within the international community about the persecuted status of Sindhis in Pakistan and the Sindhi people’s struggle for human rights, including the right to self-determination. WSC is a registered company in the UK and the USA and is organized to carry out non-profit activities. For more information, visit www.worldsindhicongress.org