Earlier this year, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zaradari toured Sindh, promising an end to the tribal violence. Just weeks later, Upper Sindh witnessed two gruesome murders, allegedly at the hands of PPP lawmakers and their families.
A 2020 police report published in daily Dawn said tribal feuds killed over 100 people were in upper Sindh over the past few years. Human rights activists say that the provincial government and local law enforcement agencies have failed to tackle tribal feuds in northern Sindh.
Human rights activists and analysts describe tribal conflicts in northern Sindh as a serious law and order issue. In May 2021 nine people were murdered during a tribal clash between the Chachar and Sabzoi communities in Kashmore, Sindh. The police said the clash was triggered by stolen livestock. Such incidences of violence and kidnappings are particularly common in parts of upper Sindh that borders Balochistan.
Bilawal Bhutto Speaks for Sindh
It is the duty of PPP lawmakers that represent the concerned districts in Sindh to facilitate and encourage peaceful resolution of disputes. Lawmakers and government officials should not patronise jirgas and warring tribes.
Recently, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was in Larkana. He visited every union council and neighbourhood. He tried to form a connection with the masses, especially the working class, women, students, elderly and the youth. Bilawal Bhutto’s visit reminded the people of Larkana about his grandfather Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and how he visited every nook and cranny of Larkana.
Bilawal Bhutto’s mother, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was also successful in galvanising the people of Larkana. Like his mother, through his tour and speeches, Bilawal Bhutto also galvanised and motivated them in the interest of civilian supremacy and democratic mode of politics.
Bilawal Bhutto’s decision to visit the Union Councils and neighbourhoods instead of inviting some select party leaders over to the Naudero house for political meetings was a wise decision.
He reached out to the people in open public gatherings in Shaikh Zaid Colony, Murad Wahan Mohalla, Garibabad Mohala, and Nazar Mohalla.
All this led to renewed faith in the PPP leadership. But this was temporary.
Horrifying Turn of Events
Earlier this month, the murder of Fahmida Siyal shook that faith in PPP. The murder took place in Khaipur Josu village in Larkana, allegedly over a property dispute. The man being tried for the murder, Shaheed Hussain Isran, is the father of PPP MPA (Member of Provincial Assembly) Ganwer Isran.
He has been granted a 7-day protective bail. This incident destroyed the vulnerable image of the party’s leadership working to win public trust.
Next came an incident on Nov 3 in which PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim, PPP MPA Jam Owais, and 10 others allegedly kidnapped and tortured to death one Nazim Jokhio, a father of four. The torture took place at the Malir farmhouse of Jam Owais. The reason these powerful men kidnapped and tortured Nazim Jokhio was because he dared to film that Jam Awais’s foreign guests were illegally hunting Houbara Bustards near Thatta’s Dabeji area.
These incidents reinforced the deep-rooted hypocrisy lies at the centre of nouveau riche political elite in Sindh. The term ‘political elite’ is being used here for lack of a better term, the right terms would rather be the criminals, eco-terrorists, racketeers, outlaws, bandits, crooks and robbers. These people are bereft of conscience. They do not know how to behave like normal human beings, let alone public representatives. The people of upper Sindh have the right to the rule of law above, not the law of the jungle.
Failing Justice System
One consequence of the justice system failing to deliver is that aggrieved people resort to waderas [landed elite] to settle their disputes. Jirgas are commonly held in the area. During these jirgas, tribal Sardars and other influential people settling disputes that should legally be decided in courts of law.
The law has lost its grip on some parts of upper Sindh to such an extent that there are practically no-go areas for citizens. Unfortunate consequences await those who venture into the ‘wrong’ zone.
Disputes that lead to violence, have been triggered by age old disputes such as access to water and land. So-called ‘honour’ and matrimonial issues have also caused war between clans. In some instances, even seemingly minor issues such as cattle theft and scuffles between children has led to big conflicts.
Once a clash occurs between two tribes, no members of the warring clans can move freely. Looking after their crops means risking being murdered by opponent tribesmen. This often leads to financial problems for both tribes. As a consequence, men from these tribes feel forced to turn to crime in order to feed their families. There are rumours that members of warring tribes have become notorious dacoits after developing links with the criminal underworld.
Concerns for the Youth
At the end of the day, it is the children of the quarrelling clans who suffer the most. They are kept from attending schools due to safety and financial concerns, and they grow up illiterate. In the upper part of Sindh, Kashmore has seen the highest number of bloody clashes. Interestingly, the district also has the lowest literacy rate in the province – 60 per cent of the region is illiterate.
In order to maintain power and control in their areas, waderas maintain a flow of weapons into these lands. Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers appear on young shoulders too often.
Although it is not difficult for chieftains to end these clashes, they are least bothered. This is because these disputes keep people dependent on their Sardars and chieftains. Unless the weapons stop flowing in these areas, and power is not snatched from those who are bent on abusing it, the bloodshed will not stop.