I Am Malala Questions and Answers
by Malala Yousafzai

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Who are the Mohajirs and why do they fight the Pashtuns?

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The Mohajirs are Muslim immigrants who originally migrated to Pakistan from India. The exodus of Urdu-speaking Mohajirs occurred directly after the Partition of India in 1947. A majority of the immigrants settled in Karachi, forming one of the city's most influential and economically successful communities. As emerging elites, the liberal Mohajirs clashed with the more conservative Pashtuns, who felt threatened by the newcomers' political and economic dominance in Karachi. To protect their interests, the Mohajirs formed a political organization called the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM); as Malala mentions, this movement is currently led from London by the exiled Altaf Hussain. As matters stand, both Pashtuns and Mohajirs think of the other as terrorists.

For their part, the Mohajirs maintain that the Pashtuns are working hand in hand with the Pakistani Army to target defenseless Mohajirs. Meanwhile, the Pashtuns claim that the Pakistani Army is pitting them against the Mohajirs in order to protect its own political supremacy. As part of Pakistan's ruling elite, the Pakistani military shows little inclination to retreat from its aggressive stances against both Mohajirs and Pashtuns. After all, political and social fragmentation are its main methods of retaining its hold on power in Pakistan. To further humiliate the Mohajirs in Pashtun eyes, the Pakistani establishment has even accused the Mohajirs of being directly funded by the Indian government. So the Mohajirs fight the Pashtuns to protect their political and social viability in Pakistan.

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