Peoples and Ethnic Groups: Interethnic Relations

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Pakistan is a unique country with a mixture of various ethnicities, languages, cultures, and religions. Ethnicity or identity (quam) is not only defined purely by a common cultural or genetic group, but also by tribes, families, geographic regions, and occupations. Differing ethnic groups wanting to secede from Pakistan at one time or another have created a rift in a national identity, causing many people to identify with a tribe instead of the nation. These types of identifiers include a sense of loyalty to a group that is essential to live.

Though Pakistan is composed of multiple ethnic groups who tend to indentify separately of one another and are generally found in their respective provinces (e.g. Baluchs live in Baluchistan), the different groups will still interact on a daily basis and even intermarry. Generally, these groups interact peacefully, but inter-ethnic relations have been strained. For instance, the Baluchs fought a war of succession with Pakistan in the 1970’s over a loss of identity and self-rule. Different ethnic groups in Pakistan have more influence and wealth than the other groups which has caused tension. The Sindhis, Baluchs, and Pashtuns have animosity towards the Punjabi who dominate the military and civil service sector. The immigrant Muhajir population who live in the Sindh Province tend to dominate government positions, causing conflict with the Sindhi over the inequality [6]. Like other countries around the world, Pakistan has different criminal organizations or gangs based on ethnic affiliations that will fight one another over power, wealth, religion, etc. Gaining attention recently is the Muhajir or Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), a Muhajir political party, which has transformed from a political group to a quasi gang that is violently attacking other ethnic groups in the cities throughout the Sindh province [7].

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