In Mehrauli, the Khattars insisted that after noting down the damage, in lakhs, that the blasts caused to their shops, the second most important detail was that they were from Dera Ghazi Khan.
Dera Ghazi Khan? Oh, in Multan you know, we are all from there, 300 families. Yes, yes, after Partition, in the Sarai area of Mehrauli, we’ve always lived here, forever…
And then I see the subject line of a thread on a Sindhi mailing list: “Capital be shifted from Islamabad to Deira Ghazi Khan/ Bahawalpur/ Raheemyar Khan.”
That takes the daylights out of me. Over here, people in Mehrauli who still identify themselves with Dera Ghazi Khan more than with Mehrauli, are busy with their own identity politics. “The bikers who did this,” said one LD Hans, “if there was some traffic they would have been stuck and we wouldn’t have spared them. Is area ka toh naam hi itna badnaam hain!”
“No, no, there ain’t any goondas here. But we are kattar Hindus. BJP voters,” he said.
“Even in our sleep we would vote for the BJP,” added another.
This was at the start of the Sarai market, just after the Auliya masjid and the Jahaz Mahal – the ‘Muslim area’.
How are the relations here?
“It was all okay until now.”
“How do you know they did this? Impossible!” intervened a saner voice. ‘They’ being the neigbouring Muslims. Then someone starting telling me about the Phoolwalon ki Ser, Walk of the Flower Sellers, and LD Hans switched off.
And then I read this conversation on a mailing list called Sindhorg, meant for the “Development and Awareness” of Sindh. Someone thinks Islamabad is a bad idea for a national capital, and Dera Ghazi Khan is one of the options. Ha! Had it not been for this, Dera Ghazi Khan would just have been another place, in my mind, where Partition refugees came from. Just like Mehrauli’s migrant Muslims could well be…
The mirror that the other shows you is never a dull one. Dera Ghazi Khan could be any place in northern Southasia, and the identity conflicts reflected in the exchange below don’t seem unfamiliar. Enjoy.
From: Ayaz L P
Subject: [sindhmedia] Capital be shifted from Islamabad to Deira Ghazi Khan/ Bahawalpur/ Raheemyar Khan
Date: Wednesday, 24 September, 2008, 1:25 PM
Capital be shifted from Islamabad to Dera Ghazi Khan / Bahawalpur or Raheemyar Khan
Pakistan is in a precarious position at the moment. At this crossroad of our history, keeping an eye on the various religious groups,conflicting interests of local and international agencies, various militant groups, divided tribal loyalties, a struggling economy, an apparently reasonably aware but weaker civic culture, a nominal democracy contrasted with militant tribes, as inside observers all we can say is it looks like an incredible mess.
In this catastrophic condition I have following four suggestion for all of you and for all the rulers (PPP, PML-N, ANP, JUI & MQM) and for the civil society of Pakistan. I think after the Marriot blast and continuing insurgency in NWFP & tribal areas it is high time when we should address the fundamental questions.
1. To save the diplomatic missions, parliament, Supreme Court and other national institutions and to provide the direct access to all tolerant, liberal and peaceful people of Pakistan the capital should be shifted from Islamabad to Dera Ghazi Khan or Bahawalpur or Raheem Yar Khan. These three cities of Seraiki belt of Punjab are natural hub and focal points of the entire Pakistan. These three cities are encircled by Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwah and Major cities of all the four provinces like Sukkur, Jacobabad of Sindh, Sui & Loralai of Balochistan, Multan and Dera Ismail Khan are situated within a radius of 250 kilometers.
2. Keeping in view the allegation of the international powers that our law enforcing agencies have been infiltrated by extremists, the new recruitment in armed forces should be made from religiously tolerant indigenous Sindhis, Seraikis and Balochs. The major share in key posts, secretary-ships and senior policy making positions of federal govt and investigating agencies should also be given to Sindhis, Seraikis and Balochs.
3. At least half or 1/3rd of the NATO forces of Pak-Afghan border and Afghanistan be replaced with Peace Forces of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Nigeria, Egypt, Malaysia, Libya, Indonesia, Bangladesh and other Islamic Countries.
4- Cross-border attacks and bombing on civilian population in NWFP, FATA and Balochistan be stopped at once and a national peace and disaster management policy be formulated in consultation with all political parties, lawyers and civil society representatives and the independent judiciary be restored.
Ayaz Latif Palijo Advocate
Forum for Rights Justice & Peace (FRJP)
Addr: B-48, Prince Town, Qasimabad, Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan
From: noutak baloch
Sent: 24 September, 2008 10:31 PM
Dear Saeen: If you shift capital on the summit of K2 the ISI will be there. The problem is not the location. The problem is with Punjab which is not ready to accept a Sindhi President. It happened before and there is danger it may not happen again. You can see that all the cannons are pointed on Zardari. There is a smear campaign launched by Chaudhries, religious leaders, intellectuals like Tariq Ali, Imran Khan, media and collumnists against Asif Ali Zardari.
They want to pave the way for another coup d’etat.
Marriot blast is a bad omen for deomcracy.
Date: Thursday, 25 September, 2008, 10:06 PM
Stunning Mr. Ameeri. So Punjab is not ready to accept a Sindhi president? Please don’t turn everything into a racial contest. Punjab is the reason why Pakistan had its first Sindhi prime minister. Punjab again overwhelmingly elected Benazir Bhutto in 1988, and again in the 1990s. If Zadari is being criticized, it is the same legitimate crticism that even educated Sindhis are making against Mr. Zardari, who does have a past that anyone with some conscience will be alarmed about regardless of whether Mr. Zardari is a Sindhi or anything else. Please don’t become racist in the same way that some MQM people are. Criticism of Mr. Zardari has nothing to do with his being Sindhi. I am not a Sindhi-speaking person but I will salute any president or prime minister from sindh. I, for example, disagree with most policies of ZAB but I am proud that he was the prime minister of my country, that he was articulate and that he he started our nuclear program. His hanging had nothing to do with him being from Sindh. He would have been hanged even if he was from Punjab, or Balochistan or anywhere else. Nawaz Sharif from Punjab was also expected to be hanged if President Musharraf’s soft side didn’t prevail. So please don’t turn everything into a racist matter.
From: noutak baloch
Sent: 28 September, 2008 11:59 PM
Thanks God that Nawaz Sharif is from Punjab other wise his fate was not better than Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Punjab gave four dead bodies to Sindh. Now there is a danger that they should not send Zardari to join BB in heaven.
God save Zardari from his enemies!
From: PakNationalists <info.aq.com@ gmail.com>
Date: Tuesday, 30 September, 2008, 5:58 AM
Having someone like Zardari is not an honor for anyone, not for Sindh and not for Pakistan.
From: noutak baloch
Sent: 30 September, 2008 12:44 PM
Problem is not Zardari. Problem is your Punjabi mind set. if Sindh gives you an angel you will never accept him/her.
He came from ballot box not from the barrel of the gun like Zia and Musharraf. you saluted them because they were not Sindhis. From day one you have started a smear campaign against Zardari. This is your obsession and grudge which has no remedy.
From: PakNationalists <email@example.com>
Date: Tuesday, 30 September, 2008, 11:03 PM
just to show you that the real problem is your own racist mindset, I am not Punjabi, although I have no problem in being one. I am a Pashto-speaking Pakhtoon, and every bit pround of being a Pakistani Pakhtoon. And I really don’t care if Mr. Zardari has come through the ballot. In UK and US, someone like him could never be elected. Even in Pakistan he couldn’t. It is thanks to Washington which intervened to clean the criminal record of Benazir and Asif that he is a President today. It is a shame for all democracy-loving people to have these criminals and goons in power. For people like you who cannot sustain a civilized discussion without resorting to racism is a sad reflection on your own state of mind.
From: noutak baloch
Sent: Sat, Oct 4, 2008 at 4:39 PM
Pakhtuns are our brothers. Baloch, Pakhtuns, and Sindhis are suffering equally under Punjabi military rule.
If you are a real Pakhtun then you can see what happened yesterday an attempt on Afrasiab Wali Khan’s life. You remember the great Pakhtun leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan who fought the freedom struggle against British rule. Punjabi rulers kept him in jail for life. What is happening today in Pakhtunkhwa. Innocent Pakhtun women and children are being bombarded in pretext of war on terror.
Instead of naming me a ‘racist’ you must open your eyes and see around you the bloodshed of your people.
I want to go to Dera Ghazi Khan, the capital of someone’s version of Pakistani nationalism.