Karachi’s Pushtun “problem” – By Imran Khan, Pakistan Today
With the World becoming increasingly connected, political correctness in ideas and behavior is becoming essential for minimizing frictions, and for that reason it also is becoming the hallmark of the educated.
We Pakistanis often complain about the lack of “randomness” at airport security checks abroad and go livid at any generalization linking Pakistanis to terrorism, but then sadly, this indignation is reserved for foreign lands only, the same is definitely not displayed within Pakistan. Pick up any mobile phone here, and it is bound to have SMSed jokes with the racist stereotyping of Pathans. While such stereotyping for the sake of humor is at times tolerable, one is simply astonished to find the same to be believed for real. During the recent spate of violence in Karachi, I was shocked to come across a very high proportion of educated Urdu speaking Karachiites who believe the Pashtun ethnicity to be nothing short of a deformity, and the Pashtun influx as a curse for Karachi.
One of the main fears expressed, is that since Pashtuns are more likely to be associated with terrorism and theft, stopping their inflow would naturally result in a more peaceful Karachi. Besides being horrifyingly similar to the “all Pakistanis are terrorists” argument often used by anti immigration groups in the West, this one stoops even lower as it seeks to quarantine fellow Pakistanis on the basis of ethnicity. This argument conveniently ignores the fact that if the profession of gate keeping and driving in Pakistan can be associated with one ethnicity, then it is the Pashtuns. While I am no fan of generalizations, but if one is to be done, then considering typical Pashtun professions shouldn’t the generalization be one of trust, rather than distrust?
Pashtuns are also held responsible for bringing the drugs and Kalashnikov culture into Karachi. This argument completely ignores the well documented planning and financing of the so called “Afghan Jihad”, furthermore, people who say such things basically consider Karachi as an entity separate from Pakistan. The arms and drugs trade was crucial in financing the Jihad, and the inflow of drugs and guns was not something new just for Karachi, it was the same for Peshawar, FATA as well as the rest of Pakistan. Pashtuns as an ethnicity are facing the brunt of that blunder committed by our “strategists” in the 80s. But, to completely ignore that whole episode and blame it on the DNA of an ethnicity would be too ignorant a conclusion. It goes without saying that the response to an increase in violence and drugs is better policing and not racial discrimination.
There also is a ridiculous belief that Pashtuns are somehow incapable of “culturally assimilating” into Karachi, reasons usually given are the inability to speak Urdu and having more conservative norms. To begin with almost all Pakistani Pashtuns are bilingual; it is very rare to find someone in Peshawar who can’t speak Urdu let alone find a Pathan in Karachi who wouldn’t. Furthermore, the norms of the Pashtuns might be considered conservative, but that is if compared with those of the Brazilians. Karachi is no Rio de Janeiro, as testified by the fluttering black burqas on Sea View and Gidani, and also as the former stronghold of Jamaat I Islami, Karachi can never be too liberal for even the most conservative of Pakistanis. Those who consider the Westernized bubbles of Clifton and Defense as the real Karachi are sadly mistaken.
These generalizations mask a worry, which emanates from rising Pashtun numbers in Karachi. Frustrated by wars and lack of economic opportunity, these Pashtuns are heading towards Karachi for a better life. But then, Karachi is not unique in receiving such migrants, just across the border, Mumbai is going through the same. Interestingly, the Urdu/Hindi speaking migrants from Uttar Pradesh, form the bulk of migrations into Mumbai.
Those who are worried about this influx into Karachi, should consider the fact that Karachi used to have a Sindhi majority, a fact that changed after the Mohajir influx. If there was nothing illegitimate about that phenomenon, then assuming no bigotry, there should be no apprehensions about Karachi becoming a Pashtun majority city, because in essence the only difference between an Urdu speaking Mohajir and a Pashtu Speaking Mohajir is that of the date on their train tickets.
Sadly, the expression of this apprehension is not limited to verbal racism, statistics on the ethnicity of the victims show that they are overwhelmingly Pashtun. Mehr Bokhari’s show on the 7th of July, 2011, revealed that in the violence till that point, 80 Pashtuns and 7 Mohajirs were killed.
The irony of the situation is that those who are bent upon declaring the Pashtun as a separate specie, also make a case for victim-hood based on post-partition hostilities doled out to Pakistan’s Mohajir community. It should be obvious that the pre-requisite for claiming a higher moral ground based on those injustices, is not to rationalize the same (if not worse) that is being doled out to Karachi’s new Mohajirs.
The writer is an Islamabad-based development economist. He blogs at iopyne.wordpress.com
Appeared in the Pakistan Today on the 20th of July, 2011.
Excellent article. Discribed the one of the basic problem the whole pukhtoon ethinicity is facing in pakistan; Racisim. Every bad and stupid thing associated with them by the educated and so called civilised nations of pakistan, the MUhajirs and punjabees delibretly through an organiesd way . The contribution and services of pukhtoons to pakistan is more than any oneelse in every walk of life including army, politis , sport, education etc. bulk of pukhtoon population has remaied uneducated not because they are diferent speices but because of state policies. The pakistani state has kept them intentionaly divided nd underdevolpd due fear of thier dominance by adopting dystructive policies in thr land. Due to which they are heading towards more developd areas of the country Karachi nd Pindi-lahore. It shows tht the fault is not in them, it is state policies which are associating the words bad nd stupid to them…………….wel done imran….keep it upppp
Thanks Mr Imran for giving insight on Pushtun issue.
Recently a friend of mine mentioned that Punjabi officers in Pak army increasingly sending Pushtun soldiers on to front lines. Is this factual?
It appears to me, Americans started backing Pushtuns in tribal region and soon they might turn against Pak army. Recent video of 16 officials being killed shows the conflict brewing.
A very good article.
Pshtuns will be welcomed in Karachi only if they own this city. They hate Karachites, ruin this city yet they love to earn from here.
@Tanzeel: A conveniently vague statement spewed by all MQM types. Convenient because it presents the illusion of a “problem.”
Milk it indefinitely.
Totally agree with Tanzeel !
The writer who is ‘development economist’ has cited Meher Bokhari’s programme of 7th July …. she blatantly lied in that particular programme. According to her figures more than 120 lost lives in last three days (5-7 July) and amongst the victims more than 80 were pukhtoons !
I’m quoting below an excerpt from Daily Dawn’s issue of 8th July… which is enough to expose lies of Ms. Mehr Bokhari and hence writer’s bias in citing her to prove his point !
“police and paramilitary troops were ordered on Friday to shoot on sight after 70 people were killed in three days of ethnic and political violence in Karachi.”
Abid Khan how do say “Every bad and stupid thing associated with them by the educated and so called civilised nations of pakistan, the Muhajirs and punjabees deliberatly through an organiesd way .”
The only area which don’t fall under Pakistan’s proper jurisdiction is called FATA which happens to be Pushtuni and they treasure their so called tribal freedoms and view every state offer of development such as education as an attempt to take away those freedoms. If one is to believe your comment that Punjabis and Muhajirs are a rip off, then could you explain why a large part of Sindh and Punjab is under developed and inflicted with misery and poverty? Another impediment to the progress of Pukhtunkhwa is their never stopping inter tribal rivalries which you might like to associte with Punabis and Muhajjirs as well.
I’ve seen KMR eslewhere aslo spewing crap all over the place. Be warned KMR is a filthy rat worshipping Hindu. His absurdity “Punjabi officers sending Pushtun soldiers to fight at the front” as if the command of Frontier Corps is all Punjabi. No mention of fact that quite a few military chiefs of Pakistan army happened to be Pushtuns.
Pashtun businessmen/shopkeepers (big and small), always among the dishonest when it comes to business but NEVER late in their prayers!
Pakhtuns have given their sweat and blood to work on the infrastructure of Karachi. If they are labeled as drug-runners etc., then conveniently the Urdu-speaking can be labelled as mobile-snatchers and extortionists and murderers. I endorse the valid point that in ’47 Karachi faced influx of Urdu-speaking mohajirs and of recent, there has been a spate of Pushtu-speaking Mohajirs. MQM’s stance is weird in that their AWOL so-called leader has been on record demanding that all Punjabis and Pashtuns who emigrate to Karachi must come through a work-permit system. Did Altaf Hussain then also use one when he went to England, not to say it beats imagination if he would have properly earned his livelihood there through toil by working in KFC etc.
Karachi has been held complete hostage by MQM criminals and it’s a well-known fact that all businesses in Karachi have to pah bhatta to the MQM chimps. Hakeem Saeed, the magnanimous benefactor of poor was gunned down by these very criminal elements and bravo, the mastermind is now sitting in Governor’s House! Until the day MQM shuns its policies of random killing and extortionism, peace can never return to karachi.
By the way, if anyone recalls when exactly did Karachi descend into this hellfire of violence. Let me remind you of 1986 when a certain creepy individual was let loose from jail – one who had been caught red-handed burning the flag of Pakistan on Independence Day, and rightly sentenced to 14 lashes by a military court…..the same London KFC guy…
MQM CANT FINSH PASTUNS MQM WILL FINSH SOON…NO ONE HAVE POWER TO FIGHT WITH PASHTUNS ACCEPT GOD.