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Unpacking ethnic conflict in Sindh

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KARACHI: Recently the murder of young man Bilal Kaka in Hyderabad has triggered an ugly ethnic tension, threating law and order situation across the province.

Thankfully, so far sanity has prevailed, especially due to timely efforts by the political leaders from both sides, Sindhi and Pashtoon parties, who scrambled to extinguish the fast spreading fire of hatred. Now things are quite under control, but it is not over yet, and can emerge anytime again with a little ignition.

Prevention of such horrible incidents in future requires dispassionate, objective and multi-dimension understanding of the root causes, from where problem stems. Unfortunately, apart from a few academic studies, discussion on ethnic problem in Sindh has been out of the bounds for the media except agenda-driven reporting on sporadic violent events. In that environment, how can we build a consensus about a solution to the problem if we avoiding talking about it?

So, first thing we may attempt is to break with the tradition of downplaying with ethnic conflicts. What generally lie under the menace of ethnic conflicts include chronic bad governance, economic deprivation, perception of one group’s dominance over other, and absence of rule of law. A few of the above factors definitely apply to the situation in Sindh, but largely it is a political rights issue, which is cloaked as ethnic problem.

In case of Bilal’s murder, an inquiry committee has found police the guilty for averting the murder. At the crime scene, police van was standing there at distance of a few feet but they didn’t bother to intervene when brawl begun between restaurant staff and the customer Bilal. It was a criminal negligence on the part of police that just watched the situation like spectators.

In another case, four policemen have been awarded life imprisonment for kidnapping two citizens for ransom in 2017. For decades we have been hearing about various police reforms, but their impact on conduct and performance of police is that they not only fail to protect life and property of the citizen, but also indulge in criminal activities, which is in complete contravention with their duties.

Apart from that, with continuous, unregulated massive influx of immigrants, the political right of permanent residents of Sindh to rule is getting undermined. Since 1947, the immigrants from neighboring countries (India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Burma etc.) as well as different parts of Pakistan have chosen Sindh their destination. Impact of continuous and unregulated massive influx of immigrants over the decades is that in Sindh, population of Sindhi speaking is hovering around 61.1 pc of population in the province.

Among the rest of population include 6 pc foreigners (Afghani, Bangali, Burmese etc), of them many are residing illegally. Under the Census 2017, these foreigners are marked in the category of, “others”. Besides being burden on the limited resources of Sindh, the illegal immigrants pose a security risk to Sindh.

Of late in a response to question during the press conference Chief Minister Sindh expressed his helplessness regarding a plan about dealing with illegal immigrants. He said that controlling the borders is beyond his realm of power. Nowhere in the country, demography has changed so fast to the extent as it has been happening in Sindh. Is it by design or default shouldn’t be difficult to figure out if one observes carefully how Sindh is ruled? – the concerned federal authorities are complacent about it and provincial government expresses helplessness!

When the Government remains aloof, a tug of war among various ethnic groups starts about gaining control over the resources, which at different occasions turn into extreme violence. If the trend of migration continues for another two decades then Sindhi are likely to become minority in their own home. This sense of insecurity has become a permanent source of tension among Sindhi nation who see weakening their political and economic power in Sindh. Sindhi further get scared when they see young man like Bilal killed over minor scuffle.

In terms of political impact, those who are choosing Sindh as a destination are shifting a balance of power in their favor, particularly its capital Karachi. Consequently, perception regarding dominance of people from other provinces in Sindh over Sindhi population is gaining strength, fueling apprehensions that Karachi is being taken over. Hence, terms like, Karachi aur Sindh, Khudmukhtiar (autonomous) Karachi, Saeen Sarkar (sarcastic term referring to Sindhi rulers) are clear indication of what political battles lies ahead in future. PPP, MQM, Jamat-e- Islami, PTI, PSP and others are playing their own ethnic cards to keep opponent parties at bay. Therefore, whenever elections come, ethnic tensions flare up. No wonder, murder of Bilal is also exploited for political gains in the context of upcoming local bodies elections in Karachi.

Last but not the least, constitutionally, there is no bar on Pakistani citizens to go anywhere in the country and purchase property. Specifically, the article 15 and 23 are quite clear about it, the former article pertains to the Freedom of Movement and the latter one relates to Purchase of the property. But since unregulated continuous stream of migrants is strongly felt as an encroachment on economic, social and political rights of indigenous population, both articles must be amended to address genuine concerns of the children of soil. With this constitutional amendment, long term peace and harmony can be accomplished in Sindh.

The writer is an educationist and researcher based in Karachi. He has also worked with British Council Pakistan and other international organizations in Pakistan.

He can reached on email at asgharsoomro@gmail.com

Sindh

Sindh Food Authority inks MoAs with ICCBS to ensure safe, hygienic, healthy food

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KARACHI: Sindh Food Authority (SFA), Government of Sindh, has signed two Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), University of Karachi.

Sindh Food Authority signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Halal Certification Testing and Research Services (HCTRS) and the Industrial Analytical Center (IAC), ICCBS, University of Karachi.

This MoA aims to create a long-term framework of collaboration, cooperation, and development of a strong linkage between SFA and the research centers of the ICCBS for the testing of food products, which is in the interest of both institutions.

The SFA Director General Agha Fakhar Hussain and Prof. Dr. Farzana Shaheen, the Director of the ICCBS, University of Karachi, signed the agreement in a meeting held at the HEJ, Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi on Friday evening.

Among others who attended the meeting were officials from SFA Prof. Dr. Asad Sayyed, Dr. Naveed Bhutto, Dr. Seema, Danish Arshad, and officials from ICCBS, including Prof. Dr. Abid Ali, Prof. Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf, Prof. Dr. Shabana Simjee, Prof. Dr. Asmat Salim, Dr. Imran Malik, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Dr. Shakil Ahmed, Jawaid Riaz, and others.

In his talk, the SFA Director-General praised the efforts made by the ICCBS administration to make this agreement possible in the interest of Sindh province. He also praised the industrial support and national services of the International Center (ICCBS).

He said the authority’s goal was to guarantee that the people of Sindh were fed in a safe, hygienic, and healthy manner by standards.

I want to have strong relations between SFA and the ICCBS, University of Karachi, he said, adding that SFA is trying to make all possible efforts to provide better food items to the people of Sindh.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Farzana Shaheen congratulated the officials of the SFA and ICCBS on the signing of the agreement. She hoped that this agreement would further strengthen the University’s HCTRS and IAC in the province.

Halal Testing Laboratory works to standardize and uplift the high-quality standard of nutrition & hygiene in Halal-certified food & other products by international export quality standards, she said.

Talking about IAC, the director said that IAC was doing their best to meet customer’s testing requirements with integrity, reliability, accuracy, precision of data, and timeliness of reports to achieve customer satisfaction and define specifications in compliance with ISO/IEC Laboratory Accreditation System and ISO 9001Quality Management System.

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DG Sindh Food Authority Agha Fakhar disburses certificates

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KARACHI: Director General of the Sindh Food Authority Agha Fakhar Hussain distributed certificates among the participants at the HEJ, University of Karachi.

The certificates were given away to the participants of the highly prestigious Training Programme over Halal Food and Meat Detection Methods Training and Inter-laboratory Comparison for Organisation of Islamic cooperation (OIC) countries (2022-SMIC-006) held at Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in hybrid format on October 23, 2023. The certificate were signed by the SMIIC General Secretary.  

Prof. Dr. Syed Ghulam Musharraf (Tamgha-e- Imtiaz) and Prof. Dr. Farzana Sheen attended the event.

The SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries) is an intergovernmental and one of the 17 affiliated organizations of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). Its primary focus is on standardization and metrology technical elements.

Pakistani candidates participated through online sessions. The participants were selected through a detailed procedure and tests.

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Sindh Food Authority appoints Dr Rashida Irtifaq as its Ambassador

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KARACHI: The Sindh Food Authority (SFA) is to appoint prominent educationist Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq Ali as Honorary Senior Food Safety and Hygiene Ambassador.

In light of this significant appointment, a ceremony has been scheduled for January 9, 2024 at Jinnah Auditorium Dr AQ Khan Institute of Bio-Technology and Genetic Engineering, University of Karachi.

Caretaker Chief Minister Sindh Justice (R) Maqbool Baqar, Secretary Food, Government of Sindh and other dignitaries will attend the event to support the vision of the Sindh Food Authority.

Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq Ali has been an integral part of Karachi University for the past fifty years where she not only fulfilled her teaching responsibilities but also played a pivotal role in establishing the Department of Food Sciences and Technology.

At the age of 85, Dr Rashida Ali continues to serve in academia and the industry, demonstrating an unparalleled commitment to education.

While talking to Sindhnews, Sindh Food Authority’s Director General Agha Fakhar Hussain said that the food authority had recognized contributions of Professor Dr Rashida Irtifaq by appointing her as the Honorary Senior Food Safety and Hygiene Ambassador, a position that reflects her expertise and dedication to the field.

The appointment of Dr Rashida Irtifaq will not only acknowledge her achievements but will also provide an opportunity to raise awareness among university students about the principles of health preservation related to food consumption.

In the event, Dr Rashida Irtifaq will also be presented with a shield by the Sindh Food Authority as a token of appreciation for her outstanding contributions, says Agha Fakhar.

The Sindh Food Authority was established in April 2018 under the SFA Act 2016 and the Authority has been established Under Section-3 (1) of the Act ibid with the mandate to provide safe, hygienic and health food to the people of Sindh, he adds.

The Authority is performing its functions accordingly as per the Sindh Food Authority Act 2016 but the major hurdle is the lack of awareness among general masses and food handlers at large, regarding the food safety and hygiene principles.

The authority’s mandate to provide safe, healthy and hygienic food to the people of Sindh can not only be achieved witht eh coercive measures but it requires general awareness campaign among the masses and food handlers and the issue demands the participation of all segments of the society, the DG concluded.

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