COMMENT : Incorrigible — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur


Without rights for the people, there can never be any peace. However brutal states may be, the resilience of the people always surpasses that

Mir Mohammad Ali TalpurIn the 1951 movie Hulchal starring Dilip Kumar and Nargis, Yakub played a supporting role as a prisoner. In one scene, he is surrounded by cronies; one of them with a wont to come up with absurdities says something foolish and Yakub shaking his head says, “Array O Kaanay, na tu sudhra hai aur na tu sudhray ga.” It means, ‘O One-eyed one, incorrigible you were and incorrigible you will forever remain.” He might well have said that for the Pakistani ruling elite and establishment that act exactly like the Kaanay of Hulchal. They are incorrigible because they refuse to learn from history or their blunders. They have and will always ‘remain blind to their blindness’.

Zulfiqar Magsi and his high-powered apex committee on Balochistan, a tormented Balochistan at that, have come up with the ridiculous offer to those struggling for their rights to give up armed struggle in return for jobs, monetary incentives, resettlement and a special welfare fund for their comprehensive rehabilitation. The committee’s composition abundantly exposes who runs affairs in Balochistan. It was attended by Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant-General Muhammad Allam Khattak, Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, IGFC Major-General Obaidullah Khan, IG Police Tariq Umar Khitab, Home Secretary Captain (Retd) Akbar Hussain Durrani and other military officials.

The committee has seemingly misunderstood why the Baloch have chosen armed struggle instead of standing in queues with caps in hands waiting for the charity of their tormentors. Had they chosen to live the more or less miserable life that a majority of the Baloch people has lived for the last 65 years, they would not have gone to the proverbial mountains. These brave Baloch demand something more than what the very best of the proposals from the government have to offer; they demand the undoing of the injustice of the forcible annexation perpetrated on March 27, 1948.

The record need to be put straight about the date of the independence of Kalat. In a preface to Douglas Fell, the foreign minister of Kalat’s memoir, Dr Hameed Baloch writes. “On August 4th 1947, the British Government, and representatives of Dominion of Pakistan decided officially to recognise the state of Kalat as an independent sovereign State in treaty relations with the British Government. Moreover, it was also mentioned that Kalat State had a status different from that of the Indian State. The official declaration of independence of Kalat State was announced on August 11th, 1947 and broadcast by All India Radio. On August 15th 1947, Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the last independent ruler of Kalat State, officially proclaimed the independence.” A press communiqué issued from Viceroy House New Delhi states the same.

The Baloch have never fought for better job opportunities, welfare benefits, concessions for state dole and charity; had they fought for these, what would have been the point of sacrificing thousands of lives and willingly accepting in retribution deprivation, displacement and death? They cannot be expected after 65 years of sacrifices to now accept jobs as an alternative to their goal. The Pakistani state’s systematic discrimination against the Baloch has only strengthened their resolve to secure their rights. The Pakistani state eyeing Balochistan’s wealth and resources, like all oppressors, has fruitlessly tried to feed the Baloch on a diet of promises and platitudes.

Were it not so, the economic and political picture there would not be so dismal. A UNDP report revealed: “While Pakistan as a whole is lagging behind on most of the MDGs, the situation in Balochistan is worst-off. The headcount poverty in 2001-02, was 48 percent, which was 15 percent higher than the national average. In 2005-06, this ratio increased to 50.9 percent against the national average of 22.3 percent. (It must have risen exponentially because of the ongoing military operation.) The proportion of underweight children under five years was 43 percent in 2005-06, which was five percent above the national level. Similarly, the target of universal primary education is 13 percent behind the national average. The literacy rate (45 percent) is 12 percentages below the national literacy rate.

In 2008/09, the GPI for primary education was 0.58, which is 0.26 points below the Pakistan level of 0.84. The latest estimate provided by the PDHS 2006/07 reveals an alarmingly high maternal mortality rate at 785 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births while Pakistan’s is 276. The antenatal care and proportion of births attended by skilled birth attendants in 2008/09 was 15 and 53, and 17 and 41 respectively. Likewise, progress on reducing child mortality is 36 percent below average. From the available data it appears that both Balochistan’s infant mortality and under-five mortality rates have steadily increased from the early 1990s to 2004, the last year for which data is available when the rate was estimated at a very high 158 deaths per 1,000 live births compared with the Pakistan average of 94 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006/07.”

This shows how the Baloch have been systematically put at a disadvantage so that they are sidelined and unable to compete as a nation with the other nations. There has been an organised attempt to marginalise them economically, politically and socially so that they could easily be browbeaten into submission. The Pakistani rulers and establishment do not tire of blaming the Sardars for the lack of progress and people readily believe it because of the horrifying image that has been created. The fact that most Sardars have been camp followers of the army and bureaucracy and nothing has been done even in their areas is completely ignored. Even the ‘selected’ Balochistan Assembly is an illustration of total apathy as there is not a single standing committee to manage affairs. No one bothers as long as money flows in and they do the bidding of the centre.

Without rights for the people, there can never be any peace. However brutal states may be, the resilience of the people always surpasses that. The Baloch, against overwhelming odds, have persisted in their struggle, which personifies their resilience and tenacity of character; a people of weaker resolve would have bid it adieu long ago. This tenacity will go to waste if the reality of the extremely adverse situation is ignored and the urgency of the unity of strategic goals is not understood and left unattended.

Tailpiece: Hatf V Ghauri missile’s debris nearly caused casualties in Dadu; imagine the consequences for target areas in Balochistan, which is the guinea pig for nuclear tests and missiles.

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 mmatalpur@gmail.com

Courtesy: Daily Times 

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