The Baloch have their own culture, language and their own concept of patriotism and nationalism and refuse to subscribe to the Pakistani concept of patriotism and nationalism
The Latin quote Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium means, “I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery.” It embodies the Baloch sentiments and what they are working towards today; only a heartless person will fault them for this course because since 1948 they have been at the receiving end of state brutality. The problem between the Baloch and Pakistan has its genesis in the fact that since the forcible annexation in March 1948 after the initial 227 days’ independence of Kalat, the Baloch have been coerced by the state to subscribe to the Pakistani concepts of patriotism, nationalism and national interests. The Baloch reluctance to comply and conform to what is known as the Pakistan ideology has resulted in numerous military operations but fortunately, from each they have emerged more united and more determined.
The Baloch have their own culture, language and their own concept of patriotism and nationalism and refuse to subscribe to the Pakistani concept. The Pakistani state abhors diversity or nonconformity to their established concepts and with the intention of making the Baloch accept their version of patriotism, it has waged a war against the Baloch since 1948. The present operation, though more vicious and sustained than the previous ones, is being clandestinely conducted by the Frontier Corps (FC) and intelligence agencies; the 1973-77 one was equally brutal but was openly conducted by the military. The present spate of brutal abductions and killings is also more systematic and widespread.
The head of the Missing Persons Commission, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal’s shocking and insensitive statement that foreign agencies are behind the issue of missing persons has unfortunately been drowned in the din of the media circus regarding the scandal involving Dr Arsalan Iftikhar and Malik Riaz. Justice in Pakistan is not completely blind where the Baloch are concerned; it is selectively blind; its double-edged sword does not symbolise reason and justice. It symbolises prejudice and coercion against the Baloch and those having differing views on patriotism. In Pakistan, all dissent is considered treasonous and the crackdown is proportional to the degree of threat to the state ideology and beliefs. The Baloch now, and the Bengalis before them, have borne the brunt of the wrath of the establishment and elite because their dissent poses a threat to the ideology, read interests, of the Pakistani state.
The selective blindness is apparent from the fact that Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal can see the prisoners in faraway Paktia and Pul-e-Charkhi jails in Afghanistan but fails to see the recently abducted and killed Mohammad Khan Marri, Mohammad Nabi Marri — sons of Baazi Pirdadani, both former students of mine in Afghanistan — and Mehran Baloch, whose abduction was captured on CCTV. This is but one of the examples of extreme selective blindness and insensitivity. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VFBMP) striving for the safe recovery of missing persons in Balochistan has justifiably boycotted the commission.
Not only that, chiming the mantra of the intelligence agencies, Justice Iqbal claimed that foreign intelligence agencies were involved in the issue of missing persons. He also demanded more resources and facilities for the security forces. Instead of advocating the rights of the victims, he demands more weapons of repression for the perpetrators. I think Nietzsche was right when he said, “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Justice Iqbal revealed that 12 of the 57 (according to him) missing persons from Balochistan were recovered over the past week by the commission and added, “Three of the missing persons who returned home requested not to disclose their names.” Ironically, he complained, “They are completely tight-lipped and not giving any information, and without evidence the courts cannot punish anyone.” The returnees know they can and will be abducted if they disclose anything and this toothless commission will watch helplessly. Their silence exposes the sheer worthlessness of this commission. He disclosed that the bodies of seven missing persons had been found in different areas of Balochistan and a case had been registered under Section 302 of the PPC. That is their best shot. Not a single person has been prosecuted or even charged with the murders of nearly 500 Baloch in the last 18 months.
Global Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace assesses countries on the criterion of various indicators including organised internal conflict, deaths from internal conflicts, political terror, perceived criminality in society, violent demonstrations, etc, and Pakistan is unsurprisingly ranked at 149th out of 158. It stood at 125 out of 138 in 2008 and last year, it was 145th out of 153. It tops in political terror, beating even Afghanistan, and the deaths from internal conflicts are double the external ones. With the increased tempo of political terror in Balochistan and the tremendous rise in internal conflicts, it will indeed snatch the bottom place from Somalia next year.
Diversity and dissent are anathema for the Pakistani state; it demands and imposes uniformity and conformity even if it comes at the cost of waging a dirty war in Balochistan since 1948. The duration and intensity of repression in Balochistan have helped steel among the Baloch the age-old desire and love for independence and a life of dignity. They now see salvation in going their separate way, and have adopted malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium as their slogan and their goal.
Having had the honour and privilege of being one of those ‘in the mountains’ in the past, I know those in the mountains today believe in themselves and the eventual fulfilment of their dreamed of destiny. I F Stone (1907-1989) expresses their sentiments superbly: “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.”
Pakistan’s attempt to curtail Baloch rights and take over their resources has left them no other choice except to continue to struggle until someday, somebody who believes like them wins. The Baloch belief in their destiny has not wavered and will not waver and their struggle for a life with dignity will continue.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy : Daily Times