PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

The Global Social Network

Impact of Declining Muhajir Birth Rates on Pakistan's Demographics and Politics

Why did the Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) react so strongly to the PPP's aggressive stance in the recent Azad Kashmir elections that it decided to pull out of the ruling coalition? Why has the MQM leadership replaced "Mohajir" with "Muttahida" in its name? Why is the MQM so eager to expand its base from the exclusively Urdu-speaking urban Sindh to other provinces and regions?

To answer these questions, let's look at the changing demographics in Sindh province. A combination of rapidly declining birth rates of mohajirs and the rising tide of migration of northern pathans into urban Sindh is causing increasing concern among the leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement(MQM) about their party's future as an ethnic and regional political force. This concern has been further reinforced by the influx of new Pathan and Sindhi migrants into Karachi after the massive 2010 floods.

Pakistan's National Census data from 1981 and 1998 showed that the proportion of Urdu-speaking Muhajir population in Sindh declined from 24.1% to 21%. During the same period, the Sindhi-speaking population of Sindh rose from 55.7% to 59%, with the rest made up of Pathans and Punjabis. Given their higher level of education and consequently lower birth rates, it is expected that the 2011 national census now underway will show the proportion of Urdu-speakers in Sindh will go down still further to below 20%.

In his recently published book "Pakistan-A Hard Country", Professor Anatol Lieven of London's King's College has described Mohajirs as passionately believing in "Muslim nationalism on which Pakistan had been founded, and for the sake of which they had sacrificed so much."

I think we should all, including MQM, take serious notice of the above description of the native Urdu-speakers (aka Muhajirs) in Pakistan.

If MQM is really serious about appealing across ethnic lines to become a truly national force, it needs to start by genuinely reaching out to all ethnic groups in Karachi, a cosmopolitan urban center which represents a true microcosm of all of Pakistan.

I also think that MQM's genuine pursuit for the mantle of a national party should, therefore, be seen as a positive rather than a negative. It should be supported by all those who believe in a united and harmonious Pakistan which helps every Pakistani, regardless of ethnicity, achieve his or her dream of peace and prosperity as one people striving to make Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Pakistan a reality.

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Tags: Demographics., MQM, Muhajir, Pakistan, Politics


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