Proposed flag of Sindhudesh used by various separatist organizations.
Banner supporting the Sindhudesh movement in the city of Shikarpur.

The Sindhudesh Movement[1] is a separatist movement, based in Sindh, Pakistan, seeking to create a homeland for Sindhis by establishing an ethnic state called Sindhudesh (Sindhi: سنڌو ديش, lit.'Country of Sindhis'),[2][3][4] which would be either autonomous within Pakistan[5] or independent from it.[6][7]

The movement was founded by G. M. Syed, after Bangladesh's independence. He gave a new direction to Sindhi nationalism, founded the Jeay Sindh Tehreek in 1972 and presented the idea of Sindhudesh.[8][9] Sindhi nationalists sometimes claims the Kutch region of India, the Lasbela District of Balochistan, and sometimes southern Punjab (particularly the Saraiki speaking regions.)[10]

Sindhi separatists reject the parliamentary path of struggle for attaining freedom and rights.[11] No Sindhi nationalist party has been ever voted into power in Sindh at any level of government.[12][13] In recent years, several Sindhi nationalists have deserted the ideology and joined mainstream politics due to disillusionment within ranks, lack of public support, and crackdowns by law enforcement agencies.[14] Some nationalist parties and associations are banned for alleged "terrorist, anti-state and sabotage" activities by the Pakistani government.[15]

History and Diaspora

Historical Kingdom

Main article: Sindhu Kingdom

According to the epic Mahabharata, Sindhudesh, translated as the Sindhu Kingdom, was the ancient name for modern Sindh.[16]

History of the Movement

In 1972 G. M. Syed proposed the formation of an independent nation for the Sindhis under the name Sindhudesh. He was the first nationalist politician in Pakistan to call for the independence of Sindh in a Pakistan.[9] The movement for Sindhi language and identity led by Syed drew inspiration from the Bengali language movement.[17] In post independence Pakistan, the strategy followed by the Pakistani state led Syed to come to a conclusion that the Sindhis would not be given due importance in the country.[9]

With his political base largely weakened after election, Syed later advanced his position towards openly demanding separation from Pakistan and the build-up of an independent Sindhudesh in his books Heenyar Pakistan khey tuttan khappey (Now Pakistan Should Disintegrate) and Sindhu Desh — A Nation in Chains.[18]

Reemergence of Sindhi Nationalism

After the assassination of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, ethnic unrest arose. Sindhi nationalists judged the country was being used to the advantage of people from non-Sindhi ethnic groups, alleged Punjabi dominance in the defence sector.[19] and believe this to be the cause of recent troubles in Sindh (see Sindhi nationalism).[20]

Sindhis in India

Main articles: Sindhis in India, Sindhi Hindus, and Sindhi diaspora

Sindhis in India,[21] most of whom had to be relocated out of Sindh after Partition, leaving behind their property as evacuee trusts under reciprocal government supervision.[citation needed] After the Partition of India, the majority of the minority Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan migrated to India, while the Muslim migrants from India settled down in Pakistan. Approximately 10 million Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, while nearly an equal number of Muslims migrated to newly created Pakistan from India. Hindu Sindhis were expected to stay in Sindh following the partition, as there were good relations between Hindu and Muslim Sindhis. At the time of partition there were 1,400,000 Hindu Sindhis, though most were concentrated in cities such as Hyderabad, Karachi, Shikarpur, and Sukkur.[22][23][24]

The concept of Sindhudesh is often also supported by Indian Sindhis[citation needed] most of whom want to return to their native homeland Sindh while retaining their lives in India.[22][25] Suggestions for a Sindhi political party India as an ethnic empowerment movement[26] for the largest minority group in Gujarat and Maharashtra included proposals of separatism and a higher degree of autonomy within the Sindhi community in India.[citation needed] Proposed by prominent individuals Participating in the Chetichand celebration within the Sindhi community in Ahmedabad such as at the time Chief Minister (14th Prime minister of India), Shri Narendra Modi.[27] Narendra Modi, in his speech gave an example of the Jewish acquisition of Jerusalem and suggested "If those who dream have strength, everything is possible" [27] The Gandhian carnival at Delhi's doorsteps won pan-Indian support for Sindhudesh.[28]

The concept of Sindhudesh is also supported by some Sindhi diaspora[citation needed] including Sindhis in India,[29][30] most of whom had to be relocated out of Sindh after Partition,[31] leaving behind their property as evacuee trusts under reciprocal government supervision. Pre-partition, Sindh was a relative peaceful province, with communal violence only erupting sporadically and during partition.[citation needed] This peace stopped after partition, with post-partition migrants to Sindh angry at the "non-co-operation" in the killing of Hindus; and communal hatred multiplied post partition.[32][33] according to a Sindhi nationalist organisation "The only backdrop for Sindhudesh movement has been the absence of national capitalist because of the migration of Sindhi Hindus from Sindh to India after partition. That’s why Sindhudesh Movement has been lacking economic, political and diplomatic means to start mass uprising against the decades of slavery, humiliation and oppression. Therefore, the independence of Sindh and establishment of secular republic of Sindhudesh is the need of the history and key to regional peace."[34][35][24]

Population break up by states (Census of India 2011)
State Population (100 Thousands) % of Total
Gujarat 11.84 42.7%
Maharashtra 7.24 26.1%
Rajasthan 3.87 13.9%
Madhya Pradesh 2.45 8.8%
Chhattisgarh 0.93 3.4%
Delhi 0.31 1.1%
Uttar Pradesh 0.29 1.0%
Assam 0.20 0.7%
Karnataka 0.17 0.6%
Andhra pradesh 0.11 0.4%

Sind United Party

Main article: Sind United Party

The Sind United Party or Sind Ittehad Party (Sindhi: سنڌ اتحاد پارٽي) was a political party in Sind, British India. The party was founded in June 1936, the same year that the Sind province had been created. The party was modelled on the Punjab Unionist Party. In the 1937 election to the Sind Legislative Assembly, the party emerged as the largest party with 21 seats in the Assembly and formed a provincial government.


Sindhu Desh Liberation Army

Main article: Sindhudesh Liberation Army

The Sindhu Desh Liberation Army or SDLA is an active militant group based in the Sindh province of Pakistan. A series of minor blasts[36] took place on railway lines — the attacks carried out between November 2010, and February 2011 were claimed by the SDLA, who left pamphlets on the scene that mentioned “atrocities” being carried out against Sindh and promising to continue their “struggle” till Sindh was granted “freedom”.[37] The attacks were condemned by fellow Sindhi nationalists such as Dr Qadir Magsi of the Jeay Sindh Tarraqi Passand Party, who warned of negative consequences from violence.[36][38]

The group is currently active.[39]

Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz

Main article: Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz

Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz was a “merger/integration” of all the nationalist factions of Jeay Sindh or Sindhudesh movement which was functioning separately before the demise of veteran Sindhi nationalist ideologue GM Syed.[40]

Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz

Main article: Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz

JSMM is one of the major[41][42] separatist political party in Sindh, Pakistan, that believes in the separation of Sindhudesh from Pakistan. Founded in the year 2000, by the veteran Sindhi nationalists belonging to the Sindhudesh movement who left JSQM.[43] The founder and the current Chairman of party Shafi Muhammad Burfat is living in exile in Germany under political asylum.[44]

Jeay Sindh Students' Federation

Main article: Jeay Sindh Students' Federation

Jeay Sindh Students’ Federation is the student wing of various separatist organizations struggling for the freedom of Sindhudesh following the ideology of G. M. Syed, founded in 1969. JSSF was a nationalist outfit which emerged from Anti-Unitary System Struggle in the late 1960s and later joined G. M. Syed in his ideology of a separate homeland for Sindhis in 1972. Since then, it has been working as the students’ front of the Jeay Sindh or Sindhudesh movement.[45]

Sindh National Movement Party

A new left wing party for a politically, culturally, economically and geographically independent Sindh was formed in December 2011. It wants to see Sindh as it was in 1843 before the British conquered it and opposes the development of Zulfikarabad, referring to it as a new Israel.[46]

Causes of failure of Sindhudesh Movement

Emergence of Pakistan People's Party

One of the mainstream federal party of Pakistan, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), found its political roots in Sindh. Most of its leadership also comes from Sindh. The PPP has always believed in politics of federation and parliamentary democracy.[47] The long rule of PPP, dominated by Sindhis, at the provincial level has diminished Sindhi nationalism. Moreover, the rise of PPP to the federal government also furthered the interests of Sindhis in the federation of Pakistan.[48]

The above factors has weakened the Sindhudesh movement due to which Sindh has seen relative calm for years now. According to South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP), a Delhi-based think tank, Sindh has remained peaceful even at the high times of terrorism in Pakistan recording 2 to 3 casualties of Pakistani forces per annual.[48][49]

Industrialization of Sindh

One of the reason for the failure of separatist movements of Sindh is the fact that Sindh serves as the most industrialized province of Pakistan as Karachi and Hyderabad serving as the key industrial hubs of the country.[50] Sindh contributes around 70% of the total revenue of Pakistan whereas Karachi being the financial hub and port city generates majority of the share to the national revenue.[51]

Diverse demographics of Sindh

The diverse demographics of Sindh also plays major role as Urban Sindh is heavily dominated by the Urdu-speaking community which does not support separatist cause of Sindh at all.[52] Further, Sindhis of Urban areas also reject any such notion of separation as most of Urban Sindhi population serving as the public professionals, doctors, and civil servants who have heavy stakes within Pakistani state. To put simple, The Urbanization of Sindh coupled with diversity of Sindh has made it harder for Sindhi nationalist to attract support for their separatist cause.[53]

Success of NFC award

The National Finance Commission Award, 2010 granted 24% of the revenue share to the Sindh, much larger than its actual population of 15%, which subsequently helped in alleviating the grievances of the local population and solidified Pakistani nationalism among them.[54]

Provincial autonomy under 18th Amendment

18th Amendment adopted by the National Assembly in 2009 devolved much of the power to the provinces and granted enough financial, legislative and administrative autonomy to the provinces. 18th Amendment strengthened the federation and took a major toll on Sindhi Nationalism. Ministries such as health, education, law, home, and finance are now fully under control of provinces.[55][56]

See also


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