The World Sindhi Congress (WSC) hosted a conference titled ‘Erosion of Sindhi Culture in Pakistan’ at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 6.
Among the participants were Rubina Greenwood, President, WSC, Lakhu Luhana, Vice President , Ms. Viorica Dancila, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Paulo Casaca , Executive Director, South Asia Democratic Forum, Brussels.
Ms. Rubina Greenwood opened the conference with reference to the February 2017 terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalist forces on the Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan in Sindh province of Pakistan.
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She stated that the attack on the shrine, which killed at least 80 people, was a severe blow to Sindhi culture that prided itself for its secular and tolerant heritage. She charged Pakistan of systematically eradicating Sindhis, who were once in majority in the province of Sindh but now constituted a mere 6-8 percent of the total population.
She lamented that Sindhi culture that had evolved from an amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic traditions had been invalidated by the Pakistani government, specially with the widespread establishment of madrasahs that encouraged the spread radicalism.
Paulo Casaca in his presentation spoke of Sindh’s rich heritage, with deep links to the Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s oldest. He expressed concern that Sindh’s vibrant culture was facing extinction due to growing intolerance and a general sense of apathy towards various communities and religious groups by the Sunni Muslim and Punjabi dominated majority. He also stated that the government of Pakistan had failed to act and take measures for the strict implementation of the universal human rights guidelines, in spite of formally adopting these guidelines.
Viorica Dancila, MEP in her speech touched upon the decay of the education system in Sindh and the problem of gender inequality. She held Pakistan responsible for perpetrating human rights violation against the ethnic communities by preventing individuals from these communities from following their own culture. In this context , she touched upon how the neglect of Sindh’s education system had resulted in the erosion of Sindhi language.
Lakhu Luhana also spoke on the cultural genocide in Sindh, citing Article 7 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of indigenous people. He called for an end to this genocide and pressed for the need to respect Sindh’s land, its natural resources and values.
All speakers called on the international community to pay attention to this serious human rights violation against the Sindhi people who were faced with a threat to their very identity in Pakistan.