When injustice surpasses a certain limit the resulting vitriol of hatred is bound to give out toxic fumes. The plight of Balochistan can be framed in this same equation. After decades of partiality against the most improvised province of our land, if now their odium spiked sentiments hit our national pride like a slap we don’t have the right to retort back. Nationalists? Separatists? Deprivation, discrimination and abysmal violation of human rights are three terms summing up the tale of that unfortunate province.
After all this, demanding patriotic spirit from those people is quite a lofty stipulation on our part.

The statistics unveiled by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) are nothing short of blood-curdling. According their report, around 188 decomposed dead bodies have so far been dumped in desolate places in different parts of Balochistan since June 4, 2010. Most of them included students, political activists and eminent figures from different walks of life. Target killings have become more of a routine trend there. The instability has paved way for further chaos, kidnappings and deeper degeneration of people to various hard-line groups. Some pro-security establishment while some with separatist proclivity. Their motto might be different, but they akin at one point: all armed, all enjoying a free hand to kill or uproot anyone contradicting their ideology. And the continued silence and indifference of government after all this only reflects back the 1971 episode. Possibly the same outcome as well.

Looking back to 2005, all we see are the cracked sketches of a flawed policy. Coercion was never, never the answer to the brewing turbulence in that region. Further spicing up the condition was the wacky political strategy of aliening with tribal lords, or turning them over one other to serve the cause. The role of central government here isn’t some murky mystery. Clandestinely swiping off political activists and nationalist forces while systematically shoving up pro-establishment ones in the political stairs was a carefully drafted maneuver. Its prolificacy although remains an altogether different story. A matter which required patient political negotiations for its settlement was met by ferocious blows and screwed policies. If now the centre and Balochistan stare up at each other with war like hostility, it owes a lot to self planted seeds.

What always remains failed to be understood was the axiological reality that an idea cannot be curbed down through brunt means. People may die, but their words remain immortal. Etching their potency further down; guiding thoughts, altering history. Professor Ghulam Hussain Saba Dashtayari’s alleged murder did all but silence him. It further added to volatility of the public spirit, like petrol on fire. Previously for the Baloch people his words underlined an ideology, after getting blood soaked they attained divinity.

What could have saved the astringency of the situation was attention in terms of economic, administrative, political and social reforms. Above all eliminating the sense of deprivation and negligence strongly felt by Balochis, treating them as equals in the stream of state affairs. As explicitly remarked by Governor Balochistan Zulfiqar Ali Magasi:-

“Although I am a representative of the centre I was never taken into confidence by Islamabad on Balochistan issue and my suggestions for resolving the issue were always ignored”

Not only was this, but endeavors the likes of muffling the voice of Baloch people underscored all but sanity. The previous futile attempts of banning their notable online newspaper websites and online journals are a point to this case.

Coming to a critical reality, nationalists cannot be denied as having an absolute existence now. They are not restricted to one two, or something contained within two digit figures that can be plucked out like weeds. They are a living force in Balochistan, with passionate backing from the general public there. The continued obstinacy of centre against involving them in the any sort of dialogue process only impedes the possibility of a much needed political discourse.

A stable affluent Balochistan in not only the right of those people but accentuates our prime interest as well. The government will have to prioritize Baluchistan essentially in economic centralization. Saying this might be parallel to over simplifying a complex problem to single line formulas but given the current scenario, it’s a now or never option. While half-hearted nature of government attempts in this regard does hold factual grounds, the persistent backwardness of that region in economic spectrum owes a lot to the tribal monopoly as well. The failure of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s 1972 visit to Balochistan accentuates the same embedded vice of feudalistic system. Not only was it ensured that he was welcomed by violent riots and unconcealed abhorrence but his avid plans of dramatic economic reforms were also reduced to cold ashes. Even today, one of the greatest obstructions in developmental work is the inter-tribal feuds. The statistics of such employees killed in the brutal crackdowns of ‘ethnic cleansing’ lingers casually in the red zone. These ringing figures hardly stimulate any motivation for the manually and technically skilled workers from both within and outside Balochistan to run such risk. Let alone any possible investment influx, which at present makes Cinderella’s dreams appear at short hand.

The ineptitude of provincial government also constitutes the cardinal basis for the non-materialization of the economic reforms. Quite truly, the present government cannot be awarded medal of performance for its counter policy regarding Balochistan insurgency. But at the same time it cannot be unduly grilled in statistics pertaining to their share from National Finance Commission Award. Even with the spirally downward national economy, there had been no cuts in Balochistan funds. In the fiscal year 2010-11 Balochistan alone received Rs152billion which amounts to Rs100billion increase from that of the financial year 2004-05. Additionally the increase of Balochistan share from 5.01 to 9.09% in the 7th NFC (2011) also grades major monitory figures. Overlooking a couple of years back, a Rs10billion grant was also released by federal government in the year 2009.

So now the million dollars question: where did all these million dollars go? Stuck in ever-pending projects or else lightning up the pockets of the provincial leadership. Ironically most of which is residing in luxurious sanctuaries way outside Balochistan. The unchecked corruption and non-translation of financial grants to visible welfare projects does raise serious questions about the competence of provincial government. So yes while Federal government undoubtedly has a part in the present mess, the administrative vacuum in Balochistan holds credits to the provincial government a great deal as well.
Since now it’s a settled notion that military operations are no solution to the Balochistan insurgency, the only option left is the rectification of its political and administrative structure. The centre will have to put efforts to align the provincial managerial and directorial posts in order along with transparent verification of the allocated funds. The provincial government will have to ascertain the satisfactory execution of all developmental reforms to grass root levels. Also most importantly, Baluchistan has to now to be given what it was denied for decades: greater control over its mineral resources. Concrete measures will now have to be taken in order to address the current Balochistan insurgency instead of mourning ‘foreign factors’. They might be the derivatives but the spinal ailment attributes to us. Only by assembling our own home in order outsiders can be kept at bay.

Yes, we survived 2011 without Balochistan breaking off us. Provided circumstances remain the same, it will be the highest level of indiscretion to deem that fate will spare this noxious stroke this time as well.

20 thoughts on “Balochistan on Fire

  1. Yes, corruption is a big problem world wide.

    Here in the UK the news international papers and media have been found to be making financial rewards to the Police for information and there are also Politicians who were supposed to be impartial in the judgement of the buying of BskyB by Murdoch only for it to be found that the people supposed to be impartial at all times had a back-handed contact with Murdoch, so contaminating the process.

    The servant who was in contact has been fired while the posh boy Jeremy Hunt is denying he had any kind of contact with Murdoch and had acted scrupulously on recommendations made by independent parties.

    Frankly it stinks, but it goes to show corruption can be found even here in the UK!

    What has been happening in Baluchistan hasn’t made it into the news here, but I am not surprised as venality and corruption is an infectious disease while Xenophobia seems to be rampant throughout most of the Middle East.

    No wonder we have so many people from Pakistan turning up as shop keepers and taxi drivers here in the UK…

    Love and hugs!


  2. In Pakistan, it the case of the right hand doesn’t need to know what the left is doing. Corruption and denial of justice is ripe, not just in Pakistan but other parts of South Asia. The question I would like to ask is when will the change come, and after what calamity?

  3. Every word pulsate with an honest truth that a lot of us pretend does not exist. Injustice of any form, abuse of power, cruelty against a fellow human being. These are all works of evil, cause pain and anguish. It has to stop. We all need to work together to stop it in whatever way we can. It’s not easy but it’s possible. I admire your courage, in fighting for your beliefs. I wish you all the best…Thanks.

    • yes Baloch area is specifically a LOT controlled in our media, most journalists aren’t allowed to cover the red zones there. I only shudder to think of what more horrors lie there..

  4. I always enjoy reading your words Habiba
    And I’m very pleased to see that you are still here and writing with such talent and passion

    Wishing you a beautiful day Habiba x

  5. Habiba, very well written!
    The situation in Balochistan is getting worse and yet our leadership fails to take notice of it. As you rightly point out, the nationalists are not a small group of rebels anymore, the civil society and the nascent middle class in the province are waking up to the idea that separation from Pakistan will be the only guarantee of their rights and freedoms. Unfortunately the civilian leadership is too weak to tackle the issue and the armed forces who make all the decisions don’t have the right mindset. We might just be witnessing another Bangladesh type situation in this lifetime.

    • You have summed up the critical reasoning background very well Faiza. In this tug of war between civilian and military forces, only helpless suffer. We as spectators only get to see how the state power engines decide the fate of Balochistan.

  6. I too wonder what goes on that we don’t hear about…especially when we are subject to very partial news channels…especially here in the US.

  7. When someone says ” Another Bangladesh”, it would make both the Bangladeshi and the Balochi laugh out loud. The Bengali is more attached to his tongue, than any other peoples on earth. And that’s not just because of the sweets or the food ( Patriotism is no more than a love of one’s native food – Lin Yutang ) but the language itself. It is said that Rabindranath Tagore, the only person who won a Nobel for literature in the sub-continent, is again the only person whose verses serve as the national anthem for two countries sharing a border anywhere globally, in that very same sub-continent.

    But the Lin Yutang observation about food, is after all equal to economics, and a political leadership can survive only if it seen to be providing that kind of security to the masses – the greatest good of the greatest number – to survive. In 1970, there occurred in what was then East Pakistan, one of the most destructive cyclones and floods in history, in which millions perished. This was followed in ’71 by the mandate in the elections, in which Mujibur Rehman ought to have led the government in PK, but the leadership handled the issue like hot putty in its fingers. Millions ( Muslims and Hindus, by the way ) moved across to the states in India of Tripura, Assam and West Bengal, and the then leader of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, went across on trips, pleading to various nations about this overwhelming human predicament, meeting with only deaf ears and closed eyes. Rest is history.

    But, as the IMF President Christine Lagarde said in some other context ” There is hope for the future “. If we look into our own sub-continent, we will find a way. If we look elsewhere, there is the risk of floundering. Act local, think global, as they say. We just have to step out on the street, anywhere in Karachi, Calcutta, Peshawar, Dhaka, Lahore or Mumbai ….and see the face of any kid out there, and the answers strike our conscience.

    • Thank you for your elaborate feedback, yes the answers mostly lie on grass root level. The whole picture of a country can be detailed form the face of those residing in the lowest step.

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