Issues is Sindh

21

By Salman Ali

The province of Sindh, despite being the second largest province of the country, lags far behind others. Province Sindh is confronted by a plethora of chronic problems. Rapid population growth, extreme poverty and poor governance have devastated the peaceful and progressive Sindhi society. It is a painful reality that our rulers and bureaucrats are unable to understand that this axiomatic truth of human resource management and good governance that without improving good governance it will not be possible to stabilise the alarming population growth rate and eradicate extreme poverty from the resources-rich province. Interior Sindh is facing several issues ranging from education, health, environment, rule of law, poverty and most importantly safety of minorities. Every government in Sindh gave Illiteracy, Hunger, Displacement and Poverty to its citizens.

However, over the past decade, in Sindh public school enrollment remains bleak, health and nutrition indicators have remained stagnant, energy shortages persist despite vast energy sources, and limited job opportunities for females and youth. If we talk about the education sector then some of the shocking findings are: “For every 100 boys enrolling in primary school in Sindh, only 86 girls do so in the province.”, “only 60% of children in Sindh make it to secondary school”,” for 21 government primary schools there is only one government secondary school”, “In 1995 Sindh’s poverty headcount ratio was 10% lower than that of the national economy, but 2001 it was 3% higher.

Sadly, there are no proper medical facilities even in district headquarters in interior Sindh. If someone wants to see the gap between the rural and urban population, one has not to go too far. The disparities can be observed if we compare the standard of life in Karachi with living standard in villages that are situated near the city. While travelling toward Hyderabad via the National Highway from Karachi, we realise that the villages along both sides of the highway lack proper schools, health centres and safe drinking water facilities. The situation becomes worse when we visit remote villages of the province where people don’t even have access to reach cities. In our modern age, there are hundreds of villages in Sindh where people have never seen Karachi or Hyderabad. They don’t even have any idea about what large cities look like.

Recently, I had a chance to visit District Khairpur Mirs, and met with different communities, however, it was not a good experience in terms of the facilities provided by the Sindh government or elected representatives. While talking with the group of people living in the union council of Ghulam Mohammad Mahar, they said we are not having a single government school, about 1000 students are not getting education, most importantly, even there is no facility of clean water. These are the biggest issues, which we are facing because we all are aware that education and health is our basic human right. Though getting this education our kids can create and develop variety of productive capacities and can earn their livelihood. They said, we have submitted hundreds of letters to recently elected MPA Munawar Wassan and MNA Nafisa Shah but they always give lame excuses.

Within my stay, what important thing I noticed is about 10 to 18 hours electricity load shedding in 24 hours on daily basis as the authorities have adopted deep silence over this social issue. It seemed that there is no merciful leader, who can resolve this issue. Khairpur is native district of Syed Qaim Ali Shah, who could even not resolve this issue during his chief ministership eras nor did former MNA Nawab Wassan or Manzoor Wassan.

Within Interior Sindh, during my stay I found long-running tribal disputes marked by tit-for-tat killings of rival tribe members remain the leading cause of violence in Sindh and fuel the province’s criminal culture. Members of tribes arm themselves with smuggled weapons and pay criminals to assassinate their rivals to settle disputes, thereby fueling the criminal culture in the province. Police officials many of whom have tribal affiliations themselves often spur rather than check the violence or are pressurized by an influential tribal chief, landowners, or politicians not to interfere in tribal matters. These police officials do not intervene in any matter rather keep mum on such issues. In terms of the province’s conflict dynamics, the most relevant fallout of Sindh’s patronage politics is the politicization of the police force. The majority of officers are political appointees, so they do nothing, or worse, engage in criminal activities. The concept of rule of law is meaningless in this part of Sindh.

The rural areas of Sindh have among the highest incidence of poverty in Pakistan—53 percent of the population in rural Sindh lives below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, nearly six hundred thousand people enter the job market in Sindh each year as a result of the growing population and increased rural-urban migration, but only 350,000 jobs will be created, leading to soaring unemployment rates and further indebtedness.  Other development indicators are also extremely poor in rural districts. According to the National Nutrition Survey 2011, Sindh is the most food-deprived province of Pakistan. Only 28 percent of households count as food secure while 16.8 percent of households in the province face severe hunger.

 

The question is where is the Sindh Government? Indeed, nothing has been done concrete for the people of Sindh. Hereby, I want to give few advices to the government that;

1: Ensure greater political representation for religious minorities

2: Strengthen law enforcement throughout Sindh

3: Enhance the capacity of the legal system

4: Develop and implement education policies to address the problem of nonfunctional ghost schools

5: Develop a job creation program

My advice to CM Sindh is that you should give priority to education, health & hygiene, water and sanitation projects as Sindh is currently facing 53 per cent malnutrition, 39 per cent stunting, 13 per cent chronic stunting cases, 55 per cent dropout ratio from schools, teachers’ absenteeism, incomplete projects in health and education sector, improper use of funds through local governments and chronic corruption from bottom to high level in almost all departments. Most of these problems can still be solved by this government. But they require sincere attention and the willingness to act promptly

The writer is a social and political activist based in Lahore. He has done his Maters and MPhil in Communication Studies. He can be reached at salmanali088@gmail.com, tweets at Salmani_salu