How does it feel when you are hated in your own country where you were born and grown up? The word Mohazir sounds so simple but has a painful history for thousands who are treated as a traitor and asked for a proof to be a patriot. The dissolution of the British-Raj in the Subcontinent in 1947, and the accompanying mass migration across the new borders between the newly-independent states of India and Pakistan, are certainly among the most momentous developments in recent history.
Living in India, you might have been gone through the stories of ‘Refugees’ who migrated to India from Pakistan and their struggle how they endured their identity and earned the name and fame worldwide. You might be wondering about the life of those who left India to live in Pakistan. Well, they are called ‘Mohazirs’ there and when I googled about their life in Pakistan, I got some heart-wrenching facts that I am sharing here.
Life of a Mohazir in Pakistan
Newly-independent Pakistan was soon overtaken by the world’s largest, and perhaps most painful, migration, which not only changed the demography of this young nation, but also reconfigured its socio-political composition. The Mohajirs of Pakistan are largely settled in the Sindh province. Muhajirs are probably the most educated community of Pakistan and Karachi gives 65% taxes of all country.
Not all people who migrated from India are considered Mohajirs. It is specifically politicized to describe the Urdu Speaking people who migrated from Northern India (Delhi Lucknow UP Etc) to Pakistan and then settled in Urban centers of Sindh province Karachi, Hyderabad, Mir pur Khas, Sakhar. When Balochis talk that they don’t want to be with Pakistan, everyone opines there should be talks between two parties.
When Pakhtoons say that they want independence, from politicians to ISI tries to negotiate and appease them, but when a Mohazir is called ‘Gaddar’ on ‘Indian agent’ in their own lands, nobody gives them a shoulder.
In 1947, with Urdu adopted as the national tongue, these newcomers did not take any significant interest in the Sindhi language, and, in many cases, developed a degree of nonchalance towards Sindhi culture and that made them hate-worthy in the land that they hoped would give them peaceful life for generations. They fell victim to an organised form of collective violence that was aimed especially at women and younger people.
The Mohajirs, on their arrival, felt unwelcomed by the local Sindhi and Pashtun populations as the latter looked at this influx skeptically fearing that the newcomers would outnumber them, grab their lands, employment and educational opportunities. That is precisely what followed. The early sympathy, however, was soon replaced by grudge as refugees also began to arrive from Punjab, leading many Sindhi politicians such as Ayub Khuhro to claim that ‘for every one Hindu that has left, two Muslims have come in’.
Migrants from India to Pakistan have not been treated at par with the Punjabis, and have been denied their basic fundamental rights. They are discriminated and victimized. Muhajirs were educated and skilled workers living in the trade capitals of undivided India. After Partition, they were never allowed to mingle because of the feudal system prevalent in Pakistan.
Plight of the Muhajirs living in Pakistan
Apart from identity-related issues, the economic, political and cultural fall-out from migration was to fashion collective perceptions and official policies in Pakistan anchoring the future shape of settlements as well as politicking in the province. There is the even greater irony of Mohajirs being viewed as a fifth column, a ‘Gaddar’ or, even worse, as ‘Indian agents’ by many in Pakistan today.
The label of Mohajir has made it near impossible for them to be accepted as a Pakistani in Pakistan. This forced label only hurts their presence, their participation and their identity in a country that they considered their own but that has gradually disowned them over the years. “Despite having emigrated from India, being a Mohajir wouldn’t have been such an ‘issue’ if it hadn’t been ‘made such an issue’ with the emergence of an identity that honestly is no help to the common man,” writes Aalia Suleman, a freelance writer who writes on women rights in Pakistan.
Also read: Will Balochistan be free ever?