COMMENT : Ignorant people in the media — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

All political, economic, social or administrative measures that the incoming government implements or enacts will be as null and void as were those of the Raisani government 

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurGhaus Bakhsh Barozai, the Balochistan caretaker chief minister (CM), speaking recently at the Punjab University (PU) said that the “Punjab was like Balochistan’s big brother and had made positive gestures towards the province”, and that “Ignorant people in the media” were not presenting an accurate picture of the problems in Balochistan. The PU Vice Chancellor (VC) Professor Mujahid Kamran in reply congratulated the cabinet-less Barozai for holding peaceful elections. He said that the Baloch people were brave, loyal and hard working and that 97 Baloch students had been admitted to the Punjab University with free tuition, boarding and Rs 3,000 monthly scholarships.

Before talking about the patronising attitude that the PU’s VC displays towards the Baloch, let us see his views on world events. Addressing a PU seminar on “9/11 and World War III” in September 2012 he claimed that the 9/11 incident was a conspiracy by the richest families of the United States to occupy the world through grand deception and that some international researchers say an American cabal instigated it and pushed the American people into war. He asserted that a group in the White House and US intelligence agencies did this job for the cabal that wanted to establish a One-World Government or New World Order. To top it all off he claimed that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies exhumed the body of Osama bin Laden in 2006 and handed it over to the United States and that the Abbottabad incident was staged to pressurise and defame Pakistan.

Now let’s take a look at the ‘big brother’ magnanimity that is lauded so very often. How much would the total cost of providing free education, lodging and the measly Rs 3,000 monthly stipend to 97 Baloch students amount to? These extollers conveniently forget that Punjab has thrived on Balochistan’s resources; just calculate how much wealth has been created there by the use of Sui gas since 1952.

Syed Fazl-e-Haider, a respected analyst, in his piece, “Balochistan for increased share in gas revenue” in a national English daily on September 29, 2009 wrote, “The province has been demanding an increase in the well-head price of its gas to bring it at par with the rates in Sindh and the Punjab. Some five years ago, Balochistan was getting merely Rs 22 per MMBTU while Sindh was getting Rs126 per MMBTU and Punjab Rs180 per MMBTU for some of its wells. If the prices were made uniform with that of Sindh gas, Balochistan would get additional revenue for meeting its development needs. While the federal government is arbitrarily subsidising the sale of natural gas from Balochistan to consumers in other provinces without its consent, the province is left with no funds to finance its annual development programme. According to one estimate, the subsidy for Sindh is around Rs 1.72 billion and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rs 12.92 billion. The subsidy being given to the fertiliser sector in terms of fuel, amounts to Rs 1.054 billion, cement sector Rs 34.64 million, fertiliser (feedstock) Rs 31.03 million, CNG Rs 24.12 million, general industrial sector Rs 424.15 million and commercial sector Rs 54.67 million. All the subsidies are being provided at Balochistan’s expense.”

After much delay the prices were raised but still the average well-head prices are: Balochistan Rs 66.34, Punjab Rs 162.93 and Sindh Rs 142.57; interestingly, the 12.5 percent royalty fixed for gas drawn from the field area is based on ‘well-head value’ so Punjab gets more from less while Balochistan less from more. The injustice becomes even more apparent when the percentage of production and own usage is seen, which is Balochistan 40 and two percent, Sindh 54 and 36 percent and Punjab six and 44 percent respectively.

Two brothers inherited a cow; the elder one dictating the sharing formula took the back half and allotted the front half to the younger one. He had the udders half, and therefore the milk fell to his lot. Deprived of the benefit, one day the younger brother decided to slaughter his share of the cow to end this exploitation. Punjab is not the ‘big brother’ they present it as but the only one wielding the cudgels, therefore it decides who gets what.

Barozai also said that elections had changed little, comparing it to “the change from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S”. However, in fact there is no change; the Baloch people did not participate and these Assemblies in no way represent their will. All political, economic, social or administrative measures that the incoming government implements or enacts will be as null and void as were those of the Raisani government. Then lamenting the lack of development, Barozai blamed the so-called public representatives and criticised their luxurious lifestyle. Certainly these representatives were not appointed by the Baloch people or the Sarmachars (insurgents) but by the establishment, which then allowed them to loot because they acquiesced in their demands of repressing the Baloch and facilitating the exploitation of resources.

Barozai should understand that it is not the “ignorant people in the media” who are misrepresenting the Balochistan situation, it is the ‘ignorant establishment and rulers’ who have messed it up. It is the daily harvest of bodies of abducted Baloch people and the never ending operations that have exacerbated an already bad situation and left people with no other option except that of resisting the injustices in any way they possibly can. The dead bodies, the repression, the operations and exploitation are not figments of our imagination but harsh realities that they refuse to see.

All federation loyalists are jockeying for the coveted Balochistan chief minister position, promising more loyalty. The establishment is pinning hopes that their CM will convince the Sarmachars to lay down their arms; they do not understand that the movement is no longer inspired by individuals or tribal loyalties, therefore nothing will change whosoever may become the CM.

People are expecting change from the old new set of rulers; call me a pessimist but I see no change in the offing. Once someone rushed to Mullah Naseeruddin to inform him that his mother-in-law had drowned; rushing to the river he asked for the spot where she drowned. Much to the amazement of his friends he started walking upstream; they suggested going downstream. He replied, “You didn’t know the lady, she obsessively acted differently and unconventionally. Certainly we will find her body somewhere upstream.” The establishment and the rulers like Mullah Naseeruddin’s mother-in law will never do what common sense and conventional wisdom demands and expects of them.

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

Courtesy: Daily Times 

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