Why support Sindh Festival?

Why support Sindh Festival?

A province engulfed in serious ethnic and urban-rural divide is now celebrating its culture and heritage which is undoubtedly remarkable. Sindh’s history is magnificently rich and comprises of a civilization which dates back to 3000 BC. One can imagine the richness of this land by this fact alone that the Indus Valley Civilization rivaled the coexistent civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia in terms of development and culture.

Unfortunately, the people of Sindh are giving mixed opinions about Sindh Festival. In spite of the fact that the celebration is unprecedented, it is being subjected to harsh criticism mainly because it is being backed and organized by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which does not maintain a good reputation in urban parts of the province, particularly in Karachi. Many make fun of the brother sister duo namely, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari without giving any rational argument against the two. Instead, they resort to passing on remarks about their personality traits ignoring the merits of their initiative. Too many people seem to have a problem with them but I wonder if similar cultural celebrations were announced by Imran Khan in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, the same chattering class would have joined him ecstatically.

There are other critics too with more convincing arguments such as bad governance by PPP as the province has not undergone significant development under PPP’s rule. But the problem with their rationale is that they commit the mistake of comparing development with cultural celebration. It is an obvious fact that PPP’s track record has not been satisfactory but using the argument of poor governance to discredit this cultural initiative is illogical. Moreover promotion of culture is also a part of ‘governance’.

Some also argue that the festival is a pretext while the real agenda is to strengthen political support plus political grooming of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. It sounds appealing but why would PPP need to strengthen its position where it already wears the crown of biggest political stakeholder?

There are numerous reasons to support this initiative. First of all, a province which is divided along ethnic lines critically needs a uniting force to harmonize different ethnicities. A sizeable faction of the population lives with a mistaken identity and do not own Sindhi culture. It is imperative to own the identity of the land you have been living on for generations. Also, there also exists an urban-rural divide and cultural heritage can play a proactive role in bridging this gap.

With our traditions, norms and values being under threat from rising extremism, owning and celebrating the plural tradition of our culture would definitely promulgate a message of peace and harmony. It should also strengthen our resolve that we will not let barbarism erase our history and values. It is time to find commonalities and unite rather than to criticize endlessly and stay divided. Culture is one of the strongest forces which bind people together; give cultural unity a chance and most importantly, give brotherhood a chance. Pakistan Paindabad, Jiye Sindh!

Bilal Akhter Lashari

Bilal Akhter Lashari

Bilal is a researcher at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs.


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