Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ties with Rajistan

[This item was written in February 2006 before opening of Thar-Rajasthan border train service]

The opening of the Khokhrapar border will not just help in building cultural and economic relations with Rajasthan, Gujarat, etc but it can also bring economic opportunities for the people of Thar (Sindh) and Rajasthan (India). The influx of Urdu speaking refugees from India due to opening of Khokhrapar border under present conditions is incomprehensible. The border between India and Pakistan is already open at Wagha / Amritsar. If any refugee wants to come to Sindh, it can come through Wagha border with only few hundred rupees of extra cost. However, a particular political group may well try to bring in his supporters (who can potentially increase their vote bank in future), but chances of that are very rare, especially if Sindhi `Dharti Dhani' would keep close watch over them.Mostly the migration of people takes place from poor economic zone to well-off economic areas. In this regards we should not forget that India (and China) are two booming economies of Asia with economic growth 8-10 percent annually. Both countries have sustained economic growth for about a decade now and is likely to remain as such in future. India has more open and democratic society and is developing at rate much faster than Pakistan. In the near future, and as long as Pakistan remains in grip of military's dominance, chances of economic growth and opportunities in this impoverished and unfortunate country are very rare. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that people will migrate from a better country to an impoverished military dominated undemocratic country full of instabilities and injustices. However, chances are that more Hindu Sindhis may well try to go to India instead of more Indians coming to Sindh under present conditions. The Sindh which attracted refugees from India in 1947 was a different Sindh then the Sindh of today.The economic activity in Thar and Mirpurkhas has been certainly on the rise since the announcement of the opening of the border at Khokhrapar. This was reflected in rise in real estate prices in the Mirpurkhas and Khokhrapar areas. However, the news of strikes and demonstrations by our `nationalist' friends have sent wrong signal to the business community locally and internationally. Those who wanted to invest would now think twice before they invest in the region. It is advisable for the `nationalist' friends to desist from their negative projection of Sindh. Instead of strikes and demonstrations, there is need of forming a vigilance committee or watchdog group which can keep constant watch over the people coming and going through the Khokhrapar border. Irrespective of political affiliations and interests, the Sindhi Chief Minister can take steps to legalize such a monitoring group on the permanent basis so that they can liaise with the Immigration Authorities to keep close watch on immigration and emigration of travelers. Under present circumstances this is the best way to keep influx of refugees, if any, under control and at the same time allow the economic and business activities in the region to grow in this era of globalization and interdependance. Such a watchdog group can also monitor whether people employed and posted in the government department there are Dharti Dhani or aliens. Our isolation from international stage and resistance in opening up will further push us centuries back. More affluent Sindhis (especially fromabroad) should seize this opportunity and invest in the region.

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