Confronting injustices – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

There are the many so-called nationalists who allegedly espouse the cause of Sindh. How many of these so-called nationalists succeed in defending Sindhi rights is apparent from the degree of rights Sindh enjoys vis-à-vis Punjab

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurColonisation, like slavery, degrades humans because both deprive them of freedom and the ability to live up to their potential. This degradation continues until slaves and the colonised understand the reality of their situation and begin resisting injustices. Resistance is the only salvation available to them. Rosa Luxemburg said, “Those who do not move do not feel their chains.” They have to move to know they are chained.

Last week, the Sindh finance minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, threatened to block the gas supply to Punjab if Sindh’s due share was not respected. He said that Sindh produces 70 percent of the total gas produced in Pakistan and, under Article 158, has the first right to use it. It seems the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has been in a deep slumber as this injustice has been going on since gas discovery in Sindh. It is only now when the inherently corrupt and privileged establishment has started taking offence at the PPP people taking more than a fair share of the windfall of that corruption, turning a few screws not for the people’s benefit but to increase its share that the Syed Murad Ali Shahs have woken up. Sadly, they will surely sleep again when the pressure eases.

Naseer Memon, the chief executive of the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), in his paper ‘Oil and gas resources and rights of provinces: a case study of Sindh’, says: “Sindh and Balochistan together contribute more than 93 percent of the national gas production and therefore can be considered an energy basket of Pakistan.” To prove that Punjab devours most despite Article 158, he quotes the Pakistan Energy Yearbook 2008 table, which says: “Sindh consumed only 46 percent of its production whereas Balochistan consumed just 25 percent while Punjab utilised a staggering 930 percent against its production in the national output of gas.” Punjab produced 68,608 million cubic feet (MMCF) but utilised 638,008, which was 930 percent more in 2007. This consumption is a lot higher now. Punjab has 2,162 operational CNG stations compared to only 587 in Sindh, the largest producer of natural gas.

The federal government gives 12.5 percent royalty to provinces based on the well head price but there is no policy to ensure that the oil and gas producing talukas/districts enjoy its benefits. The consequence is that “According to the Human Development Report of the UNDP (2003), Badin, the major oil producing district ranked at 60th out of 91 districts in the country. Under the same ranking only three districts of Sindh (including Karachi and Hyderabad) found a place in the top 30 districts of the country on the Human Development Index. The same report placed rural Sindh lowest among all urban and rural areas of all provinces ranked on the Human Development Index.”

The injustice is not only in consumption and utilisation of the profits for the well-being of locals but is also significant in the discriminatory well head prices. Balochistan’s average gas field well head price in rupees per MMBTU is Rs 66.34, for Sindh, it is Rs 142.57 and for Punjab it is Rs 162.93. All arrangements favour Punjab.

Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) also favours Punjab by making others pay for its costs because it has the least gas production and the highest consumption. The scandalous import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar favours Punjab as it carries additional cost for Sindh and Balochistan, which can easily meet their needs from their own production. If Article 158 of the Constitution is applied, except Punjab no other province would require imported LNG. Khaqan Abbasi says commercial gas consumers, including fertilisers and industries, will spend the upcoming winter season without natural gas everywhere except Punjab as it uses LNG. Interestingly, the additional cost of this LNG is paid by other provinces.

Sindh, like Balochistan, is put at a disadvantage in many ways by Islamabad but the response to the injustices and confronting those injustices is quite different. In Balochistan, the people have resisted injustices in the same way that these injustices have been imposed i.e. by force while in Sindh it has been mostly abject surrender or only a token protest because the spineless politicians bent upon preserving their privileges bend over backwards to appease Islamabad and make noise only to keep the semblance of defending Sindh’s interests.

Apart from them there are the many so-called nationalists who allegedly espouse the cause of Sindh. How many of these so-called nationalists succeed in defending Sindhi rights is apparent from the degree of rights Sindh enjoys vis-à-vis Punjab. They obfuscate with their subtle obscurantism of sham nationalism, which dupes people into believing that they indeed champion their cause. An example will illustrate it better. Recently, at the launch of the book Sindh Kahaniain by G M Syed, in Karachi, speaker Syed Ghulam Shah whom the reporter calls an eminent Sindhi nationalist, said that the Sindhis had not just a case against the British, who usurped their land in 1843, but the same case was against the Talpurs, whose rule was the worst in Sindh’s history.

The 60-year Talpur rule, whether good or bad, ended 172 years ago and whatever impact it had then there was enough time to undo or advance it. It is no longer relevant today. What is relevant today is the way Sindh is being usurped by the present day usurpers. Sadly, these nationalists have not a word to say about these injustices or about the 53 percent of Sindh barrage land, which was allotted to non-Sindhis. They come up with criticism of the Talpurs to not only absolve themselves of the responsibility of opposing present day injustices and usurpers but, in the process, exonerate all the usurpers who have deprived Sindh of its rights since 1947.

Because Sindh and Sindhis have pseudo-nationalists/intellectuals who are more concerned about centuries’ old events of the Talpur rule than present day usurpers who deprive them of their resources, lands and rights, as upholders of their rights they will continue to languish under injustices. The so-called upholders of Sindh’s rights and corrupt politicians in fact aid and abet in the plunder, loot and rape of Sindh. Unless injustices are confronted in the way these are imposed there will be no salvation for Sindh and Sindhis. It has to be understood that “Colonialism only loosens its hold when the knife is at its throat” – Frantz Fanon.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at

Courtesy: Daily Times

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