G M Syed
The News, 26th April 1995

From a one-time spearhead of the Pakistan Movement in Sindh to an embittered national-1st seeking new homeland for Sindhis, G.M. Syed represented, like many others, a leadership which had lost its illusions in the years following independence. The reasons for their sense of disenchantment varied, from the manner in which the scramble for power and pelf started to the inroads being made on the rights of some of the provinces. The leaders were drawn from across the entire political range, from those who supported Pakistan, to those who opposed it. Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, Mian Iftikharuddin, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Abdus Samad Achakzai, Prince Abdul Karim. The index is endless and reads like a who's who of Pakistan's opposition.

The transformation of G.M Syed from a dyed-in-the wool Muslim Leaguers to a hard-line nationalist was archetypal. It resulted not only from the collapse of political values in the jostling to cash the freedom check, but also from frustration over deviation from the charted course.

G.M. Syed's views hardened over the years like many others in his province, when he saw Sindh being overrun by people from other areas. Possibly he had a strong case to present, as Sindh, more than any other federating unit was having to make the most sacrifices.

He spent his life in espousing the cause of his people in the-jargon of extremism, even at a time when in residual Pakistan there was a trend towards accommodation. But the rise of a new Nationalism in urban Sindh brought G.M. Syed in conflict with a fresh challenge. It was probably this, which ended any chances of reconciliation. His statement in the last years of his life was unambiguous: he stood for an independent Sindh.

G.M. Syed, who had acquired his political instruction in the field during the stormy days of the freedom movement, was one of Pakistan's most astute politicians. Before his intellectual change, he was a provincial king-maker. After that, he stepped on the national stage, leading, along with other luminaries, the opposition in an atmosphere that was becoming increasingly stifling. The era of the generals resulted in his frequent incarceration, except during the time of the third military adventurer, Zia ul Haq, who tried to use him as a cat's paw against the PPP, ended up not only anointing him as a patriot, but also glossing over his transparent secessionist propagation.

The Sindhi leader remained a controversial figure throughout his life, aggravating it by the precipitate nature of his politics. He was not one given to seasonal change of views, but remained firm in his beliefs, right or wrong. Only history can give an honest verdict on him. For the moment, he must be seen within the totality of his life's contribution, not merely for wisps of evidence that would go against him. He belonged to a generation of leaders, who could have done much for the country, but were denied the opportunity by the small men at the helm of affairs, whose smallness made them blind to the good of others.

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