BALOCHISTAN: RAIDING THE BOOKS, PATRONIZING THE POPPY CULTIVATION



Books on Balochistan confiscated by pakistan

The Pakistani establishment is out to destroy the Baloch nation by denying them knowledge and the understanding of their history.

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurChristian Johann Heinrich Heine (December 13, 1797 – February 17, 1856) was a journalist, an essayist, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. A hundred years before Hitler burnt books which the Nazis thought were unpatriotic and subversive, he had said: “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings” and this is exactly what happened during the Nazi rule. Not only in Germany but  across Europe. Book burning is known as biblioclasm or libricide and is carried out because rulers’ fear the written words and knowledge; it has a long history and is prompted by the fear of dissent and diversity by those in authority and is aimed at denying people the counter-narrative. This usually begins with a few books but slowly expands with the increasing insecurity of the establishments.

وائے وطن ہُشکیں دار

The Pakistani establishment has now begun burning books in Balochistan though it started burning Baloch people long before they started devoting attention to books. The attention on books is result of the increased resistance to the exploitation and oppression which has gone on since March 27th 1948. 

Last week, the police raided book shops in Gwadar and confiscated the book “Waae Watan Hoshken Daar” authored by Major Majid, now residing in Muscat. The title of the book means, “One cries and yearns for one’s motherland even if it is dry wood”. That is, one’s motherland, even if it is a parched land, is dearer to one than Paradise. The establishment doesn’t want the Baloch to love their motherland instead forces them to adore their Pakistan.

They also confiscated two well-known books on Balochistan’s history — Lala Hatto Ram’s ‘Tareekh-i-Balochistan’ and Dr Shah Mohammad Marri’s ‘Baloch’, the shop owner was arrested; a day before two shopkeepers were arrested on similar charges in Turbat. Keeping Baloch and Balochistan’s history books is now a crime in Balochistan. George Orwell understood how establishments worked and rightly said: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” The Pakistani establishment is out to destroy the Baloch nation by denying them knowledge and the understanding of their history.

The latest attempt to deny Baloch the knowledge about their history was preceded by a raid on 13th January by the Frontier Corps (FC) on a book fair held at Atta Shad Degree College Turbat. After that raid one Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Azam of FC bragged they had seized anti-Pakistan literature, books, maps, posters and banners and accused the BSO (Azad) using students for their designs on the dictates of foreign powers. In Balochistan books by Bertrand Russell, Gandhi, Nehru and others are termed subversive while the same books were freely available at the recent Punjab University book fair; call this double standards or anything you like; it is an organized attempt to keep Baloch in ignorance of world. They want that the Baloch only read their doctored text books which systematically distort past and present history denying them the opportunity to read anything which counters state narrative so that they have acquiescent minds. 

The state and its institutions which abhor books and enlightened Baloch patronize drug dealing and this isn’t a figment of my imagination. A minister has stated this in the assembly. On 29th March, the Balochistan Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the government to end poppy cultivation on thousands of acres of irrigated land in Qilla Abdullah district of Balochistan bordering Afghanistan. The provincial minister Dr Hamid Achakzai tabled the resolution in the house, saying that poppy is being cultivated with impunity. He said: “Qila Abdullah is notorious for the open sale of hashish. There are around 120 heroin factories in the district.” He further said, “The police, Frontier Corps (FC), the Anti-Narcotics Force and even Pakistan Army are present in Qila Abdullah but still this illegal business is thriving”.  A member Ubaidullah Babat said, “There are some religious people who are doing this business. I even do not consider them religious people because they are spoiling the atmosphere.” Ironically the establishment which considers enlightening books subversive is very lax on hard drugs like heroin and opium which are the real scourge of mankind.

Turning a blind eye to this criminal activity means there is connivance on all levels in all institutions including the police, Frontier Corps (FC), the Anti-Narcotics Force and the Pakistan Army. Seemingly this has religious sanction too as a member said religious people too are involved. There can be only one reason for promoting and tolerating this crime which simply is the massive profits that drug trade brings to those who deal in them and also to those patronizing it. The morality, the values, the religiosity, the conscience and piety are all lulled into a deep sleep when the lullaby is sung by the dollars and rupees and that is exactly what is happening in Qilla Abdullah. There is no hope that these institutions will wake up anytime soon. Ironically, on 6th May 2011 the Inspector General Frontier Corps (IGFC) Major General Ubaidullah Khan had launched eradication of the poppy cultivation in Gulistan area of Qilla Abdullah district, but seemingly the illicit business has prospered.  

Certainly all the heroin produced in 120 factories is not consumed locally and it surely doesn’t reach the estimated 6.4 million drug addicts in Pakistan via teleportation because until now science hasn’t yet developed enough to accomplish that. This heroin comes by different routes which are supervised by different law enforcement agencies and cannot reach say Karachi unless a blind eye is turned to it; money ensures blindness in the people in authority. Reports indicate that about 40 per cent of the Afghan heroin i.e. some 240 tons passes through Pakistan to reach different parts of globe. A lot of money is made at each step and therefore no one is interested in stopping it; in fact those who profit encourage it as is apparent from the Qilla Abdullah example.

A well read Baloch would mean a more committed nationalist and this is what the Pakistani establishment fears. Those Baloch who have been made victims of forced disappearances, those whose bodies were dumped in different parts of Balochistan and those who were killed in fake encounters were educated and dedicated Baloch who had acquired political understanding by reading and witnessing the daily injustices against Baloch. Such Baloch become a threat to the establishment’s policy of enslaving Baloch and Balochistan and are thus eliminated while on the other hand the notorious drug king Imam Bheel and his son Yakoob enjoy state patronage as respected members of Dr. Malik’s National Party. Qilla Abdullah thrives with drug trade while New Kahan, Awaran, Mashkay, Dera Bugti, Marri area, Kalat and places where people resent state oppression are subjected to military operations and a reign of terror. The recent killing of supposedly 40 militants in Kalat is an example. This is the ‘body count’ policy which the US army carried out in Vietnam and all killed were termed Viet Cong while here they are called ‘militants’. In such encounters mostly the ordinary Baloch is killed and such encounters are on the rise and are replacing the kill and dump policy.

The book burning will continue in Balochistan because there isn’t a chance that political and radical books’ trade would ever become as lucrative as the poppy cultivation while heroin factories of Qilla Abdullah merit patronage of Pakistani establishment. The Baloch youth should, however, continue to acquire knowledge through books of substance specially those which the Pakistani state considers a threat to its spuriously fabricated ethos that it wants to impose on Baloch and claims that religion is the basis of nationhood. It is this ethos which they claim to be superior to all that allows heroin and opium trade to flourish in Qilla Abdullah but oppresses those who seek knowledge and demand their rights. The choice for Baloch is unmistakable and it is up to them to decide if it is the Qilla Abdullah ethos they want to follow or the “Waae Watan Hoshken Daar” ethos. 

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

 

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