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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

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (IANS)

 

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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub
Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.