My heart bleeds to wet the barren land of my miserable people in the hope that one day these lands will turn green and there will grow red flowers. I will gather the seeds of those flowers because these are from my blood.”
Sayed Zahoor Shah Hashmi, 1929-1978 (Baloch poet, writer, researcher, and linguist)
It has been a favourite pastime of Pakistan’s establishment and their pro-intellectual community and media to ignore the on-the-ground realities of Balochistan and instead blame prominent Baloch leaders for being an obstacle in the path of development and progress. This line of approach is totally unfair. Unfortunately one of the writers in The Post, Mohammad Jamil, failed to present the true picture about Balochistan’s burning issues in his article entitled “Focus on Balochistan” (The Post, June 19, 2008).
A fifth army operation was started in Balochistan in March 2005. It was the then Interior Minister, Aftab Sherpao, of Pakistan who himself made a statement that in Balochistan only during 2006 as many as 4,000 political activist and leaders were arrested. At about the same time, officials of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) also released their report about illegal arrests, detentions and torture in Balochistan. Their report clearly mentioned, “hundreds of political parties members, students, doctors and tribal leaders have been detained by government security forces, many disappearing for months, even years, without trials in well documented cases. Some have been tortured or have died in custody.”
The respected writer should know better than those who live abroad. Baloch people want their rights and resources back and want full participation in all matters of Balochistan, from which they have been excluded for the last 60 years. One of the worst atrocities includes Pakistan testing its nuclear weapons and missiles in Balochistan.
Let’s start with the writer’s claim that Mr Bhutto wanted progress in Balochistan but Baloch Sardars and Nawab were obstacles. Let me refresh his memory that it was Mr Bhutto who dismissed, on February 12, 1973, the democratically elected Baloch nationalist government in Balochistan.
That government included one of the most secular, pragmatic and democratic leaders, Mir Ghous Baksh Bizenjo, who was the governor of Balochistan, while Sardar Attaullah Mengal was the chief minister of Balochistan. Bizenjo had warned Bhutto through the Speaker of the National Assembly not to become a ploy in the hands of the establishment and told him that though we will be removed from the scene “you will be buried under mounds of sands.”
Regardless of that warning by the icon Baloch nationalist leader Bizenjo, Bhutto started the fourth military operation during his civilian government and Assadullah Mengal, a student of Karachi University (son of Sardar Attaullah Mengal), was kidnapped by intelligence agencies, and his dead body was never found.
In other words, be it a civilian government or a military regime, Pakistani hands have been soaked with Baloch blood since the forced annexation of Balochistan in 1948.
During General Zia’s rule, I was a student at Balochistan University. A Baloch student, Hameed Baloch, was executed in jail without the consideration of the court decision in his favour. These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, as the list is endless. It was Mr Zia who used billions of dollars of aid from the US for a “holy” war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. As if to kill two birds with one stone, he opened thousands of madrassas and trained mercenaries in Balochistan to confront the Baloch nationalist and seculars leaders. Today, those madrassas are the breeding ground and nurseries for the Taliban in Balochistan.
Pakistan’s coup leader and military general, President Pervez Musharraf started the fifth military operation in Balochistan that has brought the worst misery for the people of Balochistan, leaving tens of thousands of Bugti and Marri tribesmen displaced and homeless. Musharraf’s crimes include the assassination of former governor and chief minister of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. It was Musharraf who congratulated the military by saying “mission accomplished” in the media. Bugti was annihilated simply because he defended the Baloch rights and resources. It was Musharraf who used the US military aid for “war on terror” against the Baloch people.
Recently, Senate Deputy Chairman Jan Muhammad Jamali surprised the Senate in Islamabad by saying, “you (Islamabad) owe Balochistan Rs 800 billion in royalty since natural gas started flowing out of the province in 1955.” Further, Jamali demanded, “that account will have to be settled.” Otherwise “Balochistan may seek independence without autonomy.” Jamali’s honourable grandfather, Mir Jafar Jamali, joined the Muslim League in 1930, and the family was known to be Pakistan’s closest proxies in Balochistan. Jamali’s stand should come as a shock-and-awe to the civil-military establishment in Islamabad. If someone like Jan Mohammed Jamali is fed up of the injustices of Islamabad, you can imagine the seething anger in the rest of Balochistan.
This is the 21st century, and the world has become a global village. The sooner Islamabad resolves the burning issue of Balochistan by giving the people their birth rights, including the right to self-determination, the better it will be for everyone. Baloch can no longer be denied their rights, and their resources cannot be taken at gunpoint. Such colonial policy does not work in this day when laptops are more powerful than Kalashnikovs. Baloch Diaspora in North America and Western Europe are fully determined to expose the injustices and violations of human rights in Balochistan.
Therefore, pro-state journalists like Mohammad Jamil who are worried about the destabilisation of the country should ask themselves the question of why, for the last 60 years, has gas royalty has not been given to Balochistan and why Baloch people are more pro-independence rather than pro-state. The question is clear, and the answer is clear as well but when the question cannot be answered honestly the answer becomes complex. In exposing the truth about a hidden issue at hand, it is only simple freedom of speech and that is a clear answer to any question.
The writer is an activist of the Balochistan Human Rights Council of Canada.
Source: The Post (Post.com.pk)
Picture courtesy of Balochi Labzank