Bloody Fridays and Sundays — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Demographic changes sustained ‘with a dagger at their throat’ since 1542 brought about the partition of Ireland. The Pakistani state envisages the same solution for Balochistan by holding the Baloch nation hostage with ‘a dagger at their throat’. However, the Baloch have not acquiesced and continue to resist at a great price of Baloch blood 

“Should a robber break into my house, and, with a dagger at my throat, make me seal deeds to convey my estate to him, would this give him any title? Just such a title by his sword has an unjust conqueror who forces me into submission. The injury and the crime is equal, whether committed by the wearer of a crown or some petty villain” — John Locke.

The Baloch fears of the lethal impact of demographic changes being overtly and covertly engineered by the state are certainly not unfounded. There has been a consistent effort on part of Pakistan to undo the Baloch majority to undermine the support for those resisting Pakistan’s attempts to exploit Balochistan’s natural resources and its large land mass. The so-called development programmes like the Gwadar port or infrastructures like the Mirani Dam, highways, etc, are just a fig leaf for engineering demographic changes that are now supplemented by slow track genocide; the cantonments and naval bases being the ‘sword to force them into submission’.

The colonisation of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand are too obvious. I take the example of Ireland and Northern Ireland to illustrate the effects that engineered demographic changes wreak on the indigenous people and how resistance leads to different outcomes. It is also an apt analogy for the Baloch resistance to Pakistani hegemony.

Northern Ireland today is one of the four countries of the UK, though it was Ireland before. The 2001 UK census showed its population was 1,685,000 and constituted about three percent of Britain but 30 percent of Ireland’s total population. The colonists had chosen the best area for themselves, hence the population concentration.

Northern Ireland today consists of six of the nine counties of the Irish province of Ulster. It was created as a distinct division of the UK on May 3, 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Because of its unique history, the issue of symbolism, name, description, citizenship and identity of Northern Ireland is complex. In general, the Unionists, the planted Protestant population, consider themselves British and the nationalists, mostly Roman Catholics Irish, see themselves as Irish, though these identities are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Ireland has a long history of resistance to British colonialism. The region that is now Northern Ireland was the bedrock of the Irish war of resistance in the late 16th century. In 1542, though King Henry VIII declared it as Kingdom of Ireland, the Irish resistance made English control fragmentary. However, following Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1607 the region was colonised by Protestant English (mainly Anglican) and Scottish (mainly Presbyterian) settlers. Between 1610 and 1717 as many as 100,000 Lowlanders came across from Scotland, and by 1717 there were some five Scots to every three Irishmen and one Englishman in Ulster. This engineered demographic imbalance gave birth to Northern Ireland.

The Irish continued to battle for freedom but following their defeat in 1691 the Anglican ruling class in Ireland passed a series of penal laws making it materially disadvantageous for the Catholic (read Irish) community. This institutional discrimination saw secret, militant societies develop in communities and act on sectarian tensions in violent attacks; with nationalism and religion overlapping each other.

The 1798 Belfast-based Society of the United Irishmen cross-community rebellion, inspired by the French Revolution, sought to break constitutional ties between Ireland and Britain and unite Irishmen. To stop the spread of French-style republicanism, Great Britain merged Ireland in 1801 forming the UK of Great Britain and Ireland, which was governed from London.

Due to relentless Irish struggle against injustices, the demand for Ireland’s autonomy became a reality with Parliament Act 1911 in 1912 when the House of Commons, realising that the Irish could no longer be kept as subjects, vetoed the objections of the House of Lords who staunchly supported the Unionists. In 1914, the Home Rule opponents, unionist politicians and militants smuggled thousands of rifles and ammunition from Imperial Germany for the Ulster Volunteers a paramilitary organisation to oppose Home Rule violently. Here the state sponsors the Baloch Mussala Diffa Tanzeem and Tehreek Nifaz Aman Balochistan to eliminate its opponents in Balochistan.

The Unionists, though a minority in Ireland, had a majority in six counties of Northern Province of Ulster, which led to the partition of Ireland and these six counties became Northern Ireland while overwhelmingly majority-nationalist 26 counties became the Republic of Ireland. Britain got the ‘title’ with the ‘sword of unjust conqueror’.

Ireland was eventually partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland in 1921 under the terms of Lloyd Georg’’s Government of Ireland Act 1920 agreed to during the war of independence between Ireland and Britain. At the conclusion of that war on December 6, 1922, Northern Ireland provisionally became an autonomous part of the newly independent Irish Free State.

However, as expected, the Northern Ireland parliament resolved to opt out of the Irish Free State. Shortly afterwards, a commission was established to demarcate territorial boundaries between the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland. Irish leaders in Dublin expected a substantial reduction in the territory of Northern Ireland but were blackmailed by promised waiver of Free State’s financial obligations to UK’s public debt.

Demographic changes sustained ‘with a dagger at their throat’ since 1542 brought about the partition of Ireland. The Pakistani state envisages the same solution for Balochistan by holding the Baloch nation hostage with ‘a dagger at their throat’. However, the Baloch have not acquiesced and continue to resist at a great price of Baloch blood.

The Baloch resistance here continues unabated as had the resistance of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for the entire Ireland till 1921 and Provisional IRA until the implementation of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland the Unionists were supported by Royal Ulster Constabulary and here they are supported by the Frontier Corps. Here too there are quite a few Ian Paisleys who are more loyal to the king than the king himself.

The January 30, 1972, ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry in which 13 protestors, including seven teenagers, were killed had given impetus to the struggle in Northern Ireland. In Balochistan although every day is a ‘Bloody Sunday’, now it was the ‘Bloody Friday’ of July 15, 1960 (20th Muharram, 1380 AH) when seven Baloch freedom fighters of Nawab Nauroz Khan were hanged at Sukkur and Hyderabad jails that doomed this enforced federation.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at

Via Daily Times


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