The stinking well – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

If extrajudicial killings (read murder) are committed in full public view with impunity, just imagine what the situation is like in Balochistan and Waziristan where the media is barred  

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurA friend recently visited Karachi and on finding it more peaceful than before, commended it. However, I told him that this apparent peace was transitory and that there would be an even more dangerous and vicious Karachi. For that matter, every place would become even more dangerous and vicious because the harsh and cruel measures being employed neither address nor change the conditions responsible for the deep rot that continues to eat away at the very innards of society, which has now forsaken itself and continues to slide deeper and deeper into the morass of chaos, violence, intolerance, crime, corruption, hate and apathy. The powers expected to put it right are overwhelmed by the arrogance of self-righteousness on assuming that they are the chosen ones and are spurred on towards destruction by ignorance — the natural consequence of this arrogance. Those supposed to bring about improvement are the very ones whose interest lies in keeping things the same for their material benefits.

To explain, I told him the anecdote of the stinking well. A cat fell into the village well and died. The villagers went to a sage to ask about ways to cleanse the water. He told them to drain 100 bucketfuls to make it halal (clean). Despite that the stink persisted so he advised another 100 bucketfuls and yet another but the water still stank to seventh heaven. Surprised, he asked if they had removed the dead cat and they replied in the negative. He said that till the cat remained there, draining was futile. This exactly is the case here as bucketfuls are drained by extrajudicial killings but the cat, a warped system, remains, so no good will result. Extrajudicial killings may have brought apparent peace but the basis of the chaos and violence remains firmly entrenched. The stinking well continues to stink and will do so forever.

The establishment’s method of choice for solving all sorts of problems is extrajudicial killings, hangings, bombings, displacing people and encounters by the military and police. Although the complete impunity and immunity that it enjoys puts no bar on the number it can safely kill — as the 1971 events and military operations in Balochistan to clear off any possible obstacle in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) prove — they cannot kill all, especially when there are always others there to replace the dead. Therefore, these methods will bring neither peace to Karachi nor will they to Balochistan or Waziristan and FATA because history shows that even the most repressive regimes and empires were unable to sustain themselves through force.

The term ‘establishment’ needs to be defined. The Heraldo Muñoz Report defined the establishment as: “The establishment is generally used in Pakistan to refer to those who exercise de facto power; it includes the military high command and the intelligence agencies, together with the top leadership of certain political parties, high-level members of the bureaucracy and business persons who work in alliance with them. The military high command and intelligence agencies form the core of the establishment and are its most permanent and influential components.” The politicians, bureaucracy, judiciary and, of course, the media are an integral part of the establishment.

The recently released Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP’s) figures for the current year show that in the first six months, 255 suspects were killed in police encounters in Karachi, marking a 64 percent increase over the corresponding 2014 period. Of these, 217 died in police encounters while 38 died in paramilitary encounters. Ever since the security operation commenced in Karachi in September 2013, casualties have mounted. Official figures tell that 925 suspects were killed extrajudicially in Karachi by the police and Rangers in 2014. In Lahore, there have been over 100 encounters since December 2014. In March, Sanaullah Abbasi, the deputy inspector general (DIG) Hyderabad police, said that extrajudicial killings cannot be justified officially but society had come to accept this ‘modus operandi’ of the police to eradicate crimes and make the streets safer.

So, ponder: if these extrajudicial killings (read murders) are committed in full public view with impunity, just imagine what the situation is like in Balochistan and Waziristan where the media is barred. The Supreme Court (SC), in August 2013, said it had substantial evidence against the Frontier Corps (FC) regarding missing persons cases. A million persons displaced from North Waziristan still languish in camps and, when they protest, are fired upon by the army. Some 178,000 Bugtis were displaced when Nawab Akbar Khan was killed and though the SC ordered their return, they were stopped from returning by the FC in March 2014.

Extrajudicial killings and military operations do not address the real issues. Existing opportunities for a decent life for the people keep decreasing because of the pressure on existing resources by the ever-increasing population and the near absence of creation of new ones. Presuming that development were quadrupled, it would remain insufficient and the criminal, religious mafias and people in general would continue to fight for the meagre available resources. Many may be killed today but there will always be more to continue on the same path because the cat stays in the well. There is essentially nothing done to address the basis of these problems.

The Baloch people have been at the receiving end since March 27, 1948 and have been beaten with different traitor, separatist, foreign agent, anti-progress sticks. The establishment, blinded by its power and ignorance, does not heed the writing on the wall and continues to employ brute force to crush the people who refuse to let their rights be trampled upon and their resources exploited.

Balochistan, especially the Awaran, Mashkai region, is at present out of bounds to all, from where daily reports of military operations continue to pour in. The lucrative deals for the CPEC have prompted the establishment to annihilate anything that does or can create problems for their Chinese friends. In the Mashkai operation on June 30, Sulaiman Baloch (aka Shehak Baloch), the nephew of Dr Allah Nazar, after being injured, recorded a message for his family and friends. He, although certain of death, asked his friends to not give up their struggle. His body was mutilated after he died. The video of his message went viral and it was removed by anti-Baloch cyber hacks. Even if thousands are killed, the problem is not going to go away as the cat will remain in the well. Moreover, a people who have Shehaks among them cannot be easily subdued.

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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