GM Syed was born in 1904 in Dadu district of Sindh. He became the President of Muslim League in Sindh in 1943 and helped pass the Pakistan resolution of 1940 in Sindh assembly. Despite being one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, GM Syed was always critical of mixing religion with the state and advocated for the greater political and cultural autonomy of federating units. As a result, he opposed the idea of a national Islamic identity and advocated a much more ethnic, cultural, mystical Sindhi nationalism instead. The figures of Muhammad Bin Qasim and Raja Dahir, in particular, highlight such differences between GM Syed and the state. As opposed to the state’s celebrations of Muhammad Bin Qasim’s victory over a “villainous” Raja Dahir, Syed celebrated Dahir as a local ruler of Sindh who was violently removed by the Arab invaders under Muhammad Bin Qasim. Syed was also opposed to such dictatorial policies as the formation of One Unit under General Ayub. As a result of such political and cultural differences, Syed was often persecuted by the state authorities. He remained in jail and under house arrest for more than 30 years and died under captivity in 1995.

GM Syed was a scholar with more than 65 books on the religion, culture and politics of Sindh. His political and cultural differences with the state are, therefore, deeply informed by his in depth scholarship and understanding. Through the figures like GM Syed, the state should recognize the loopholes and violence involved in its cultural and political impositions and should embrace diverse, cultural, local cultural expressions instead of criminalizing them.