Abdul Majeed Kanjoo, president of a prominent opposition party in Pakistan, Seraiki National Party (SNP), spoke to RC Ganjoo about how the Army is dominating the whole show and oppressing other ethnic and minority groups in that country. SNP works for the rights of 30 million Seraiki (also spelled Saraiki) people in Pakistan. Saraiki nationalists have been campaigning for achieving language rights and bringing down Punjabi control over the natural resources of Siraili lands. Edited excerpts:
How do you describe Pakistan's position at international level?
The US and the international community have categorically told Pakistan to engage with India. But it speaks with a forked tongue. Pakistan has three faces – Punjab, Pakistan and the Army – all rolled into one. Actually Punjab-Army-Pakistan want to win the game through propaganda with the help of hired mercenaries in Kashmir and Punjab, but that won't work. The Pakistan Army is fighting a continuous war within the boundaries of Pakistan, because they claim to be the guard of not only the geographic but the ideological frontiers.
How does Pakistan behave with Seraiki people who are in a majority in the country?
Islam and false ideology have turned Pakistan into a prison of oppressed nations. National rights and identity of Seraikis are not even mentioned in the so-called constitution of 1973. Under the unjustified and forcefully driven constitution, the Army and Punjab have become holy cows. Challenging them simply means inviting death. SNP has decided to apprise the international community about the realities in the national interest of the whole Seraikis.
After the Bengalis, Seraikis are the biggest ethnic group in Pakistan accounting for 40% of the population. But they are counted as Punjabis, taking the Punjabi population to 62.5%.
About Seraikis, it is one of the oldest established nations in the world with their language and culture, the inheritance of Indus Valley Civilization, the earliest one in the world. The Rig Veda which was written on the banks of Indus. River Indus flows quietly through Seraiki lands, enriching them with fertility and cash crops. Obviously Seraikis and the River Indus were made for each other. Another clear acknowledgment was from American President Bill Clinton’s short visit to Pakistan few years ago where he was quoted as saying that he had come to meet the inheritors of the great Indus Valley Civilization. Due to obvious reasons, the speech of President Clinton was not propagated or properly interpreted. The bloodshed in 1947 occurred due to the Great Game of the super powers, but who are the killers of millions of Bengalis in 1971? Forty per cent population of Pakistan, Seraikis, and their Indus Valley Civilization are in the danger of elimination. By whom? Are the culprits some hidden creatures?
Tell me about the difficulties faced by Seraikis?
The plight of Seraikis after separation of the majority nation “Bengalis” have been dismal. The Army used constitution as another means of control over Baloch, Seraikis, Pashtoons and Sindhis. Baloch and Seraikis were specially targeted and so was the constitution used as a hurdle in the formation of any nation state or province. The Army soon got dissatisfied with the constitution too and among many amendments inserted an army ruler’s name in the book making it a ridiculous document. The Army has been directed to focus upon three areas Punjab plus Seraikis, Pukhtoon plus Balochistan and Sindh plus Muhajir. Popular parties from Punjab, Pakhtoon and Sindh plus religious groups along Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan founded by Altaf Hussain in 1984 are allowed to operate under the umbrella of the Army.
Your comments on the ongoing struggle of Baloch people.
My party Seraiki National Party has no political ally except Balochistan National Party headed by Sardar Akhtar Jan. We wholeheartedly support the demand of Balochistan.
What about MQM?
MQM was founded by Altaf Ahmad in 1984. Pakistan is in a hurry to eliminate MQM at any cost. The Seraikis are ready to share their experiences with anyone who wants to understand the anti-people character of Pakistan. Bahawalpur’s Seraikis, Sindhis, Baloch and Pashtoons were victorious in 1970 elections along with the Bengalis. But Punjab and its Army defeated all of them in the war of 1971, fought against the constitutionalists of Pakistan. Bengalis were targeted most and made an example for the remaining nations.