30 Oct 17/Monday    

“The intelligence agencies treat the critics of CPEC as their enemies,” says G M Bhagat, an Umerkot-based writer and researcher, a prominent figure in Sindh.

“Those who even whisper against CPEC are either kidnapped or killed.”

Bhagat himself has been picked up four times by Pak intelligence agencies between the 1990s and 2006. When he was last taken away, he spent a whole year in their illegal custody at an unknown place.

The other known reason why many Sindhi nationalists have gone missing is their alleged or actual involvement in anti-state activities such as burning of Pakistan’s flag, an allegation that is said to be behind the September 25, 2014 disappearance of a JSQM activist, Waheed Lashari, from Larkana. He was later found dead in Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi, on November 27 that year.

These incidents may have some connection with the Pakistan Army too. An affidavit signed recently by a large group of Sindhi nationalists renouncing their political ideology ends on “Pakistan Zindabad, Pak Fauj  Zindabad”. It reads like an oath of allegiance: “We vow to be faithful to Pakistan. It is our country and we … will more than eagerly take part in its progress.”

Real or suspected links with the JSMM – a government-declared terrorist organisation that wants Sindh to become an independent state and that has accepted responsibility for a number of terror attacks in the province in recent years – ranks at the top of the list of reasons for the missing persons phenomenon. Many of the disappeared are known to have been warned during captivity: end links with the JSMM or else be prepared to face the music.

Zakir Bozdar paid the ultimate price for ignoring this warning. Associated with the JSMM, he first disappeared in May 2012 but came back home five months later. In December 2016, he disappeared again never to return. Five days later, his body was found in his native Ghotki district.

Juman Darbadar, a very popular Sindhi language poet from Umerkot, joined the Jeay Sindh movement in 1978 as a young man and became quite close to its founder G M Syed. He soon wrote a poem that is regarded as Sindi nationalism’s anthem: “Wathi har har janam warbo, mitha Mehran mein milbo (We will be born again and again until, my sweetheart, we meet in our own land of Mehran)”. Sung by many popular Sindhi singers and used as a rallying cry for various Sindhi nationalist groups, the first couplet of this poem is inscribed at the entrance to Syed’s mausoleum in Sann. This remains the guiding spirit of various Sindhi organisations demanding autonomy of  Sindh(Pakistan).