From Subjects to Citizens: Society and the Everyday State in India and Pakistan 1947 - 1964

Sindh, Pakistan

Sindh, Pakistan’s southern-most province, offers a particularly interesting perspective on the issues being explored in our ‘Subjects to Citizens’ project.

Though not the country’s most populous province (up to 1971, that was East Pakistan, and then, subsequently, the Punjab), it contained by far and away the country’s largest city and (for much of the period under scrutiny) capital, Karachi – home to the federal government and key policy-making centre. Karachi’s hinterland – rural Sindh – meanwhile experienced its own far-reaching changes in terms of the kinds of economic, social and political developments taking place in the decades after 1947.

Partition-related migration, especially from parts of India being studied in this project - the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) and (in smaller quantities) Hyderabad (Deccan) - affected Sindh profoundly. While fewer in terms of sheer numbers than those who settled in West Punjab, the Urdu-speaking refugees, who made their homes in Sindh’s urban centres, had a disproportionate impact on life in the region. Later on, internal migration of other parts of Pakistan affected the balance in the countryside in a similar, if less extreme, way. Thus, Sindh, with its growing ethnic diversity, presents a range of responses to the kinds of nation-building initiatives, and rhetoric, deployed by Pakistan’s successive rulers after 1947. The fact that it was administered by a civil service that, certainly in the rural areas, was not composed of locals - that is Sindhis - created challenges in terms of administrative authority.

Map of Sindh

Pakistan, unlike India, did not hold its first general election until nearly 25 years after the state had been created. However, local elections held in Sindh and Karachi during the 1950s and 1960s reveal insights into the way in which politics and ideas about citizenship more generally were evolving, the kinds of political choices that were open to Pakistanis at the time, and the decisions that they were making.

Click here to go to the Resources Page for information on archival sources concerning Pakistan.