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Exclusive: Interview with Shafi Burfat, JSMM Chairman fighting for Sindh separation

Shiva is the shakti of Sindh and Sufi is the faith, says Safi Burfat of JSSM

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Perspective |Standpoint | Approach

These words can stand dull on a piece of paper but they hold more meaning than they are credited for. There’s a fine line between understanding and agreeing. You may not agree with somebody’s take on things but if you’ve never really looked from his point of view, climbed under his skin and walked around in it, you will never understand his opinions.

My interview (Reporter Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram) with Shafi Burfat has a lot to do with this perception. Shafi Muhammad Burfat is the chairman of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz, founder of a separatist and liberal political party, a leader, an activist and a man with an imposed ban stamped on his name for his alleged separatist’s actions against Pakistan.

The nationalist leader has formed the group for one sole motive- freedom of his beloved Sindh. He’s been fighting for the cause actively since 2000 and seems to have left no stone unturned in this struggle.

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Buttoned up collar and a stack of books in the background; a set up in Germany complementing his strong persona, our Skype interview began with answering the What if’s. When questioned about Sindh, without catching his breath, there was a full outcry against the August 15, 1947, separation.

Shafi Burfat: There should have been no separation based on religion in the first place. It was a mistake committed by the then Indian political leadership, a blunder for which we are still suffering. In my opinion, history betrayed us; a Modi should have been born in place of Gandhi ji to stop this unnatural division. A division even the Hindu- Muslims stood strongly against. Secondly, Jinnah, he was no leader, he was a servant of the British headship and this division was a conspiracy where he was used as a pawn by the Britishers to act their will. The man didn’t see the walls of a jail for an hour and in return, he made a new country! 

In midst of the controversial statements thrown now and again, there was nothing that broke some ground. The leader of the JSMM party (an organisation termed as a terrorist group like the many other independent fervent groups formed in Pakistan) agreed with brotherhood and detested the separation. Narrowing down to Sindhi’s, Sindhudesh and their secular fight against the regime, he adds.

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Shafi Burfat: We hold no difference between a Hindu and a Muslim because we aren’t either of the two. We are Sindhi’s. Our Sindhudesh was surviving as a free nation since thousands of years and then came the division that strangled us with a noose around our necks. Many Indians won’t know this but it’s a fact that many of the ancient Vedas and scripts like the Rigveda were written near the banks of the Sindhu River. Such was the nature of our country but today there are extra-judicial killings of Sindhi Political Activists. We are a different sect; freedom is our right and ‘hum wo leke rahenge.’ (No one can deny us our freedom). 

At the expensive of coming across as a man with evident animosity towards Pakistan to support his fervor and passion for a single political cause, he expressed his repulsion.

Shafi Burfat: Pakistan today, after 1971 (referring to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War) is not the Jinnah regime Pakistan or simply the country Pakistan. It’s a capture; capture of two things. There are the G3 guns of Punjab force on one side and on the other side there are Mullah’s with fatwa’s who only know how to shed blood in the name of humanity. JSMM is against Pakistan politically and historically due to its badge of terrorism.

Every leader has his own perception about his struggle and the future of it. In this case, the Sindh movement, which has been a matter of great concern in Pakistan for last 45 years, is perceived to be the next Balochistan in the eyes of media. Sharif Burfat puts his vision in words.

Shafi Burfat: Modi’s recent speeches in favor of the Balochistan conflict compels me to convey my message to all your readers, Indian media, to the intellects, political leaders and policy makers of India. Give Sindh the political and moral support it needs, establish Sindh as a separate entity and we’ll do the breaking. There is no need for an external force, no need for military intervention by India to do the striking. Adding to that, years back G.M.Syed during his India tour and then during the Geneva conference too had warned the Indian political leadership against radical Islamists and asked for a separate national identity for Sindh. The then Indian leaders, I assume didn’t grasp his words till the time the Mumbai attacks took place, it’s only now that they have woken up. Therefore, I say that ideologically we have already defeated Pakistan; it’s the political support we ask for. 

Protests against CPEC.
Protests against CPEC (China-Pak Economic Corridor)

A lot of readers will not stand in vein with his fanatics and hold opinions that will state otherwise. But Perspective. Wikipedia doesn’t always nail it right but it defines perspective correctly, one’s personal opinion about an issue. Sharif Burfat continues to spread his message regionally and internationally through various media outlets and social networking sites.

Currently, he’s fighting against CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor), the $46-billion project that displaces thousands of people without a proper plan of rehabilitation or providing any compensation. He considers Sindh and Hind to be a single unit (while referring to the Indian national anthem) and looks forward to receiving equal support for JSMM’s struggle for Sindhudesh as one sees for Balochistan.

Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

  • Asad Saber Janjua

    OMG! Indian media pretends to go berserk while trying to sell patriotism dish to Indians cooked in anti-Pak sentiment spicy broth. THEY COMPETE WITH EACH OTHER BECOMING CRAZIER THAN OTHER IN PRETEND RAGE.

Next Story

Pakistan Increases Efforts To Save The U.S.-Afghanistan Peace Talks

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington.

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Imran Khan, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Imran going around world begging for funds: Sindh CM, VOA

Pakistan has intensified efforts to keep the U.S.-led dialogue with the Afghan Taliban on track, but official sources in Islamabad maintain the responsibility for the “success or failure” of the fledgling peace process rests “exclusively” with the two negotiating sides.

The caution comes as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, landed in the Pakistani capital Thursday amid expectations a direct meeting could take place between his delegation and Taliban negotiators during his stay in the country.

Prior to his departure Wednesday from Kabul, Khalilzad told reporters that talks with the Taliban will “happen very soon. That’s what we’re working toward.” He did not elaborate further.

Meanwhile, in a significant move, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani telephoned Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday and discussed the efforts being made for bringing peace to Afghanistan.

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U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led their respective delegations in talks in Islamabad, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khan’s office said in a statement that Ghani expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s “sincere facilitation” for Afghan peace and reconciliation.

It said the prime minister “assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility.”

Official sources in Islamabad expected “important developments” over the next two days but they would not share further details. “There is no room for missed opportunities” under the circumstances, they insisted.

Pakistani officials maintain in background interviews with VOA that the U.S.-Taliban talks are being facilitated in the hope that they would ultimately lead to an intra-Afghan dialogue for political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. All sides in the peace process will share “the credit and benefits of a success,” they insisted.

“Similarly, given sincere desire and efforts of everyone, no one should be exclusively blamed if the main interlocutors fail to agree due to own lack of flexibility that is very much required from both the U.S. and the Taliban at this stage,” a senior official privy to the Pakistani peace diplomacy told VOA.

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U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan where he briefed Ghani and other top officials of Afghan government on the U.S.-led peace initiative.

The Taliban has held several meetings with Khalilzad’s team in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates but the insurgents have persistently refused to engage directly with the sitting administration in Kabul. Their refusal is blamed for a lack of progress in negotiations that started last summer, after American diplomats gave in to a major Taliban demand and met them directly.

Khalilzad, however, made it clear on Wednesday the insurgent group would have to engage with the Afghan government for the process to move forward.

“The road to peace will require the Taliban to sit with the Afghan government. There is a consensus among all the regional partners on this point,” the Afghan-born U.S. special envoy told reporters in Kabul.

He went on to warn that if the Taliban chose to fight over peace talks, the United States would support the Afghan government.

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A general view of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar, May 2, 2015, site of several past negotioations with the Taliban. VOA

The Taliban threatened earlier in the week to pull out of all negotiations if the United States backed away from discussing the key insurgent demand for a troop withdrawal plan and pressured the insurgents into speaking to the Afghan government.

Diplomats privy to the peace process support the U.S. effort for the Taliban to speak directly to the current administration in Kabul to resolve internal Afghan matters. They see the Ghani-led National Unity government as a “legitimate” entity possessing official representation at the United Nations and maintaining diplomatic missions in world capitals.

The last substantial talks between Khalilzad and Taliban officials took place in Abu Dhabi about a month ago and Pakistan took credit for arranging it and bringing an authoritative team of insurgent negotiators to the table.

Officials in Islamabad say that Pakistan’s “biggest contribution” has been that it has “broken the political stalemate that was there in Afghanistan for several years.”

Prime Minister Khan has repeatedly stated that finding a political settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan is a top foreign policy priority for his government. While speaking to Khan on Thursday, Ghani invited him to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience and the Pakistani leader reciprocated by inviting the Afghan president to visit Islamabad.

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U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. VOA

Pakistan has long been accused of sheltering Taliban leaders and covertly helping them orchestrate insurgent attacks, charges Islamabad rejects.

U.S. officials, however, acknowledge the “positive role” Pakistan has played in the current Afghan peace effort. The thaw in traditionally mistrusted bilateral ties was visible earlier this month when U.S. President Donald Trump announced he intended to maintain a “great relationship” with Pakistan.

Also Read: Peace Talks With The U.S. Stalled: Taliban

“So, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future,” said Trump.

Islamabad swiftly welcomed the remarks, which raised official expectations in Pakistan for an official invitation to Prime Minister Khan to visit Washington, though the Trump administration has so far given no such indication. (VOA)