SIND One of Pakistan's four provinces, Sind occupies the southeastern corner of the country, covering 54,407 square miles (140,913 sq. km), about the area of England. Sind is bounded on the south by the Arabian Sea, on the west and north by Balochistan and Punjab provinces, and on the east by India. Sindi, the native language of the province, is one of the major spoken languages of Pakistan, with a considerable literature.
Sind was conquered by Alexander the Great in 325 b.c. and was one of the first areas on the Indian subcontinent to be influenced by Arab invaders in the early eighth century a.d. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, it came under Mughal Muslim domination. The administrative province of Sind was carved out of the much larger province of Bombay in British India in 1936. Sind's Muslim majority destined that the area would become one of the principal provinces of independent Pakistan after partition in August 1947. Yet unlike the strong identification of Muslim populations in northern and central India with Pakistani nationalism, the political leadership of Sind was not closely aligned with the Muslim League of Pakistan's founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Sind lost its status as an autonomous province when Pakistan's Constituent Assembly in 1955 adopted its "One-Unit Plan" for West Pakistan. Sind's provincial assembly and political identity were restored with the restoration of Pakistan's federal system in 1970.
Sind's population stood at 30 million in 2003, with roughly half its people living in urban centers, the largest being Karachi, Hyderabad, and Sukkur. Sindi society is multiethnic. Sindi identity itself contains different strains historically, but a basic distinction is made between Sindis and Muhajirs ("immigrants"), an urban Urdu-speaking population that traces its origins to immigration from North India after Partition. Subsequently, large numbers of Punjabis and Pathans from the North-West Frontier, as well as Baluchis, migrated to Sind from other provinces within Pakistan. Non-Muslim religious minorities dominated Sind's cities before the Hindu population fled with partition. Only very small Hindu, Christian, and Parsi (Zoroastrian) communities remain in the province.
A strong tradition of Sindi "nationalism" exists. Nationalists have championed greater provincial autonomy and have sought to defend politically and economically those in the population who have their roots in Sind. Sindi nationalists have long resented Pakistan's politically dominant Punjabi community. They chafed at the allotment, after independence, of large tracts of irrigated land to absentee Punjabi landlords, mainly from Pakistan's ruling Punjabi bureaucratic and military elites. Migrating Punjabis are also resented for taking over larger businesses and industries in the province. An unresolved and continuing bone of contention between Sindi nationalists and successive national governments of Pakistan has been the construction of numerous barrages and canals, which divert much of the Indus River's flow to the Punjab.
Muhajirs had been prominent in the national bureaucracy until Pakistan's capital shifted from Karachi to Islamabad in northern Punjab in 1960. Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the first native Sindi prime minister of Pakistan, a quota system was introduced, guaranteeing that 60 percent of jobs and educational admissions provincially would effectively be reserved for rural Sindis, mostly at the expense of Muhajirs. An attempt to impose Sindi as the province's official language incensed the Urdu-speaking Muhajirs and occasioned riots in 1972. The Pakistan army was called in to quell the disturbances. Bhutto's policies of nationalizing industry also fell particularly hard on wealthy Muhajir businessmen.
Dedicated Sindi nationalists have never succeeded in an election. Pakistan's popular People's Party has dominated the province, its strongholds lying particularly in the rural districts of Sind, especially Larkara, the home district of the large landholding Bhutto family. During recent years, the county's religious parties have expanded their influence in the province, notably in Karachi. Although many Sindis follow a relaxed, though devout, Sufi Islamic tradition, there have been some inroads of more orthodox, rigid Islamic beliefs and practices, especially traceable to the growing number of party-affiliated religious schools.
Another challenge to the Sindi nationalists came in 1984 with the organized political opposition of the Muhajirs, latter called Muttahida Quami Mahaz (MQM), or Immigrant People's Movement. Appealing mostly to urban dwellers from the educated middle and lower middle classes, the MQM has sought to break the political grip of the landlord class in provincial politics. To force attention to their political and economic grievances, the often fractious movement has at times formed alliances with national parties. But the MQM also has a vivid history of confrontation with the central government, which it accuses of using divide-and-rule tactics to disenfranchise Muhajars. In 1995 MQM-instigated interethnic violence, centered in Karachi, was brutally put down by government security forces, and in 1998 Governor's rule was imposed on the province, and military tribunals were introduced.
In human development terms, measured by achievements in health and education and real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, Sind ranks second among Pakistan's provinces. However, disaggregating the indices presents striking variability. Sind has the highest overall literacy rate at 51 percent of the population, but along with Baluchistan, the lowest school enrollment and the lowest infant survival rate. At the same time, Sind has Pakistan's highest real GDP per capita. This disparity is explained by the province's deep urban-rural divide. While urban Sind comes out highest on combined human development indexes, rural Sind ranks lowest among the four provinces.
Much of Sind is desert. Seasonal rains ordinarily do not exceed 7 inches (18 cm) per annum, and many sections of the province often receive much less. Although Sind contains only 7 million acres of cultivatable land, it is basically an agrarian province. Cropped areas, mostly in cotton, wheat, and rice, are irrigated from the Indus River, which carries water from the Himalayas and Karakoram ranges in the distant north. On 1 April 1948 India had cut off the flow of water from the Indus headwaters under its control. With the intercession of the World Bank, an agreement acceptable to both governments was reached in 1960. That treaty, commonly known as the Indus Water Treaty, is the only major peaceful agreement ever reached by India and Pakistan and, despite subsequent wars and tensions, it remains in force.
Marvin G. Weinbaum
See alsoPakistan and India
Blood, Peter R., ed. Pakistan: A County Study. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1994.
Burki, Shahid Javed. Pakistan under Bhutto, 1971–77. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1980.
Korejo, M. S. A Testament of Sindh: Ethnic and Religious Extremism: A Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.