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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Political leaders call for peace amid ethnic dispute in Sindh

While condemning violence, political leaders added that all ethnicities should be free to do business all over the country. They urged Sindhis and Pashtuns to maintain peaceful ties and show restraint.

Sindh is currently witnessing a rise in ethnic disputes as Pashtun hotels and shops get attacked and forcefully closed by alleged Sindhi nationalists. Political leaders are calling for peace, urging people to remain calm.

Several political parties, including JI, MQM-Pakistan, Awami National Party, and nationalist leaders Jalal Mehmood Shah and Ayaz Latif Palijo issued statements, urging both Sindhis and Pashtuns to demonstrate restraint. They also demanded the government take prompt action to defuse the tensions.

While condemning violence, their statements added that all ethnicities should be free to do business all over the country. Meanwhile, Sindh United Party Chairman Jalal Mehmood Shah said Sindhis consider Pashtuns their brothers and they have no objection to their businesses in the province.

Read more: Afghanistan’s ethnic diversity and power struggle

Other political leaders and members of the journalistic community condemned the murder and urged Sindhis and Pashtuns to maintain peaceful ties while criticizing PPP – which is the ruling party in Sindh – for remaining silent on the matter.

“Ethnic victimization of poor Pashtuns in Sindh is highly condemnable and dangerous. The silence of Bilawal and PPP-loving media is despicable. Pakistan is for everyone, those trying to play dirty politics over ethnic lines should be ashamed and so should be the ones staying silent,” KP Minister Faisal Amin Khan tweeted.

“An individual’s crime of committing murder cannot be used as a reason to attack Pashtuns collectively. We understand those inciting hatred against Pashtuns in Sindh do not represent the majority. We hope Sindhi leaders will stand against racism,” MNA Mohsin Dawar tweeted.

Tensions in Sindh

To clarify, a young man, named Bilal Kaka, was tortured and shot dead during a fight at a restaurant near Hyderabad bypass during Eidul Adha. Reports in local media said the hotel owners of Afghan origins allegedly shot dead Bilal Kaka and injured his two friends after a dispute over a food bill at the Super Salateen Hotel near Wadhu Wah – one of the most popular areas in Hyderabad.

Furthermore, videos of the incident on social media showed that the police stood by and did not intervene in the brawl. The police indifference has sparked outrage and Sindhi nationalists have become charged.

Read more: Why religious and ethnic intolerance threatens to spin out of control?

Dozens of men riding motorbikes forced shops of Pashto and Persian-speaking people to close. Sindhi nationalist workers took to the streets in Larkana, Dadu, Khairpur, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Tando Muhammad Khan, Noushehro Feroze, and other districts as well, condemning the killing of Bilal Kaka, who was a local office-bearer of Pak Sarzameen Party.

Tensions are high in Sindh as social media reports claim that Pashtuns are also retaliating against the harassment and forceful closure of shops by Sindhi nationalists. For instance, armed men on motorbikes attacked three hotels in Kotri. In retaliation, the owners pelted stones leaving two men, identified as Uzair Soomro and Sadaqat Ali, injured.

As a result, Sindhi supporters are demanding that Afghans return to their country i.e. Afghanistan. Scuffles are also breaking out between Pashtuns and Sindhis, resulting in injuries.