Have been silent about the many developments that have been taking place with regard to the regularization and restoration of the village to the Khaskelis as they were so confident of “winning” this final round — because one of their own representatives whom they trust implicitly (and who has since become a minister without portfolio) had promised it would happen, and we were not supposed to ‘rock the boat’. We have repeatedly warned them not to bank on promises too much because even if their rep was trustworthy, it didn’t automatically follow that others whose agreement and help he needed would be the same, and we would ultimately have to resort to legal means again. As it turned out, he failed; not for lack of trying.
It has been over a month and half since Vali Dad died after a heart attack in front of the press club, and the same day several Sindh ministers including the Chief Minister promised in writing they would get their village back. It hasn’t happened and it won’t because a series of delay tactics and dirty tricks were used all this time — which details I’ll give in my next e-mail as it’s a long story; also because I’m supposed to wait until a final report (explained below) come out. The new minister recently had a thundering row with the CM’s secretary who finally blurted out the same story Varyam Faqir claimed when the issue first came up — that the village never existed and was created unauthroisedly only recently.This after having submitted all the verified inquiries and reports starting from decades ago ! He also stated that the Khaskelis would have to legally prove that they and their descendants were the original inhabitants !
The Khaskelis are in dire straits. Eight to ten of them constantly have to keep vigil here to keep the issue alive. They are financially ruined as their work and earnings have been disrupted. I don’t know how long we can keep feeding them. Not much beyond this month, I think. In the meantime we are waiting for the lawyer to devise the next step in the court. It was held up because we belatedly discovered that suo moto notice of the case had been taken. But the media was not informed nor do we still have a report of the outcome of the inquiry that was ordered. What we learnt was that those who conducted the inquiry were Varyam Faqir’s men in government. The lawyer had to refer to Islamabad for the report and we’re expecting it any day. Once that is in hand, we’ll know what legal step we can take.
In case anyone is wondering why the govt is avoiding giving a measly 12 acres back to the villagers. — Because most villages are considered the ‘territory’ of the local or district feudal, and if a single one becomes autonomous, others may rise up and follow suit. That’s what we also want, but it entails a lot of sacrifice — loss of livelihood and therefore hunger, not to speak of intimidation and physical attacks – for poor villagers to make such a move. Fewer and fewer NGO supporters are coming to the weekly meetings. The electronic media has lost interest in them — they need someone dying or something exciting to jog them. The waderas inside and outside government have no intention of allowing the change of status quo after they have successfully camouflaged feudalism in ‘elected democracy’ garb. Even if the urban ministers were genuine, which we believe they were, the others were lying all along.