Baloch Nationalism: its origin, rise and future
Most people know Balochistan as simply 44 per cent land mass of Pakistan but what many people do not know is that it didn’t become 44 percent by choice; it wanted coexistence but was forced into merger. Moreover it isn’t ‘terra nullius’ a land without people but this is always conveniently forgotten. There are people too; people whose lives have been destroyed with the injustices that have been the norm since March 27th 1948 but unfortunately this is generally ignored by those in power and the people in general.
Balochistan is an unnecessary tragedy which wouldn’t and shouldn’t have happened. The Pakistani elite and establishment were extremely insecure and desired to implement and impose conformity in the name of religion. They never had imagined they could become rulers and unaware of the different and multiple social ethos they were confronted with, sought solutions by using force as their colonial masters had ingrained in them and that created everlasting resentment among people. They tried to ride rough shod over the different nations that had lived here for eons. Seemingly they believed that the Universe was created on 14th August and everything before that was null and void. Bengalis suffered immeasurably, while in Baluchistan the cost of this unnecessary tragedy in human, social and economic terms has been catastrophic. This rubai of Mir Taqi Mir expresses the pain of the past 66 years for majority of Baloch people.
Khoonaab-e-Kashi Madaam ki hai Hum Nay Har Subah Ghamoon main Sham ki hai Hum Nay Who Muhlat-e-Zeest keh Jis ko kehtay hain Umar Gharaz yunhi Mar Mar kay Tammam ki hai Hum Nay
(Trasnlation: We have sipped sips of sorrow and pain Sorrow it has been morn, night in pain What all cheerfully call existence or life We have spent the same dying in pain)
Balochistan takes name from Baloch and they complement each other. Baloch national identity is millenniums old and with passage of time it has been reinforced by Baloch resistance to foreign aggressors be they Persian, Afghan, British or Pakistani. It has now crystallized into its most potent and all encompassing form thanks to their resistance to Pakistani oppression.
To understand why Baloch people resisted Pakistan’s attempts to subdue them we will have look at Balochistan’s past. A brief look at Baloch history will help us to understand the present and enable us to face the future. To even feel the pulse of future we have understand the past.
Nations are defined by the cultures and all have their own qualities. Culture is what we are; it is a reflection of our actions because culture isn’t something external; it doesn’t exist independently of us. What we stand for, what we oppose and resist, what we believe in and how we conduct ourselves in our daily lives represent not only us but our culture as well. We cannot be judged apart from our culture and neither can our culture be judged apart from us. What we do and how we live represents our culture. We represent our culture with our actions and not with our words and empty platitudes. To be a Baloch you have to live by the values that make you a Baloch; Baloch culture is what a Baloch does.
The Baloch history of resisting aggressors forms the crux of its culture and they are brought up in an ethos that equates freedom with dignity. Children are taught to be stoic and independent because the hard life in the mountains and deserts has no place for dependents. Baloch pride in their stoic approach to life, and I have seen Baloch bury their killed relatives without a trace of emotion on their faces. The Baloch way of life makes him independent as he has to battle to survive against the odds of an unforgiving terrain and basic economic conditions.
Question about where, when and how the Baloch came to Balochistan abound. Various influential tribes which wielded authority were spread over Balochistan and around mid 1600 a Baloch Confederacy took shape under the Khan’s of Kalat. This Baloch confederation prospered and strengthened under Naseer Khan Noori (1749-1794).
The confederation thrived under his successors but with entry of British East India Company the scenario changed as it started to exploit differences between people on sub-continent and used force where it could to establish its rule. Interestingly of the total East India Company 350,358 men army in 1857 the British officers numbered only 37,719 while Indians numbered 311,038. They were never in numbers to conquer a region as vast as the Indian sub-continent so they effectively used money and intrigue to make up for lack of numbers. The British eyed Balochistan for use as stepping stone to Afghanistan so the British army returning from the first Anglo-Afghan war attacked Kalat on November 13th 1839 where Mehrab Khan ruled on excuse that Baloch tribes harassed their forces, he resisted bravely and was martyred; November 13th is observed as ‘Martyrs Day’ in Balochistan.
The Baloch resistance was unorganized and sporadic but persistent. In May and August 1840 British detachments were wiped out by the Marris in Battles of Sartaaf and Nafusk respectively. Again in 1859 and 1862 the Marris fought decisive battles at Mawand and defeated the joint forces of Mir Khudadad Khan of Kalat and British. Towards end of WWI the British anxious for expendable cannon fodder asked Baloch tribes for recruits but the Marris refused and that resulted in Battles of Gumbaz in 1917 and Harab in 1918; Marris suffered heavy casualties as they faced machineguns with flintlocks and swords and had tied the ends of their shirts so avoid retreat.
These days it is alleged that RAW, Mossad, CIA etc help Baloch. I wonder if the Baloch who fought British army were supported by RAW too. The fact is that the Baloch resent yoke and resist while Pakistani establishment wants them to docilely accept their fate as a colony of Pakistan.
The Baloch not only militarily resisted the British but were politically active as well. In 1920 Abdul Aziz Kurd formed the “YOUNG BALOCH” movement which remained underground till 1926. Then Yusuf Magsi formed the Anjumman-e-Itehaad- Balochistan; then Kalat State National Party in which among others were Mir Ghous Baksh Bizenjo, Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Abdul Karim Shorish was formed. All demanded an independent Balochistan. Ahmad Yar Khan who became the Khan on December 20th 1933 supported the Anjumman. Though British restricted political activities and leaders faced exile but the political struggles didn’t wane.
The Treaties of 1841, 1854 and 1876 and the subsequent alterations and the over-riding interests of Britain not withstanding all accepted Khanate’s independent status and continued till in 1947. Detailing all that happened till 1947 would take time so we fast forward and only mention that Jinnah as a lawyer represented Ahmad Yar Khan’s efforts for independence at legal forums. On 4th August 1947, “The Standstill Agreement” between Pakistan, the British and Balochistan was signed and the sovereign status of Balochistan was accepted. The Khan declared Kalat independent on 11th August 1947.
A written constitution was promulgated and the Darul Umra and Darul Awam declared Balochi as the national language. Assembly sessions were held in September and December 1947 and favouring alliance rejected accession to Pakistan. On December 14th 1947 Darul Awaam passed a Resolution reaffirming its intention to remain independent and not to accede under any circumstances. Ghaus Baksh Bizenjo made a landmark speech there which is still considered as a valid argument for independence of Balochistan.
He said, "We have a distinct civilization and a separate culture like that of Iran and Afghanistan. We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by virtue of being Muslims we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan then Afghanistan and Iran, both Muslim countries, should also amalgamate with Pakistan.
We were never a part of India before the British rule. Pakistan’s unpleasant and loathsome desire that our national homeland, Balochistan should merge with it is impossible to consider. We are ready to have friendship with that country on the basis of sovereign equality but by no means ready to merge with Pakistan. We can survive without Pakistan.
But the question is what Pakistan would be without us? I do not propose to create hurdles for the newly created Pakistan in the matters of defense and external communication. But we want an honorable relationship not a humiliating one. If Pakistan wants to treat us as a sovereign people, we are ready to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation. If Pakistan does not agree to do so, flying in the face of democratic principles, such an attitude will be totally unacceptable to us, and if we are forced to accept this fate then every Baloch son will sacrifice his life in defense of his national freedom.”
Convinced that the Khan would not accede Pakistan on March 18th signed separate instruments of Accession with Kalat’s feudatories states of Lasbela and Kharan and Makran. This fraudulent accession robbed Kalat of more than half its territory and access to the sea. On 26th March 1948 Pakistan army moved into Pasni, Jiwani, and Turbat. Khan capitulated on March 27th and signed instrument of accession though he was not authorized to take such a basic decision as the Kalat Assembly had categorically rejected forfeiting independence of Balochistan on any pretext. The sovereign Baloch State lasted only 227 days. The forced merger of Kalat State with Pakistan which ended three hundred years of independent and semi-independent Baloch State was the darkest day in Baloch peoples’ history, they observe 27th March as Black Day.
Resentment at annexation led to armed resistance; on May 16th Prince Abdul Karim, Khan’s younger brother joined by Mohammad Hussain Anka, Qadir Baksh Nizamani and Malik Saeed Dehwar decided to lead the national liberation struggle and migrated to Afghanistan but was refused help there. The Khan fearing for his own position soon disowned him. Abdul Karim naively believing promises returned with followers but were ambushed and captured near Harboi Mountain, and sentenced to varying terms in prison. In spite of its apparent failure this resistance showed the Baloch people that if they were to survive as a nation they would have to continue with armed struggle.
As a replacement for independent Balochistan a make do Balochistan States Union of Kalat, Makran, Lasbela and Kharan was formed on 11th April 1952 with a Vazir-e-Azam, a President and a Centre approved Cabinet of 5 members. Its Legislative Assembly was to have 28 elected members and 12 appointed Sardars. The BSU didn’t get to be implemented completely as at February 1954 Sibi Darbar some Sardars demanded its dissolution consequently it was merged with Pakistan on June 16th 1954. Then under ONE UNIT plan it was merged in West Pakistan in November 1955.
To suppress any opposition, Baloch leaders like Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo were incarcerated in Kulli Camps and many like Sher Mohammad Marri were refused entry into Balochistan but they failed to curb feelings of resentment against Pakistan. In October 1957 Ahmad Yar Khan convened a meeting of 35 Baloch Sardars at Palace Hotel Karachi and demanded end of ONE UNIT and formation of new province of Balochistan. Such demands perturbed the establishment and the October 1958 Martial Law was imposed on plea that Khan wanted to secede with Afghan and Iranian support. Kalat was once again attacked and Khan arrested.
The Baloch people resented this injustice and Nawab Nauroz Khan went to mountains demanding Khan’s release and One Unit’s dissolution. He had some 700-1000 men under his command and had a series of clashes with the army. In April 1959 a platoon of Pishin Scouts was wiped out and later a convoy was attacked some 30 miles South of Quetta. Unable to subdue him they resorted to treachery; Doda Khan his nephew brought Quran with assurances that his demands would be met and amnesty granted. Instead Nawab and his 163 men were arrested and 7 persons including his two sons were hanged at Hyderabad and Sukkur Jails on 15th of July 1960; they were the first martyrs of Baloch national struggle. Nauroz Khan and his juvenile son Jalal Khan were awarded life terms. The bodies of four Shaheeds hanged at Hyderabad were received by my uncle Mir Rasool Bakhsh Talpur and after funeral rites transported to Balochistan as relatives of the deceased weren’t there, moreover people feared retribution from Martial Law regime.
In 1962 exiled Mir Sher Mohammad Marri jumped bail in Sindh and went to Balochistan to organize armed resistance in the Marri and Bolan area; while Ali Mohammad Mengal did the same in Mengal area. It was Sher Mohammad Marri who kept the flame of resistance burning by defying Pakistan’s attempts to bring Marris under heel with help of local elders including Doda Khan who was the regent when Khair Bakhsh was a minor. Sher Mohammad’s defiance ensured that Pakistan lost its writ over Marri area and blazed the trail for organized struggle. .Ayub Khan attempting to neutralize Khair Bakhsh Khan and Ataullah Mengal’s radical politics and influence in respective tribes appointed Doda Khan as Marri and Karam Khan as Mengal Sardar but in 1963 both were assassinated by tribesmen who resented removal of their Sardars. This low key insurgency continued till ouster of Ayub Khan in 1969; One Unit was annulled and Balochistan became a province. Under amnesty Sher Mohammad Marri too after a decade returned home. December 1970 elections were won by the National Awami Party and Jamiat-e-Ulma-Islam in Balochistan. In May 1972 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto reluctantly made Ataullah Mengal the Chief Minister; he did not want the Baloch Nationalists ruling in Balochistan. The Shah of Iran too was unhappy with Baloch having a government which he knew would give rise to similar aspirations in the Iranian occupied Balochistan. Consequently with support of Jam Ghulam Qadir of Lasbela, establishment’s loyal representative and a staunch anti-Baloch rights politician, problems were created for the government and to put pressure on them Punjab’s Governor Ghulam Mustafa Khar recalled all the officers from Punjab stationed there. All sorts of lame excuses were found to harass Ataullah’s government. In January 1973, the Jam alleging persecution by Mengal government created chaos by disruption of communications and cutting telephone lines. As government levies and police refused to control them, Dehi Muhafizs organized by the provincial government were sent in. On February 8, Bhutto sent in the army, ostentatiously to prevent clashes between what he called the Bizenjo-Mengal Lashkar and supporters of Jam. The army instead of controlling the trouble makers confronted the Dehi Muhafizs. While this happened in full glare of publicity, the Marri and Mengal areas were being blockaded on the quiet and people being denied even essential commodities. Marris bought their rations from Sibi, Lehri and Talli blockade of these towns by militias created dire shortages for the people who were already suffering from a prolonged severe drought. The people were being pushed to the brink, and this is not hearsay for I was in there then. To ensure the final blow the high drama of the Iraqi Embassy’s arms find was enacted. Rafi Raza Sahib told me that the government had full knowledge about arms arrival in Karachi; they allowed the transportation of the same to Islamabad. The military attaché Nasir Al-Saud at whose residence the arms were discovered disappeared three days before the find. On February 10, Pakistani authorities with media in tow raided the military attaché residence and found a huge cache of arms. On February 12, Mengal’s government was unjustly and illegally dismissed although it had 13/7 majority; the NWFP government resigned in protest. My uncle Late Mir Rasool Bakhsh Talpur, then Governor of Sindh resigned on the 13th as minions of Bhutto alleged that my father Mir Ali Talpur too was involved in the arms for Baloch; my presence in Marri area was by then known and became the reason for these allegations. The dismissal of Mengal government and increasingly strict blockade of Marri area culminated in the Tandoori incident, (near Marri area), on May 18, 1973 when eight Sibi Scouts were killed in an ambush. Three days later army ferried by helicopters landed in Mawand and General Tikka Khan promised to quell the rebellion within 72 hours. Those 72 hours have stretched way beyond their estimates. Meanwhile Bhutto anxious to put the constitution in place kept up a charade of talks with Baloch leaders and the moment constitution was promulgated on the 14th of August 1973. Interestingly of the five Balochistan MNAs only Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo and Abdul Haq signed it, while Sardar Khair Bakhsh Marri, Mrs Jennifer Musa and Dr Abdul Hayee did not. My father, Mir Ali Ahmed Talpur, also didn’t sign it. Within hours, emergency was declared and Ardeshir Cowasjee Sahib tells us: “So, it was grandly promulgated at noon on Independence Day, with much joy and jollity. At 1600 hours that same day, Prime Minister Bhutto ordered the president he had appointed the meek and gentlemanly Fazal Elahi Chaudhry to sign an order, which was notified in the Gazette of Pakistan, Extra, on Aug 15, 1973, No.F.24(1)/73-Pub. By this order the proclamation of emergency issued on November 23, 1971 was declared to be still in force.” The fundamental rights were trampled upon and on the 16th the entire top Baloch leadership was incarcerated. The army conducted operations all over Balochistan but concentrated more on the Marri area where most of actions against it occurred. Iran helped with helicopter gunships, materials and money to stamp out resistance which it feared would spillover. The military operations forced many Baloch mainly Marris to migrate to Afghanistan. Disappearances were rife then too; among them were Asadullah Mengal son of Ataullah and his friend Ahmad Shah who were abducted on 6th February 1975. Duleep Dass son of Air Commodore (ret) Balwant Dass along with Sher Ali Marri was picked up by army intelligence at Belpat in early 1975 and their fate remains unknown. There were many many more. There is no closure for relatives of a missing person; whenever I go to pay my respects to ‘Johnny’ Duleep Dass’s 92-year-old mother. Her first words are, “How’s my Johnny?” She still believes he is alive. Despite strokes she has had the memory and pain of disappeared son refuses to go away; this pain is eternal and only ends with those who suffer it. During this four year conflict both Baloch and army suffered heavy casualties. After Bhutto was ousted Zia released the Baloch leaders but last of all expecting concessions yet got none. He also announced general amnesty while all others Baloch in exile in Kabul returned but Marris who had suffered most and didn’t trust Pakistan decided to stay on in Afghanistan. The Marris decided to stay on although they fully understood that the life of refugees is extremely vulnerable because of the uncertainty regarding each and every aspect of life in the host country specially when the host itself is overwhelmed by problems as Afghanistan was then there is not much that it can do. The children, women and the elderly suffer most. When epidemic like measles strikes the devastation is overpowering and it takes a heavy toll of a malnourished populace. The Marris were there for some 15 years and those years for them can be counted as the lost years. Nawab Khair Bakhsh came to Afghanistan in December 1981 and lived for a decade there with some 12-13 thousand Baloch refugees until overthrow on Dr. Najibullah by Mujahidins in 1992. During this period the Baloch resistance was in dormancy but was preserved. After they returned to Balochistan following fall of Kabul to Mujahidins parliamentary politics became the trend and even Nawab Khair Bakhsh’s sons, despite his reservations, became ministers. He however did not disband the camps in Marri area. The Baloch national struggle was apparently over but it wasn’t in fact. With Musharraf’s arrival in 1999 the attitude towards Baloch became overtly hostile. In year 2000 Khair Bakhsh was arrested on trumped up charges of murder of Justice Mohammad Nawaz of BHC. This created resentment among Baloch who realized that the parliamentary politics would bear no fruits. The wisdom of not disbanding the groups in Marri area became apparent to those who had doubted it. The Baloch Student Organization (BSO) in spite of internal differences continued to play a pivotal role in creating political awareness and it was the BSO-Azad of Dr. Allah Nazar which despite odds continued to struggle. In 2004 there was simmering friction between Akbar Bugti and establishment the matters came to a head when Dr. Shazia Khalid’s honour was violated in Sui at start of 2005. The Bugti tribesmen resented this and attacked installations; resulting in massive retaliation by Pakistan. After Dr. Shazia’s incident Akbar Bugti was totally alienated from the state he had long supported. Musharraf threatened the Baloch nationalists that this was not seventies they wouldn’t know what hit them. Interestingly when he went to Kohlu in December 2005 he was received with rockets by the Baloch. The rockets were fired by the BLA and its leader Balach Marri later sent a message to his father Khair Bakhsh asking if had done the right thing was instead asked why had he missed. Musharraf’s Mega-schemes of Gwadar and other projects created more misgivings as the Baloch felt that all this was being done to engineer demographic changes which would eventually leave them out on a limb. Gwadar was being militarized too; its airport is spread on 6500 acres while London’s Heathrow where a plane lands or takes off every 46 seconds at peak time is only 2,965 acres. There was such a mad land grab in Gwadar that in October 2006 the Supreme Court (SC) cancelled all allotments still the grab continued. Only after attacks on Chinese engineers and security forces did the land appear less appealing. In November 2007 Sartaj Aziz asked Balochistan government to sell 70000 hectares to Arab prices for their hunting pursuits. He also asked for 500000 acres of land in Sonmiani at price of rupee one per acres for a port and a city. A large area of Hingol Park was earmarked as PAF firing range. Had not the Baloch resisted encroachments on their rights and land there would have been huge influx of people and they would have become an insignificant minority by now. All this was the prelude to the present situation because the establishment realizing that their plans to exploit Balochistan would be foiled now decided to deal with Baloch with brute force and the cornerstone of that policy was systematic extra-judicial abductions and killings of activists. Dr. Allah Nizar was abducted on March 25th, 2005 and when they finally produced him on 12th August 2006 after series of protests he was in near death condition; on recovery he went underground and now leads his Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) in Makran. Interestingly now the centre of resistance is not solely Marri, Mengal area or Bolan it has shifted to Makran. Nawab Akbar Bugti despite old age and medical conditions continued to resist and on 26th August 2006 he was martyred in Marri area. This prompted a huge reaction from Baloch people and the Bugtis under leadership of his grandson formed the Baloch Republican Army and consequently the Bugti area too became problematic for Pakistan with increasing attacks on gas pipelines and installations. After killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti an unusual reaction was seen; settlers who had never been attacked before became targets. I have written against these attacks because in long run are self defeating and Baloch lose the moral ground. The ‘dirty war’ in Balochistan intensified with arrival of PPP’s government in 2008. This ‘dirty war’ with no holds barred is similar to those conducted in Argentina and Chile. In October 2013 during the SC bench hearing the attorney general disclosed that Rs 400 million from Intelligence Bureau’s (IB’s) secret fund had been used for counter-insurgency in Balochistan during 2008-09. If IB alone spent 400 million imagine what others must have spent. Apparently this was used to create death squads as abductions and killings began in earnest in 2008. The attack against Baloch nationalists was three pronged; the army and Frontier Corps conducted operations, death squads like those of Shafique Mengal were given a free hand and more importantly religion was made the weapon of choice by proliferating Madressahs and facilitating organization like JuD to change the secular social ethos. Usman Kurd and Daud Buledi of LeJ sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in November 2003, escaped from the jail located in the high-security zone of Quetta cantonment on January 18, 2008. The Hazaras people have suffered at hands of the sectarian organizations which target Baloch nationalists as well; though to malign Baloch struggle some media people allege that these militants support Baloch. This systematic ‘dirty war’ has taken a heavy toll of Baloch lives; Mama Abdul Qadeer the Vice Chairman of Voice of Baloch Missing persons who with some lady relatives of missing persons and three young boys marched some 3000 kms in 106 days from Quetta to Islamabad, says that more than 20000 persons have gone missing; five persons I personally know are missing. Since the kill and dump policy began more than 2000 Baloch activists have been abducted, tortured, killed and dumped mostly in Balochistan but at times in Karachi. Some 25 persons who I personally knew have become victims of this policy. I too marched with Mama and brave Baloch ladies for 27 days. This repression has prompted Baloch women to become politically more active and equal to men in the national struggle. Without women’s participation only half the Baloch were fighting now all are. Sadly there was hardly any coverage by the media; the reason media avoids Baloch protests like plague is that Baloch demand an independent sovereign Balochistan and this is anathema for most Pakistanis. Media diligently serves purpose of the establishment and is pretty effective in the negative sense. Malcolm X very rightly said that, “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” This exactly is the case regarding Baloch. Mass graves were discovered in Tutak mass graves and were the handiwork of the death squads let loose on Baloch but the commission set up to investigate couldn’t even find a person to blame. But that wasn’t surprising; for all the rhetoric that flowed freely in the SC not a single person was charged or punished for the crime of enforced disappearances. All state institutions here are equally complicit in crimes against humanity that are committed in name of security in Balochistan. The FC, the Coast Guards and Customs people harass and humiliate people without reason. I suppose all will remember the Kharotabad incident where innocent tourists men and women, one of them pregnant, were killed and dubbed as terrorists. There are no safeguards for the people as a culture of impunity prevails. The Baloch see themselves as cornered with no other option except to continue resisting and struggle for independence so they can live a life of dignity. The plans for formation of military courts don’t inspire confidence among Baloch. Once bitten twice shy. The establishment went unpunished for what they did in Bangla Desh and are getting away with what they have done and are doing in Balochistan now. It is not only the culture of impunity that goads them on to atrocities it is something inborn in tyrants psyche too which makes them incorrigible. The establishments policy in Balochistan is not random, it has a reason and the policy aims pursued in Balochistan are well elucidated by none other than Aristotle, he says, “The three aims of the tyrant are: one, the humiliation of his subjects; he knows that a mean-spirited man will not conspire against anybody; two, the creation of mistrust among them; for a tyrant is not to be overthrown until men begin to have confidence in one another -- and this is the reason why tyrants are at war with the good; they are under the idea that their power is endangered by them, not only because they will not be ruled despotically, but also because they are too loyal to one another and to other men, and do not inform against one another or against other men ; and three, the tyrant desires that all his subjects shall be incapable of action, for no one attempts what is impossible and they will not attempt to overthrow a tyranny if they are powerless.” The establishment sticks to these guidelines. Despite the relentless ‘dirty war’ the Baloch people have continued to resist as they see no hope either in Quetta or Islamabad. The majority of Baloch had no expectations from parliamentary politics and had therefore effectively boycotted elections as proved by the fact that Dr. Malik, the Chief Minister of Balochistan, as a winner for PB 48 Kech secured only 4539 votes while the total number of voters there is 74,374 and in spite of all the bogus voting only 14 per cent people cast vote. For PB 41 Awaran Abdul Qudoos Bezinjo secured only 544 votes, he is the Deputy Speaker, from the total votes 57666; a mere 1.18 per cent people voted. The Election Commission and NADRA had said in September 2013 that 65 percent of the votes cast in Balochistan were bogus. Though Dr. Malik has been projected as middle class nationalist leader he is neither; it needs a lot more than rhetoric alone to be either. Hafiz Shirazi says, ‘Hazaar Nukta Bareek Tar Za Moo Eenja Ast Na Har Kay Sar Ba Tarashad Qalandari Danad. Translation Crossing of a million hurdles makes a saint Just shaving the head makes you no saint. Baloch people eye China’s intentions in Balochistan with suspicion and resent its help to Pakistan in exploiting the resources. They have a bitter experience of what China is doing in Saindak according to Syed Fazl-e-Haider a respected analyst, by the time China leaves in 2017 there be nothing left. In Saindak China is the extractor, seller and buyer; Balochistan gets mere 2% while most goes to China a little to Islamabad. Baloch resent the government’s attempts to sell off Reko Diq ; they resent all this as strongly as they resent use of Balochistan as nuclear testing ground. The Raskoh Mountain where device exploded, was killed; it turned to ash and people in environs are suffering from strange diseases. The Baloch resentment is not only against economic plunder they resent the various political and military means used to disempower them politically and economically; they resent the crude attempts by Pakistan to change the historical secular social ethos with help of Madressahs and fundamentalist organizations under guise of charity outfits as have been used in Awaran after the September 2013 devastating earthquake. The future of Balochistan is viewed very differently by Pakistan and Pakistanis on one hand and by the Baloch on the other. Pakistan sees it as the land where its burgeoning population can be accommodated; it is seen in terms of ports and harbours it has, they see it as the testing ground for A-bombs and assorted missile tests, they also see it as the energy corridor for their friend China because that corridor will surely spike the real estate prices which the elite will benefit from as they attempted to do in Gwadar. Balochistan is seen as a vast stretch of land with plenty of resources as ‘terra nullius’ a land belonging to no one waiting to be exploited for benefits of others instead of Baloch. The Baloch see Balochistan as their motherland which they gave an identity to and which in turn did the same. They see it as the repository of their culture, history and way of life; they know that without land they lose all meaning and above all they resent the illegal annexation on 27th March 1948. The Baloch have crossed the Rubicon and will travel on the path they have treaded so long and given so many sacrifices for. The Baloch seek an independent, sovereign Balochistan.
The time when pro-establishment politicians and sardars defined and determined what and how people think and act is long past, now it is the Baloch resistance that defines the social and political relations in Balochistan and people proudly identify themselves with Sarmachars (Freedom Fighters) who struggle for their rights.
The Sarmachars fully understand the overwhelming odds they are up against but have continued to struggle for nearly seven decades. Their love for their motherland goads them on and they would love it even if it had no treasures to give and haven’t given up on it yet. I feel these words of I F Stone ring true for them and express their attitude. He says “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing - for the sheer fun and joy of it- to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it”.--I. F. Stone
The conduct and attitude of the Sarmachars struggling for Balochistan’s independence have conveyed a message to friend and foe alike. For the former to emulate and the latter to beware; their message is well expressed in this poem by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903):
Out Of The Night That Covers Me (Invictus) Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.