by Ahmar Mustikhan
The tragic killing of Baloch politician and former senator, Habib Jalib, was an eye opener for all those who think their skins will be saved — and their political interests served — if they please Islamabad by rejecting the idea of independence of Balochistan.
One of the most sensible and balanced statements was from Mehran Baluch, youngest son of Baba-i-Azadi Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, who has represented Balochistan at the U.N. Human Rights Council for almost a decade now. While condemning the killing, Mehran Baluch had appealed to the Baloch to unite on a single point agenda of independence of their homeland.
The News International quoted Mehran Baluch as saying, “Balochistan is burning. The dark forces are openly eliminating the first and second tier leadership without any fear. It is the duty of every Baloch to resist this onslaught through every means possible. Those who fail to come to the side of their people today will be condemned in the history books.”
Unfortunately in stead of a show of unity over the killing by the Inter-Services Intelligence, a slew of statements and counter statements from diverse groups, added to to the general despair and despondency.
Former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal came out with a very strong counter statement against the forces of Baloch liberation and the media widely reported that “The central president of Balochistan National Party Sardar Akhtar Mengal has taken serious exception of the poisonous statements of …. teenagers on the martyrdom of Habib Jalib, the party’s secretary general.”
To an email query, Sardar Akhtar Mengal said he had used the Urdu term chokhra not the English word teenager. The two more or less mean the same. Let us pause for a moment and see what the word teenager means.
The words teenager and youth are used interchangeably. Roget’s International Thesaurus describes teenager to be synonymous with youngster, youth, sapling, fledgling, hopeful, while the words that are synonymous with youth are prime of life, flower of life, springtime or springtide of life, flowering time, seedtime of life.
Thus the word teenagers and youth have very positive connotations both in literature and poetry. Teenagers are the future of a nation. Teenagers are catalysts of change and have played a major role in every revolution, including the American revolution. According to the Executive Intelligence Review:
There is one leading example of an indispensable youth movement which did play a positive role: That youth movement was that of the American Revolution itself.
The evidence is surprising, but undeniable. You must start from understanding that Benjamin Franklin, born in 1706, was the chief organizer of the American Revolutionary movement. He epitomized the quality of scientific and political thinking, as well as organizing skills, which had come out of the Italian Renaissance conception of man and society, and which understood the fact that human progress demand the creation of a community of republics, based on the conception of man as a creative, thinking individual. From his teens on, Franklin effectively became an agent for those international networks who understood that it was in the American colonies that a breakthrough could be made, in achieving a society based on those ideas.
Franklin worked for decades—but he did not quickly succeed in unifying the American colonies around that idea. That unification didn’t come until the 1770s to 1790s, and it came from the generation of his grandchildren, a youth movement par excellence.
There were intermediaries, of course: crucial collaborators of Franklin and organizers of the nation, such as George Washington (born 1732), John Adams (born 1735), and Tom Paine (born 1737), among others. But the “movers and shakers” within the American Revolutionary movement of 1776, and its progression into the establishment of the U.S. Constitution, came overwhelmingly from that generation which was born in the 1750s and ’60s, a full two generations after Franklin. And it was an international grouping at that.
Start with the following list (which is by no means exhaustive):
Alexander Hamilton, born 1755
Marquis de Lafayette, born 1757
Mathew Carey, born 1760
John Quincy Adams, born 1767
James Monroe, born 1758
John Marshall, born 1755
James Madison, born 1751.
Thus, at the time the American Revolution was declared, in 1776, this generation of leaders was anywhere from 9 to 25 years old!
Even if Sardar Akhtar Mengal has his eyes set on returning to the Chief Minister’s House in Quetta, we wish him the best but must point out that neither he nor his dad Sardar Ataullah Mengal are respected by the Baloch because they were chief ministers. Their respect stems from their political struggle and the supreme sacrifice of their family — the killing of Mir Asadullah Mengal.
What has intrigued political observers is that when Sardar Ataullah Mengal returned to Pakistan after ending his decade-old self-exile on the death of Baloch politican Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo, the then chief minister Nawab Akbar Bugti, who is now reincarnation of Mir Chakar Rind after being killed by the Pakistan army on August 26, 2006, went to the airport to receive him. The senior Mengal said at the time he did not believe Bugti was the chief minister — meaning Baloch elected officials are powerless–, but readily accepted the same post for his son seven years later.
The day after Bizenjo’s burial, when journalists met him, Sardar Mengal quipped, “Yesterday I buried Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo and his politics in Na’al.” But, the Balochistan National Party of which he is patron-in-chief is still busy doing the same Bizenjo politics that he buried in Naal on August 12, 1989.
Not listening to youth can be tantamount to commiting political suicide. One example is the protest by Baloch youth each year against the horrific nuclear tests in Balochistan.
Regrettably, one of the most controversial pictures of Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s political career is the one from the Raskoh nuclear test site in Chagai. Amidst slogans of Allahu Akbar, Mengal is seen rubbing shoulders with Pakistan military generals and then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Raskoh in District Chagai on May 27, 1998 as the hills about which Baloch feel great pride were turned into rubble by the Punjabi generals.. One doubts if Mengal went to Raskoh of his own free will? Or was this because of a phone call from the Corps Commander’s office in Quetta? If he was so powerless on that fateful day when Balochistan was being massively raped what are the guarantees he will not be as powerless as he was in the future?
These questions beg honest answers.
A recent editorial by Quetta journalist Malik Siraj Akbar has greatly embarassed Sardar Akhtar Mengal and the Balochistan National Party that he heads. Akbar made a startling revelation: “Now that Akhtar Mengal has clearly stated his party’s policy, he needs to make it clear that why his party still refuses to play the role of an active opposition in Balochistan. With Usman Advocate in the National Assembly and Abdul Rehman Mengal, (both cardholder members of the BNP), in the Balochistan cabinet, it still needs to be clarified why the B.N.P. does not openly own these members of the parliament as its own members. In such a situation, BNP needs to play its role as an active opposition party by demanding mid-term elections in Balochistan because the province is in the grip of worst law and order problems.”
Usman Advocate chairs the National Assembly Standing Committee on Tourism, while Abdul Rehman Mengal is the minister for mines and minerals in Balochistan. So was the boycott of the B.N.P. merely an eyewash? Can Sardar Akhtar Mengal please clarify his position why his party members are in government? For lack of better words, this is sheer political dishonesty.
In stead of showing fury one must show honesty. The basic question today is can the Baloch national aspirations be addressed within the context of a federal Pakistan? Can the Baloch national identity be saved within Pakistan? Do the Baloch have a good future within Pakistan? Will the Baloch ever be treated as equals with Punjabis [and Mohajirs] within Pakistan? Will the Baloch ports and resources remain in Baloch hands within Pakistan? The answers to all these questions are a big NO.
Not surprisingly, the praise for Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s statement came from a journalist who is widely suspected of having strong links within the Pakistani spy networks, Rahimullah Yusufzai. Yusufzai, who is resident editor of the News International in Peshawar, wrote: “Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, a former chief minister of the province and head of the Balochistan National Party (BNP) to which Habib Jalib belonged … must be credited for taking a stand against Baloch youngsters and organisations pushing his party to demand independence after Habib Jalib’s martyrdom.”
In closing, let me quote Nobel prize laureate Pearl S. Buck, who said: The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation…
Honorable Sardar Akhtar Mengal, we continue to respect you immensely but please be honest and let the Baloch teenager dream a better future for themselves and the coming generations.