Mohajirs still feel left out, you might never know, what is actually happening in Karachi. The Urdu-speaking community known as the Mohajirs in Pakistan has predominantly established their presence in the province of Sindh, Karachi.

The Mohajirs, who settled in Karachi, integrated into Pakistan’s ruling elite due to their education, urban lifestyle, and expertise. Socially liberal, they politically aligned with religious parties to counter their sense of insecurity as outsiders. They supported the state’s push for a homogeneous national identity, rejecting ethnic sentiments. As the ruling elite changed, the Mohajirs lost influence and protested against the Ayub regime in the 1960s.

At times, the Mohajir community faces some discrimination, particularly if they are affiliated with the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM). There have been allegations of human rights violations against Mohajirs, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Discrimination may occur mainly in Karachi. The MQM has raised concerns about these issues, even petitioning the United Nations Secretary-General in 1998. But let’s be honest. Mohajirs are still facing difficulties because of the dirty politics played by MQM. But it’s not their fault. Many Mohajirs support PPP or PTI. Some Mohajirs claim discrimination in different parts of Pakistan, but the extent and specific areas are not specified. Efforts have been made to promote assimilation and improve relations between Sindhis and Urdu-speaking Mohajirs. Some individuals, both Mohajirs and non-Mohajirs, express positive experiences and acceptance in various regions of Pakistan. In the past, MQM activists faced persecution, but they had opportunities to seek refuge in other parts of the country. Moreover, many Mohajirs have left Pakistan due to many difficulties and lesser opportunities.

They feared further marginalization under Bhutto and participated in the 1977 right-wing movement. Disillusioned, they formed the MQM in 1984, promoting Mohajir ethnic nationalism. The MQM gained electoral strength but faced challenges, resulting in a violent response. In 2002, the MQM sought to end hostilities and added dimensions to Mohajir nationalism, emphasizing their connection with Sindhis and a liberal interpretation of Islam. The future of Mohajir’s nationalism remains to be seen.

Furthermore, it is all good and well to curse the MQM and Altaf Hussain for making Karachi a living hell. But while doing so, we neglect the makings of the Mohajir mind and how it has given rise to a “unique and exclusionary brand of Pakistani nationalism.” There is no question of us being able to negotiate all of our ethnolinguistic battles without mentioning this reality.


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