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Sindhis to hold week-long hunger protest during Shehbaz Sharif’s UN visit

Sindhis to protest against Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at UN headquarters in New York (Photo: Twitter)

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to New York will coincide with Sindhi groups holding protests, including a week-long hunger strike, in front of the UN headquarters. The Sindhi diaspora is protesting over “human rights abuses and man-made catastrophe of floods in Sindh”.

Sharif plans to attend the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) with Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Federal Minister for Broadcasting and Information Maryam Aurangzeb, and officials.

Sufi Laghari, Executive Director of the Sindhi Foundation, blamed the Pakistan government for the massive flooding in the country, saying the UN should investigate and audit humanitarian aid that has been given to Islamabad over the years. Laghari added that UN member nations should directly support the people of Sindh.

In a press release, Laghari announced that the week-long hunger strike will be held alongside the 77th UNGA session on September 13 and end on September 20.

Besides holding the Pakistani government accountable for the worst-ever floods the country has experienced, the Sindhi Foundation also highlighted human rights abuses by Pakistani security forces such as enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings of Sindhi nationalists and political dissidents.

The organisation also highlighted how young Sindhi Hindu girls are being forced into conversion to Islam.

The press release said: “… therefore, Sindhis have the right to exercise the right of self-determination and are at the liberty to declare independence from Pakistan. We appeal to the United Nations to appoint a special envoy to investigate and support the people of Sindh in their demand for the right of self-determination”.

The protests by the Sindhi Foundation are important as the UNGA 2022 is holding its first in-person summit of world leaders after a two-year disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dawn reports that Sharif will address the UNGA on September 23 and return to Pakistan the same evening. The newspaper did not say whether Sharif will meet US President Joe Biden.

The Sindhi Foundation said the nonviolent protest was meant to highlight the human rights violation and atrocities committed by Pakistan and its security agencies. Last year the Sindhi Foundation had organised a series of Sindh Long Marches in Canada to raise awareness on the poor human rights situation in the Sindh province.

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