Desolating pestilence – Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur


Desolating pestilence takes heart from the fact that the majority here refuses to see its real face under different excuses to console themselves for not supporting what is just and right 

Mir Muhammad Ali TalpurCecil, the popular lion who lived in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, was killed in early July. He was lured out of the park and wounded with a crossbow by a US dentist, Walter James Palmer, assisted by a hunter, Theo Bronkhorst, and a local farmer, Honest Trymore Ndlovu, from Minnesota. He was finally killed by Palmer after 40 hours of tracking. Palmer spent around $ 50,000 to kill him. When the news broke the world was up in arms and a petition to Zimbabwean President Mugabe demanding punishment for Palmer collected more than 164,500 signatures within hours. Sadly, here even when people are killed no one stirs.

The reaction in the developed world at this outrage cannot be said to be out of proportion as people there often protest against injustices. They protested against the Iraq War in February 2003 and millions marched underlining their opposition to it though these protests were overlooked by those who were benefitting materially.

Pakistan is accused of killing and dumping Baloch political activists and is now trying to solve the problems in Sindh with the same tactics that alienated the Baloch people. On June 4, 2015, Dahir Dahesar, aka Raja Dahir, 40, the son of 80-year-old Mr Ata Mohammad Bhambhro, a prominent writer and historian of Sindh with 40 books to his credit, was abducted from Bachal Bhambhro village, district Khairpur. The abductors came in more than 50 vehicles. Mr Bhambhro reported the illegal arrest but the police refused to register it. Then, addressing a press conference, he said that his son was, of course, a political worker but not a terrorist.

Raja Dahir was a professional geologist with a Master’s degree from Mehran University of Technology and was also the joint secretary of the Sindhi nationalist party, Jeay Sindh Muthaida Mahaz (JSMM). He had been very supportive of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons Long March led by Mama Abdul Qadeer when it traversed Sindh on foot towards Islamabad. The JSSM is now the target of a brutal crackdown by the Pakistani establishment and 40 of its members have turned up dead following their illegal detention.

Comrade Hussain Bakhsh Thebo, the veteran Sindhi nationalist, called for a protest against this illegal abduction outside the Karachi Press Club on June 26. A month later, on July 26, Raja Dahir was no longer missing as his body with two bullets in his skull had been found near Nooriabad; his fingerprints, sent to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) by police, disclosed his identity. Justice is no longer part of governance by the establishment. They commit these murders because they get away with it.

Raja Dahir is not the first and with the impunity that the establishment enjoys he will not be the last. Shaheed Sirai Qurban Khuhawar, who was senior vice chairman of JSMM and demanded Sindh’s rights, was killed. He remained undeterred by the frequent threats he received for raising his voice against injustices and the plundering of resources of the Sindhi nation. On April 21, 2011, he, with three party members, Shaheed Rooplo Cholyani, Noorullah Tunio and Nadar Bugti, were going to Hyderabad to attend corner meetings in various cities of Sindh for the death anniversary programme of renowned Sindhi nationalist Saien G M Syed. A double cabin white vehicle kept tailing them and when they reached Bakhori Mori in Khipro, another car suddenly blocked theirs and armed men fired at them. Then they put some chemicals over the car and Sirai Qurban Khuhawar with Rooplo Cholyani and Nadar Bugti were burnt alive in the car. Miraculously, Noorullah Tunio was extracted alive by the villagers who had witnessed the tragedy unfold; he died after recording his statement to the police.

Muzaffar Bhutto, the JSMM’s secretary general, went missing on February 25, 2011. His wife, Saima Bhutto, appealed to the international community and human rights organisations for his recovery and petitioned the Sindh High Court requesting his freedom from illegal custody, without any result. Then, on May 22, 2012, her 42-year-old husband’s corpse was dumped near Hyderabad. The central leader of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), Maqsood Ahmed Qureshi, brother of the late former JSQM chairman, Bashir Khan Qureshi, along with party man Salman Wadho suffered the fate of Sirai Qurban Khuhawar near Nausharo Feroz on March 21, 2014. They had gone missing a day before and on that fateful day villagers saw their car engulfed in fire; both had been shot.

The state’s brutality against those who do not subscribe to their worldview and the fabricated ideology that those residing within the geographical confines of Pakistan are a nation stems from the insecurity that the establishment feels as it fears that defiance of their official ideology by people will endanger their power, which they assume is a gift from Allah. They ignorantly believe that they are the chosen ones of the earth and they try to defend their power by using the foulest of means. Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whate’er it touches.” The power that is a bane for people is indeed a “desolating pestilence”.

This desolating pestilence takes heart from the fact that the majority here refuses to see its real face under different excuses to console themselves for not supporting what is just and right or indulging in things that have nothing to do with the living and life. The day I was going to attend the protest called by Thebo Sahib on the highway I saw plenty of buses loaded to the top with people carrying thousands to ‘lahoot’ for the yearly Shah Noorani pilgrimage while sadly there were very few people at the protest.

I have seen devotees going for Qalandar’s Urs and Shah Bhitai’s Urs. They come in droves with families, even infants, undertake the hardships of the journey and stay at shrines quite willingly; they pay homage to the respected dead but are oblivious to the problems of the living. As long as people here will live for the dead at the cost of the living, the desolating pestilence that affects all will remain invincible and lethal.

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

Courtesan: Daily Times

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