Sindh

Introduction

Sindh is the south-easternmost province of Pakistan. It is the third largest province by size, and is bordered by Balochistan to the west, Punjab to the north, Gujarat and Rajasthan to the east, and the Arabian Sea to the south. The provincial capital of the province is Karachi, which is the largest and most populated city in Pakistan and the financial hub of the country, and also the site of significant sectarian, ethnic and political violence.

Demographics

According to the last census (1998), the population of Sindh was 30.4 million, but recent estimates place that figure at 44.2 million. 52 per cent of this population lives in rural areas.The literacy rate for Sindh for the period 2014-2015 is 61 per cent (71 per cent of males are literate and 50 per cent of females). With regards to religion, 94.81 per cent of the population of the province are Muslim, 5.01 per cent are Hindu, and 0.18 per cent adhere to other religions.

Economy

The economy of Sindh is the second largest of the country, after Punjab. The province's contribution to the national GDP is around 33 per cent, and Sindh collects 70 per cent of Pakistan’s income tax and 62 per cent of sales tax. Sindh has 54 per cent of the country’s textile units, 45 per cent of its sugar mills, 20 per cent of pulp and paper mills, and 35 per cent of edible oil processed locally. Sindh has the largest sea port in Pakistan, Port Qasim, which accounts for much of the transport of goods across the Arabian sea. The nominal GDP of the province is 47,799 USD (second only to Punjab), while the GSP per capita is 1,500 USD (the highest in the country). In 2012-13, the official unemployment rate in the province was 5 per cent, lower than the country’s overall rate.

Politics

The province of Sindh was the first province to demand a separate homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent. During partition, there was a mass-migration of people from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Hyderabad and Bihar to Karachi. The identity of these largely Urdu-speaking “Mohajirs” was strengthened when the national language of Pakistan was adopted as Urdu, and Karachi was made the capital. However, this migration created tensions between Mohajirs and Sindhis, and the population of the latter declined from 87 per cent of the province before partition to about 67 per cent after, and Sindhis also became a minority within Karachi. (Cohen, 2011)

The politics of Sindh is largely dominated by the leftist Pakistan People's Party, whose current chairman is Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, grandson to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and son of Benazir Bhutto. The ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) does not have a strong foothold in the province. In major metropolitan cities including Karachi and Hyderabad, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), another left-leaning party that promotes the rights of the Urdu-speaking migrant community, has a considerable vote-bank among Mohajirs, and is headed by Altaf Hussain.

The province of Sindh, mainly Karachi, is plagued by violent extremism, rampant crime, and tribal feuds. This includes extremist outfits such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban, which is very active in the province. There has been an ongoing operation in the province beginning in September 2013 to rid the metropolis of violence and terrorism, which has reportedly resulted in significant gains.

The current Chief Minister of Sindh is Syed Qaim Ali Shah, from the PPP. The leader of opposition is Mr. Khawaja Izharul Hassan, of the MQM.

 

Further Reading

Pakistan’s Sindh Province
The Evolution of Mohajir Politics and Identity
‘In 2015 Karachi the most violent region in Pakistan’
Karachi’s three decades of violence
Sindh Assessment 2015 - South Asia Terrorism Portal