festival
Cattle envy
Kolachi explores the trend of high-priced, and ostensibly, high-cultured cattle reared extraordinarily and sold at extraordinary prices
By Qadeer Tanoli
Karachi is not new to a trend of expensive cattle. About a fortnight ago, a sacrificial cow was sold for Rs1.40 million at the cattle market situated in Sohrab Goth. This is not a case in isolation: some wealthy persons in the city are said to "always purchase" between 10 and 15 cows every Eid, each of which is sold at one million rupees by cattle farmers.

'What else should I sacrifice?'
Kolachi reports the tale of a man's sacrifice that did not involve the slaughtering of animals, but one that is made in the name of God, humanity and peace
By Rafay Mahmood
Gul Khan Swati is one of the many who will simply offer their prayers on Eid, before returning to work. Their logic: they don't have much to celebrate or sacrifice on the occasion.

Indyus Watch
Killer lake continues to bring misery
Seven people died in 2005 after consuming contaminated water from Hamal Lake. Hafeez Tunio reports on how what was once a body of sweet water has now turned poisonous
The heirs of the seven people who lost their lives after consuming contaminated water from Hamal Lake are still waiting for the compensation that was announced for them by the government. The lake, which is situated in the lap of the Khirthar Mountain range in Taluka Warah of district Kamber-Shahdadkot is presently over 80 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide.

scholarly overview
Redefining 'Hur' identity
The need for a critical reinterpretation of Sindhi history to analyse what it means to be a Hur was highlighted by Abdul Haque Chang in a paper titled "The Hurs of Sindh: A Historiography of a Rebellion from a Subaltern Perspective". The paper was presented at the 39th Annual South Asian seminar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. Excerpts are presented below
Amar Laghari, a columnist and Sindhi writer, recently argued there are two issues that need to be taken seriously when researching the Hurs of Sindh, a community identified by the British as a criminal tribe. One, he says, is the failure to give proper weight to the Hur movement according to the facts; the other is the lack of critical reading of the British archives and proper cross-examination of these documents with oral tradition and other local sources.

 

Cattle envy

Kolachi explores the trend of high-priced, and ostensibly, high-cultured cattle reared extraordinarily and sold at extraordinary prices

By Qadeer Tanoli

Karachi is not new to a trend of expensive cattle. About a fortnight ago, a sacrificial cow was sold for Rs1.40 million at the cattle market situated in Sohrab Goth. This is not a case in isolation: some wealthy persons in the city are said to "always purchase" between 10 and 15 cows every Eid, each of which is sold at one million rupees by cattle farmers.

"There are 20 rich individuals in the city who love to purchase cows that have extraordinary price tags," Shahab Ali Ikram, the administrator of the Sohrab Goth cattle market, told Kolachi. A celebrated stock broker, also recognised in the country for his philanthropist activities, is said to purchase around 15 'special cows' on Eid-ul-Azha every year. After these cows are purchased, they are exhibited to the masses that come from different parts of the city who admire the beauty of these animals.

The market for costly cattle seems to be increasing, as this year, 200 'exhibition stalls' were set up at the Sohrab Goth cattle market for presentation of extraordinary animals, which were sold at extraordinary prices. Ikram explained that a lot of things mattered for the animals' exhibition. He said that weight, beauty, physique and a lot other factors are considered important for an exhibition animal. "These animals are the heaps of fats that reflect extraordinary beauty in term of their built," he said.

He said that these animals are fed a protein-heavy nourishment so as to ensure that their size and beauty are not compromised. "These cows and goats are fed Ghee, butter almonds, milk etc. The farmers of these animals specifically rear them for exhibition on the holy occasion of Eid-ul-Azha," he explained.

The price of plots at the market where these animals were displayed was also astonishing. The farmers of extraordinary sacrificial animals gave Rs60,000 to the administration of the market to reserve a plot measuring 100x30 yards. According to Ikram, the administration of the market wanted to promote cattle farming, and for that purpose, it had allowed farmers to exhibit animals at prominent stalls.

The administrator of the cattle market said that animal commonly known among the residents of Karachi as VIP sacrificial animals are reared at farms which are situated alongside and in close proximity to Super Highway. "In my opinion there are 70 to 80 cattle farms in Karachi where animals meant for exhibition are reared," Ikram said.

In Karachi, Anwar Peerzada and Abdul Majeed are known for rearing 'special goats', while Lasania Farm also has a good reputation in rearing goats and special cows. Dilpasand, Amir United and Jamal Cattle Farm are known in the city for rearing 'extraordinary cows at their respective farms. Cattle farmer Chaudhry Allah Rakha is said to always bring around 1,200 extraordinary cows to Karachi on Eid, while Hakim Shafqat Sharifi, a man from Sadiqabad (Punjab), is also well-known throughout the country for rearing extraordinary cows.

Ikram narrated that in most of the 200 exhibition stalls that were set up for extraordinary sacrificial animals, an average of 75 animals was kept at each stall.  A cow at these stalls would likely have a minimum price tag of Rs500,000, while the maximum could reach to Rs1,000,000 and beyond. Likewise, he said, a goat meant for exhibition at the market may be priced between Rs150,000 and Rs200,000.

When Kolachi approached Central Reut-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Munib-ur-Rehman to seek his opinion about the stance of religious scholars on million rupee sacrificial cows, he maintained that it was good to purchase a healthy sacrificial animal, but said that it was against the spirit of 'sacrifice' that an animal is purchased at an extraordinary price to "earn a name" amongst the masses. Rehman said that even reciting prayer with the intent of popularising oneself in the world has no 'reward'. "In my opinion, the culture of buying a cow worth million of rupees is not right if the buyer intends to publicise his act in the media," he said. This action would be ranked as "Riakari" and nothing else, he claimed.

-- The News photos by Naqeeb-ur-Rehman and Zahid Rahman

 

'What else should I sacrifice?'

Kolachi reports the tale of a man's sacrifice that did not involve the slaughtering of animals, but one that is made in the name of God, humanity and peace

By Rafay Mahmood

Gul Khan Swati is one of the many who will simply offer their prayers on Eid, before returning to work. Their logic: they don't have much to celebrate or sacrifice on the occasion.

"After the military operation started in Buner, a number of my relatives fled from Buner to different parts of the NWFP. Those who had no other resources came to Karachi. Since a month before Ramazan, I have been running four more families apart from mine, and that too, on the minimal pay I get," Swati, a cab driver, told Kolachi.

Father of six and a resident of Pathan Colony, Swati had planned to save some money to buy a goat on Eid as his children had insisted that their family offered one in sacrifice. "I had saved Rs3,000 for this purpose, but when I went to the Mandi, no decent animal fit my budget. The ones which did were all defective," he said.

Swati was devastated to see the look on his children's faces when he returned from the Mandi empty-handed. "I was a little guilty when I returned empty-handed, I had made a lot of promises to my children. It's not simply that because I get paid less, I couldn't buy a sacrificial animal," Swati firmly said. "My house became a shelter to 20 relatives who became internally displaced persons, and I have to feed them all. What else should I sacrifice?"

There is, however, no resentment or disappointment at Swati's end about his family and him not being able to sacrifice an animal this Eid. This was because Swati believed that he had sacrificed his Eid for the betterment of mankind. "I was saving money this year to buy a goat of my own, and to raise like we do it in our village and eventually sacrifice it in the name of God. But Allah had a better task for me - to feed four other families," he said.

Swati believed that while Eid-ul-Azha was largely a children's festival, but sometimes, the financial interests of the family had to be made into the top priority. "My children keep telling me that if we are not sacrificing an animal because of our relatives, then all of us should contribute and buy one animal. This could have been an amicable and workable solution had we known the duration of the operation going on. But as of now, there is no hope of positive signs or news. It's enough that somehow, the affairs of our household are still running."

The increase in prices during recent times of almost all consumer goods, sugar in particular, has stretched the already thin resources of the family even further. "There is a lot of sugar consumption in our community. There are around 30 of us now, and our total consumption is around half a kilo every day. Just going by that, one can easily imagine how expensive it gets to run five families. It would be a little premature to dream of a sacrificial animal of my own," he smiled.

The situation may seem adverse to others, but Swati remains resolute in his belief that irrespective of all that their household is currently going through, all of his guests will celebrate with him and his family. "Even if the situation gets worse in the northern areas, God will find a way out," he believed. "This is an Eid of endurance. If not this Eid, I'll fulfill the promises I made to my children -- maybe at Eid next year, or the one the year after, but I will do it. When God can give me the power to feed five families on one salary, then anything is possible."

 

Indyus Watch

Killer lake continues to bring misery

Seven people died in 2005 after consuming contaminated water from Hamal Lake. Hafeez Tunio reports on how what was once a body of sweet water has now turned poisonous

The heirs of the seven people who lost their lives after consuming contaminated water from Hamal Lake are still waiting for the compensation that was announced for them by the government. The lake, which is situated in the lap of the Khirthar Mountain range in Taluka Warah of district Kamber-Shahdadkot is presently over 80 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide.

With a history that goes back hundreds of years, the lake was once the only source of livelihood for peasants, fishermen, craftsmen and herdsmen of the area. Now, however, it is dying a painful death. Effluent from Punjab and Balochistan, under the 'Right Bank Outfall Drain' (RBOD) mega project is being disposed off through the Heeraldin Drain, spoiling rich agricultural land, forests, small towns and villages of the area. Thousands of acres have become barren and people have been compelled to leave their abodes.

During a recent visit to the area by Indus Watch, it was revealed that aquatic plants and fish species -- the main sources of livelihood for the residents of the area -- are on the verge of destruction, while people are running from pillar to post in search of sweet water… to no avail. As a result, a majority of the men, women and children living there have no option but to depend on the poisonous water for taking baths, washing clothes and even drinking.

Fifty-five-year-old Allah Warayo Chandio, who lost three family members (his wife and two of his children) on April 10, 2005, after they consumed water from the lake, remembers every detail of that fateful Friday.

"That night, my wife and my children started complaining of abdomen pain. After a few minutes, they started vomiting, etc. I waited for three to four hours and asked my wife to take 'Phaki' (a traditional formula for reducing pain and controlling vomiting), but it did not help," he said. "At 03:00 am, I loaded my family on to a donkey cart and took them to the Fareedabad Medical Centre, around 30 kilometres away from my village. On the way, however, two of my four children, nine-year-old Momal, and six-year-old Sadori, breathed their last. My wife died later."

Allah Warayo is not the only victim of this tragedy; almost every village surrounding the lake has similar stories. Sarja Chandio, a political activist of the area, said that there was a hue and cry on that day. All the basic health centers and clinics of nearby towns were full of patients suffering from diarrhea. Around a dozen people died, and more than 60 were shifted to the Teaching Hospital, Larkana, for treatment.

After the incident, the then-senior provincial minister Sardar Ahmed, Sindh chief secretary Aslam Sanjrani, and provincial irrigation and power minister Nadir Akmal Leghari came to the area. On behalf of the then-chief minister, they announced Rs100,000 as compensation for the relatives of each victim -- a promise which is yet to materialize.

"The credit goes to the local media which highlighted the issue, compelling the elected representatives and government officials to visit the area. However, no tangible results were seen; all we got were photo sessions with ministers," Sarja Chandio said.

"The entire Hamal area is the sight of malnourished children, and sick men and women, trying to make a living on dwindling fish stocks," Dr Zulfiqar Rahojo, a social activist from the area, told Indus Watch. "Almost 80 per cent of the women and children suffer from one disease or the other, but they are not aware of the consequences. They don't even know how poisonous water is dangerous to their health."

How did the lake come into being?

According to residents of the area, the Hamal Lake was originally around 40 kilometers long, and comprised three minor lakes -- Saaroh, Baadham and Kaachri. After heavy rains in 1956 and1976, which resulted in floods, the lake merged into other minor lakes situated within Shahdadkot and Kamber talukas adjacent to the bordering areas of Balochistan.

Zulfiqar Rajpur, a writer whose book on the Hamal Lake was published recently, said that the lake is named after the Hamal Village, located to the west of the lake. He said that after the introduction of the irrigation system in Sindh by the British government, a Flood Protective Bund (FPB) was built to protect irrigation canals in Sindh. "Before that, during the rainy season, water coming through different streams of Khirthar Mountain used to run off into the Indus River. After the FPB was built, the pressure of the water was blocked, which led to an expansion in the size of the lake," he said.

From caves to the Indus civilisation

Historians maintain that the Khirthar Mountain has been a great source of filling the Hamal Lake. The mountain range starts from Balochistan, passes through various districts of Sindh, such as Larkana, Dadu, and Jamshoro, touches Karachi and carries the history of the stone ages. Some archeologists are of the view that the Khirthar Mountain is around 11 crore years old and traces from when humans lived in caves still exist there. "One wonders at the sculptures of animals, such as leopards, deer, camels, bulls, goats and dogs, in the caves," said Ramz Ali Chandio, an elderly man who lives in the area.

A part from this, the lake was also a major source of income for the people who relied on it for fishing, and utilised its water for irrigation.

"Saline water which is being dumped into Hamal Lake has not only disturbed the economy, but has also destroyed the cultural heritage of the area," Rajpar said.

Manzoor Chandio, a journalist who belongs to the area, told Indus Watch that the initial Indus Sculpture started in this region. Later, people moved to Moen-Jo-Daro and the sculpture matured there. "This can be gauged from the fact that many pictures of leopards and deer are found along the streams of the Khirthar Mountain Ranges," he said. "Along with this, there are still traces of minor dams, where people living in the area used to store water for drinking and irrigation."

Wildlife... gone

Eighty-five-year-old Mohammed Ali Chuto, a resident of the nearby Jan Mohammed village, said that a forest-like thick tree plantation along the lake used to serve as a sanctuary for wildlife. Migratory birds from Siberia would flock to the area during winter. During a recent visit to the lake, however, not a single tree was to be seen. "During my childhood, I saw leopards roaming in the area. Now, even the sight of common birds is a rarity," Chuto said. "Animals such as jackals, deer, foxes and pigs have now become extinct. Apart from this, a number of varieties of fish were found here. Since the lake turned poisonous, however, fish species have been wiped out too."

Mohammed Yar Khuhawar, a scientist who heads the Hi-Tech Resources Central Laboratory of the University of Sindh at Jamshoro, said that they had collected some water samples from different places in the lake. Upon examination, the water was found to be extremely poisonous and hazardous for both, humans and animals. "During our survey, I wondered how people drink the water there," Khuhawar said. "We had prepared a comprehensive report consisting of 38 passages regarding the level of contamination in Hamal Lake, and sent it to the officials concerned; but no tangible result has come out yet to redress the problem of the people."

Tribal chieftains add to misery

During a survey of the lake, many people complained about not being allowed to fish in the lake. "We live on the bank of the lake and are the real owners of this water reservoir. Without the consent of tribal chiefs, however, no one can enter it," said Din Mohammed Mallah. "Many fishermen who violate these rules of the tribal chiefs have been shot at and injured by the guards of chieftains, but no one has dared to lodge a complaint against them."

Meanwhile, former Taluka Nazim of Kamber-Shahdadkot and tribal chief of the Chandio clan, Sardar Ahmed Chandio, said that his ancestors have had ownership rights to the lake since British rule. He claimed that the lake was their "property", and it was solely their right to give permission to anyone for fishing.

'More saline than the Arabian Sea'

It is pertinent to note here for the first time in 2005, the lake caught the attention of policymakers. The issue came to the limelight when people started dying after consuming water from the lake. Only a few months after the entire hue and cry, however, not a single government official or elected representative bothered to visit the area in order to enquire about the wellbeing of the victims.

Meanwhile, in 2005, the Sindh Agriculture and Drainage Authority (SADA) had collected some samples of water from different parts of the Lake in order to ascertain the salinity level of the water. The findings of the report, which was conducted under the supervision of renowned water experts, revealed that the water of Hamal Lake was more saline that the water of Arabian Sea.

The report had recommended that since the water was highly hazardous for human life, it should not be used for drinking. The irony, however, is that the people living there have no option but to drink water from the lake. According to them they have now "become habitual" and their immune systems are well-matched with the contaminated water. "With the passage of time, our internal systems have switched from the concept of sweet lake has shifted to killer lake," they said ruefully.

 

scholarly overview

Redefining 'Hur' identity

The need for a critical reinterpretation of Sindhi history to analyse what it means to be a Hur was highlighted by Abdul Haque Chang in a paper titled "The Hurs of Sindh: A Historiography of a Rebellion from a Subaltern Perspective". The paper was presented at the 39th Annual South Asian seminar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. Excerpts are presented below

Amar Laghari, a columnist and Sindhi writer, recently argued there are two issues that need to be taken seriously when researching the Hurs of Sindh, a community identified by the British as a criminal tribe. One, he says, is the failure to give proper weight to the Hur movement according to the facts; the other is the lack of critical reading of the British archives and proper cross-examination of these documents with oral tradition and other local sources.

According to him, British documents present distorted information about Hurs, and therefore need to be read against the grain to find the "truth." Laghari argues that Khadim Soomro, a Sindhi intellectual who has written many books on the history of Sind has done a great service by bringing the papers of former British administrator, H.T Lambrick to Sindh, and suggests that people need to follow his methodology while studying the Hur issue.

This approach to the Hur question, however, also has its own problems. While there is of course an emphasis on rethinking the Hur issue, the "tropes" of colonial and postcolonial historiographic writing continue to hamper historians and writers. One example of this problem is Khadim Hussain Soomro's own book, Freedom at the Gallows: Life and Times of Sayed Sibghatullah Shah Pir Pagaro (2006), which Laghari recommended as providing a new perspective on the Hurs. This book, though written to salvage or rewrite the history of the Hurs of Sindh, ends up using The Terrorist (1972), a novel written by Lambrick, the British administrator to the region from 19217 to 1947, as source material without offering any commentary on the novel or critically reading the text. Lambrick's last duty was as special Commissioner for the Hur Operation (1942-46).

I emphasise this point because Lambrick's presence in Sindh represents a culmination of a long engagement with the Hurs of Sindh that started with the 19th century colonial administration already indexing the "Hurs" as a symbol of terrorism and disorder; branding them as a criminal tribe. In contrast, the Hurs themselves claimed to be freedom fighters whose final and third conflict occurred from 1939 to 1947.

In 1942, martial law was imposed in Sindh due to the ongoing Hur insurgency. During this period, the Royal Air Force bombarded Hur areas; thousands of Hurs were captured and put into special prison camps; many Hurs were killed during the conflict; and scores were given death sentences. The leader of the rebellion, Pir Pagaro, was himself hanged on March 20, 1943. All this happened, while Lambrick was in charge.

Within this historical context it is interesting to note that several Pakistani and British scholars who have worked on the Hurs continue to rely heavily on reports by British administrators such as Lambrick and accept them uncritically as accurate representations of the events; never explicitly questioning the political or sociological processes through which such colonial knowledge was produced. Neither is an attempt made to interrogate the process through which the rich and complex lived experiences of Hurs are fixed into categories of "a criminal tribe or terrorist group".

Let me share another example of such uncritical acceptance of specifically Lambrick's legacy within Sindhi intellectual circles. On January 2, 1997, the University of Sindh at Jamshoro conducted a seminar at the Institute of Sindhology to celebrate the contributions of H.T. Lambrick to the history and culture of Sindh, and to inaugurate the Lambrick Corner at the Institute. Sindhi nationalist and intellectual, Mohammad Ibrahim Joyo, read a paper on Lambrick which was later published in the Sindh Quarterly. Joyo is a hardcore Marxist and Sindhi nationalist and is considered to be one of the most important and long-lasting Sindhi nationalists. He has, since the establishment of Pakistan, been seen by Sindhi nationalist groups as advocating the case of historical and political rights of Sindh and Sindhi people.

Later, Joyo became the secretary of Sindhi Adabi Board and commissioned Lambrick to write the history of Sindh. Lambrick wrote two volumes -- Sindh: A General Introduction (1964) and Sindh Before the Muslim Conquest (1973). The same British administrator who suppressed the Hur uprising had now become its official historian!

Consider now the famous Sindhi novel written by Amar Jalil Nyth Goongay Ghalhaio (And When the Mute Spoke) in 1988. This novel was written to describe the brutalities of the military dictator (1979 to 1988), General Ziaul Haq.

One of the characters of Jalil's novel, Islam Uddin Qazi from Rohri, Sindh, goes to Islamabad to find a job, but disappears. When the elders of the neighbourhood hear no news about Islam, they send a man from the neighbourhood, named Jogi, to Islamabad to look for him. Jogi tries to locate Islam in Islamabad, but can't find him. Eventually he gets a job in the Ministry of Population as a clerk and stops searching for Islam. The neighbourhood elders in Rohri decide to send another person named Ghulab Goongo (Ghulab the mute) to find Islam in Islamabad. When they meet, Jogi tells his friend Ghulab Goongo that "to find Islam in Islamabad is beyond the possibility" (Amar Jalil, 2004: 13).

One day, while Ghulab Goongo was holding a banner in his hands in Abpara Market that read, "Islam, where are you? Everyone is worried about you in the village!"(Amar Jalil, 2004: 15), he was arrested by the police. The police considered him to be an agent of the Indian secret service, RAW. The police statement reads, "Ghulab Goongo has confessed that his name is Ghulab Rai, and his friend Jogi's actual name is Tara Chand, and they work for the Indian secret service, RAW." The police say that he confessed that "he and his friend Jogi came on a mission to blow up Islamabad…Police are looking for his friend who is an absconder." Jogi finds a newspaper in which it was reported that " the police acquired from Jogi's house, the chief of this terrorist gang, the manual for teaching terrorism a book called, the Terrorist which indicates that they were terrorists" (Amar Jalil, 2004: 106). Jogi reacts by saying, "The Terrorist! (Is) it a book of terrorism? It was written (in the newspaper) that in the book, The Terrorist, the details of the world's most dangerous and fierce terrorists are given, and modern methods of terrorism are explained in detail. Tara Chand alias Jogi and his friend Ghulab Rai provided training to terrorists in their house and made them read the book, The Terrorist" (Amar Jalil, 2004: 106). Jogi says, "Lambrick's book, The Terrorist, is the book of outstanding struggle of the Hurs against the British. It is an historical document. To indicate such a fantastic book as a book of terrorism, the investigation agencies have shown their ill will" (Amar Jalil, 2004: 106, italic and bold emphasis mine).

Irrespective of the obvious pun on the word "Islam" and the way Amar Jalil's character look for Islam in Islamabad during Zia regime's effort to impose Islamic Law in the country, what I am concerned with here is the author's assertion that he sees the novel, "The Terrorist" as a book that chronicles the bravery of the Hurs. This to me shows how deeply colonial representation has penetrated the rhetoric of postcolonial Sindhi literature: even when a piece of literature (like Jalil's) is written with the aim to narrate postcolonial violence of the state (the Zia regime) it can find no place to celebrate Sindhi national resistance other than a novel written by a colonial administrator. In this representational scheme, the violence of the postcolonial state is described as a narrative of injustice and violence, yet the narrative of the colonial government's violence, written by Lambrick who was responsible for the violence against the Hurs, becomes a narrative of heroism, making Lambrick a hero. Ironically Hurs become heroes, while Lambrick becomes a hero-maker (kingmaker of history), and The Terrorist becomes the script of heroism.

In conclusion, [we take a court case], Crown vs Matoo Khaskheli, and Adal Naich (1944), to propose the complexities present in primary sources and how a re-reading may provide us ambivalent interpretations of colonial archives. Colonial archives need to be checked for ambiguities and ambivalences rather than fixity of meaning, especially while referring to the Hur question in Sindh.

[The court documents show that Matlo,] the accused, denied allegations of terrorism, but admitted "criminality" [gambling, fornication, etc], and testified that he is a Hur. What does this mean? In this context, responses to the judge/prosecutor fall in the "spaces between civil address and colonial articulation" -- the desire for a unified subject (terrorist/colonial or nationalist/Sindhi) are denied by the ambivalent speech of the accused. His reasons for the evidence - "I am a gambler, a fornicator, a debtor, and that is why they hate me" - offer an entirely different rationale, evoke a social space somewhat tangential to the legal one, a space which lies beyond the colonial archive and its post colonial copy. It is in and through this ambivalent articulation that a critical Sindhi history must be written to find out the meanings of what it means to be a Hur.

– The writer is a graduate student of Anthropology at the University of Texas in Austin.

 

 

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