COMMENT : Obscured truths and established lies — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur


That the Baloch do not respond dramatically publically to the atrocities against them has relegated their plight to obscurity

Mir Mohammad Ali TalpurMr Mohammad Hanif, author of the multiple prize-winning book, A Case of Exploding Mangoes had kindly asked me to moderate the launch of The Baloch Who is Not Missing and Other Who Are at the Karachi Literary Festival last month. In the book, Saman Baloch, daughter of missing Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch, asks Hanif a very poignant question, “If they want to hang my father, they should bring him to the court, put him on trial and hang him in front of us. We will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that he is no more. But if they keep him alive for three years, four years and if they torture him every day and then kill him and dump his body what is the point of that? To begin the session I had put this question to the panelists and Hanif rightly said, “They do it because they can get away with it.” My view was that a culture of impunity prevails and this is done to intimidate those who defy the might of the establishment and fight for their rights.

Numerous (11 turning up in the first 12 days of March) bodies of abducted Baloch were found in Karachi. The organisers of the camp of the Baloch Voice for Missing Baloch Persons (VMBP) protesting since last month at the Karachi Press Club removed their pictures from missing persons section. Surprisingly, no one has condemned these gruesome killings; organs were removed from bodies of Master Abdul Rehman, 35, a schoolteacher and Zahid Hussain, 22, a student, both of Panjgur picked up on February 12 and 24 respectively. Neither the political parties, nor the Sindhi nationalists or civil society said a word in protest at these killings. Bodies of Sikandar Qambarani and Baz Khan Marri were found on March 12 at Aab-e-Gum, Bolan. Relatives of 11 young Baloch boys falsely accused of placing bombs have protested in Quetta. Police claim they were nabbed in an encounter. The claim is incredulously ludicrous. On this outrageous silence of people Henri Frederic Amiel (1821 –1881), Swiss philosopher and poet, says, “Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.”

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.”

These killings and the VMBP’s ongoing protest in Karachi do not seem to bother anyone; in fact, all atrocities committed against the Baloch go largely unnoticed and unmentioned. Apart from the general apathy that prevails here there are other reasons too. The dominant state narrative, it having so many resources to implant beliefs, has successfully projected the Baloch as worthy of repression and elimination. People tend to believe that narrative as the narrative of those fighting oppression is swamped by the constant drumming in of the oppressor’s narrative.

An example of state narrative effectiveness is seen in the inordinate rise of fundamentalists’ narrative with blanket state support while the secular forces’ narrative languished; this ensured that fundamentalism would go from strength to strength while even the neutral space would keep getting smaller. Today people accused of blasphemy are set upon by mobs and only lukewarm support for the victims follows. The state narrative has ensured that there would be more support for Mumtaz Qadris than for Salmaan Taseers. Blaise Pascal (1623 — 1662), French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher, rightly observed, Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognise it.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays and lies so well established that unless we love the truth we shall never recognise it.”

The state narrative has so affected the peoples’ minds that even on the International Women’s Day on March 8, there was not even a mention of the mothers and sisters of the missing persons. These suffering women are not on radar of either the women groups or civil society and conveniently remain unremembered on all days and events pertaining to the rights of women. It is fashionable to write about women’s rights and plight but these women relatives of missing persons are ignored though it is women who suffer most in all these adverse circumstances.

The Holy Quran equates killing of a person with killing of humanity while society here is only momentarily moved when a lot of people are killed as has happened in sectarian and Hazara killings. Those who have been killing the Baloch and dumping their bodies in Balochistan and now in Karachi fully understand this society’s psyche and have correctly assumed that slow track genocide will not evoke a dramatic response. That the Baloch do not respond dramatically publically to the atrocities against them has relegated their plight to obscurity.

Goebelesian tactics of bombarding people with untruths to ensure their acceptance has been largely successful here because peoples’ minds have been adequately prepared for the state narrative by the biased education system and relentless propaganda. Establishments with such overwhelming control supposedly do not need armies to control people but the opposite is true as their coercion apparatus is more willfully used against people. To successfully establish a just and equitable society these multi-pronged attacks on minds of people will have to be countered by society at large if it does not want to forsake the little freedom it still has.

In this war of attrition the establishment’s resources outweigh Baloch resources and to counter this Baloch will have to reassess their tactics and adapt them to meet demands of rapidly changing conditions. Today’s situation most crucial need is unity among the Baloch, which would act as deterrence to state terrorism and narrative. Henri Frederic Amiel has a word of advice and the Baloch would do well to heed it. He says, “

He who is silent is forgotten;

he who abstains is taken at his word;

he who does not advance, falls back;

he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed;

he who ceases to grow greater becomes smaller;

he who leaves off, gives up;

the stationary condition is the beginning of the end — it is the terrible symptom, which precedes death. To live, is to achieve a perpetual triumph: it is to assert one’s self against destruction, against sickness, against the annulling and dispersion of one’s physical and moral being. It is to will without ceasing, or rather to refresh one’s will day by day.” Constant struggle is his message and only the struggle with self as well as with external forces can ensure success for Baloch in their direst hour.

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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