During the British Raj, Sindh, situated south of Punjab, was
the neglected hinterland of Bombay. The society was dominated
by a small number of major landholders (waderas). Most
people were tenant farmers facing terms of contract that were
a scant improvement over outright servitude; a middle-class barely
existed. The social landscape consisted largely of unremitting
poverty, and feudal landlords ruled with little concern for any
outside interference. A series of irrigation projects in the 1930s
merely served to increase the wealth of large landowners when
their wastelands were made more productive. Reformist legislation
in the 1940s that was intended to improve the lot of the poor
had little success. The province approached independence with
entrenched extremes of wealth and poverty.
There was considerable upheaval in Sindh in the years following
partition. Millions of Hindus and Sikhs left for India and were
replaced by roughly 7 million muhajirs, who took the
places of the fairly well-educated emigrant Hindus and Sikhs in
the commercial life of the province. Later, the muhajirs
provided the political basis of the Refugee People's Movement
(Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz--MQM). As Karachi became increasingly identified
as a muhajir city, other cities in Sindh, notably Thatta,
Hyderabad, and Larkana, became the headquarters for Sindhi resistance.
In 1994 Sindh continued to be an ethnic battlefield within Pakistan.
During the 1980s, there were repeated kidnappings in the province,
some with political provocation. Fear of dacoits (bandits)
gave rise to the perception that the interior of Sindh was unsafe
for road and rail travel. Sectarian violence against Hindus erupted
in the interior in 1992 in the wake of the destruction of the
Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, India, by Hindu extremists who sought
to rebuild a Hindu temple on the contested site. A travel advisory
recommending that foreigners avoid the interior of the province
remained in effect in early 1994.
Data as of April 1994