The Colonial Confusion and Baloch Politics


Just few months before his martyrdom , Saba Dashtayri published an article in a Balochi language periodical discussing the state of colonial confusion in the early days surfacing of differences among Baloch nationalist parties. While briefly discussing the meaning of colonial confusion, he negated the idea of any prospect of emergence of real conflict situation by terming the differences as fabricated by an intriguing Pakistani establishment and its puppets. These were good old calm days where never erupted such a situation and the prospect of armed clashes among Baloch freedom fighters was even unimaginable by an ordinary nationalist activist.

We were all in a state of denial, swayed over by an aura of age marked with slogans, dreams, ideology and somehow stupidities. We would immediately counter any argument perceiving rivalry among different stakeholders within the national struggle structure. This was an age of unity, at least among the common people without any affiliation with any organization but sympathizing with the overall struggle for freedom.

All the dreams of united struggle shattered when Baloch Liberation Army attacked its offshoot United Baloch Army in the second half of 2014. It is the first incident of Baloch hundred years of struggle when an armed organization attacked another nationalist organization. Many ordinary minds were exasperated of existence of this reality that they can no more deny in coming thousands of years.

 What went wrong?

In 2004 I was a student in Karachi when I first heard that a bomb went off in Gwadar killing Chinese engineers , claimed by Baloch Liberation Front that was unknown previously. Soon other such armed organizations carried out similar activities. After this an age of romanticizing of the struggle began where the armed movement occupied the center of the universe of Baloch movement. All the existing nationalist parties rallied behind the idea of armed resistances and rejected any peaceful means of struggle, even institutions buildings within the movement were put off and were not considered necessary.

In 2006 when Pakistani forces martyred Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation it shunned any peaceful settlement of dispute between Pakistani state and Baloch. Both sides favored their armed wings to resolve the issue of Baloch resistance.

With the martyrdom of Balach Marri and Ghulam Mohd in 2007 and 2009 respectively, the political activists came to a conclusion that Pakistani state had decided to kill all nationalist striving for free Balochistan. This forced nationalist either to join armed struggle or leave Balochistan and seek asylum in other countries. Here emerged a meager nationalist Diaspora that was soon to become an engine for creating rifts among the nationalists.

One of the questions that may exasperate ordinary mind is: what went wrong? I would also want to repeat the two words answer to the all problems like Saba Dashtayari : Colonial Confusion

The cultural of mistrust lies within the nature of Baloch struggle. The Baloch social fabric has long been that of an unjust where question of ownership of everything lies with the upper class, the sardars. Theoretically, sardar is representative of people but in practices people have been regarded a property of sardar as well. Sardars became omnipotent when Balochistan was colonized by the British empire in the second half of the 19th century. However, in exceptional cases there emerged sardars who sacrificed everything for the wellbeing of his people.

What colonization did to Baloch society and politics?

With the sardars becoming all and all it created an unjust society where the upper few had hegemony over power, economy, religion, education and even the mean of communications. Pakistan continued same policy of sardari system, even granting chieftains more power to oppress the local people. It is reminiscent of state structures in medieval Europe where the state relied on dukes and lords to manage their own affairs by granting them utmost power to rule and persecute the people while at the same time showing its allegiances and loyalty to the kings. This preindustrial ruling approach still persists in Balochistan where the colonizer deliberately kept the people backward without doing any meaningful works that could have transformed the society in the modern lines. The system also created  rivalry among sardars to get more from their new masters and in turn get back more favors.

General Dyer in his book “The Raiders of Sarahad” gives a detailed sketch how he carried out a policy of divide and rule to subdue the revolting chiefs in Sarhad, Balochistan. His strategy was based on creating fears and confusion among rivaling chiefs of Sarahad to subdue them.

The British successfully carried out their policy of divide and rule in Balochistan. Pakistan got this policy in heritance from their past masters and has so far carried out the same strategy. It has resulted in extreme polarization in Baloch society especially in politics. There are too many parties, too many factions of the same parties and even with same name. For example BSO has more than one factions and each one claims that it’s the righteous one.

There are too many facts, too many perspectives on the same thing, multiples points of views and in short too many conspiracy theories. Even a glimpse on social media it can easily be observed  how cadres of each political party accuse one another as traitors, seller of blood of martyrs and Pakistani and ISI agents. However this media debate is result of colonial confusion but also choreographed, planned and aimed at deconstructing the ideology and goal of an independent Balochistan that Baloch has been struggling for decades. The perpetrators know well where to hit the nails : they know the historical mistrust, tribal rivalries, an unjust social system with its own myths and beliefs that have successfully been penetrated and deconstructed by hundreds years of colonization. There is also personal projection of the leaders and their quest for supremacy.

The popularity of Baloch struggle in the West also has brought forth a small group of people who have strived to profit from the economy that war offers. The big corporate companies that aim at getting mining exploration contracts have a feeling that even if they would get the contracts from Pakistan , Baloch guerrillas will resist this move. Thus they approached few politicians and activists to make them agree with a proposal of paying tax or booties not to interrupt their activities. These ventures have given birth the war profiteer class that has been maneuvering to put pressure on guerillas to tow to their lines or face a huge propaganda campaign maligning them. The quest has resulted in a massive and organized propaganda campaign on social media where the freedom activists were not only maligned and accused but also organizational secrets were leaked in publics. The social media front has created deep fissures among the political parties. This could not be replaced until serious and matured writers starts writing and educating the Baloch people.

Unfortunately, since last 15 years slogans and romanticizing have dominated the movement. The cadres were not trained properly in political education but been made as the tools of political campaign that would create good activists but without political knowledge in real sense. Thus there is a paucity of an academic approach to the issues encircling Baloch politics.

These all factors have created a confusion that needs to be tackled sooner or later. However the colonial confusion will not end until the overall society goes through a complete revitalization, eliminating all deconstruction created by hundred years of colonial rules. That is only possible when Baloch go back to their roots.

Courtesy:  Zahidabdulla’s Blog



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