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.
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