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Education, Conflict and the Mohajir Community

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

A/N: The following piece does not reflect the author's views in any shape or form. It is based on research and factual evidence deriving from external sources.

Pakistan and its history of constantly being delved in conflict certainly does not mix well with the plethora of communities within its population. As a result, the country has always been knee-deep in ethnic conflict, which goes well beyond just violence. In order to properly evaluate and understand the effect conflict has had on the Mohajir community in specific, it is first important to remember the link between economic disparity and education and how all of that is impacted by living in a conflict-riddled zone.

For starters, we begin our analysis right at the start, at independence, in 1947. Initially, the Mohajir community dominated a majority position in the All India Muslim League in pre-partitioned India, however, the formation of the constituent assembly of Pakistan marked the first step in the decline of an otherwise affluent community.


When the One-Unit policy was introduced in 1955, it was meant to balance out the number of Bengalis in the National Assembly, it somehow acted as means for the Punjabis to expand their job circuit. In 1958, when the military took control, it allowed the Punjabis to further their control over the economic sector, securing key positions for their co-ethnics. The final nail in the coffin was when the capital of the country was shifted from Mohajir inhabited Karachi, Sindh to Punjabi dominated Islamabad, shifting key positions in the country and marking the official decline of the Mohajirs.

With such key positions being trademarked for a particular ethnicity, economic barriers arose for the Mohajir community. Not only were they no longer represented in any cultural sector of Pakistan, where four major ethnicities are perpetuated, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtun, and Balochi, but the Mohajir community also became invisible. They had ethnic barriers blocking their chances at economic opportunities, meaning their chances at a decent education also became slimmer and slimmer as time passed.

When Bhutto under the 'Musawat Mohammadiya', or Islamic socialism, nationalized all sectors within the economy, education was also nationalized. This meant that under the Sindhi-dominated PPP government, all key positions in Sindh now went to Sindhis, who took over the already declining education sector.

Not only did Bhutto's regime ensure that key positions went out to Sindhis but it also made mandatory the learning of the Sindhi language within the educational curriculum. Henceforth, the Mohajir community already on an economic decline, cut off from major educational resources and chances, were forced to take on the identity of an entirely different community through the mandatory learning of their language.


To wrap it up and finally come to the point, conflict mostly if not always, leads to the decline of an already marginalized community. Mohajirs constitute a mere 7.6% of the total population, effectively making them an ethnic minority. Through the fact that Pakistan remained a conflict zone and under military rule for a good period of its early existence, ensured the military-dominated Punjabis to take over key economic positions, cutting minorities off. Without decent access to economic positions meant that affording proper education was also a difficult process, marginalizing the Mohajirs.

And while the Punjabi majority cut off economic opportunities, the Sindhi government took over the education sector and laid the foundation of ethnic identity cleansing, while cutting off key positions in the only area where Mohajirs existed to a concentrated degree.

However, when discussing the ethnic decline of one community, it is important to remember that the decline is not the fault of one particular ethnicity, To trace down the reasons for the decline, the political nuances of the country must be understood. In conflict riddled areas, regulation is next to impossible. With a threat to security and the country in a state of emergency, whoever takes power in whatever situation molds the country in accordance to their will, effectively developing the economic and therefore educational sectors in whatever way convenient.

Resources derived from: Waseem, Mohammad. “Ethnic Conflict in Pakistan: The Case of MQM.” The Pakistan Development Review, vol. 35, no. 4II, 1 Dec. 1996, pp. 617–629, 10.30541/v35i4iipp.617-629. Accessed 31 July 2020.

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Unfortunately, such marginalization of one ethnic community destroys the balance of the entire society, making inter-communal harmony nearly impossible. It basically seeds the roots for violence whereby the marginalized group, out of sheer frustration, resorts to violence. We have seen how Karachi has suffered as a result of countless wars between various ethnicities and religious groups. Be it the Muhajir-Pashtun conflict or Shia-Sunni conflict, each and every one of them has stemmed from the negative sentiments of deprivation. Such biasedness and hate has been further fueled within the boundaries of educational institutes where students belonging to different cultures have been ridiculed either by their teachers or fellow peers. The situation is saddening and requires great attention from the masses.


What's interesting is that I never looked at it this way - I never realised the immense bias towards schools in Punjab and against schools in Sindh... and how we might be able to trace it back to the historical timeline you outlined. It occurs to me that often when people talk about Lahore Grammar School, it's thought to be a highly-acclaimed and serious place for education, but when you look at Karachi Grammar School, people often talk about it as a place where elitist students go to party. I've seen this in LUMS too.

Of course, I don't mean to only talk about Lahore and Karachi as representations of Punjab and Sindh, and I don't mean to neglect other…

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