Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur’s interview with
Bol Media Collective (BMC) on “The Overall Situation in Balochistan”
On March 1st, 2015 in Lahore.
BMC: Today, I am interviewing Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur (MMAT) on behalf of Bol Media Collective.
Mir Sahib, my first question is about the current situation of Balochistan’s political and other problems there. People of Punjab are totally unaware of these as the media never tells them and there is no other way of knowing it. As you have been long associated with this struggle so tell us what the political situation there is all about.
MMAT: Actually the present situation there was not created out of blue in one day. It has a historical continuum; when on 27th March 1948 Khan-e-Kalat was forced to sign the accession instrument of independent Balochistan with Pakistan. This problem has been there since.
Soon after that Prince Agha Abdul Kareem waged war against it. Then again in 1958 Khan-e-Kalat was attacked and arrested then Nawab Nauroz Khan fought in the mountains. He was hoodwinked and his sons and companions were executed. Then Sher Mohammad Khan Marri continued the Baloch struggle for rights. Then the 1973 insurgency arose when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto initiated military operations on large scale in Balochistan and people resisted. Atta-ullah Khan Mengal’s government was dismissed in February 1973. So naturally people resented as they were already deprived of their rights and they had hopes with that government but it was dismissed as well. There was widespread resentment against dismissal among the people and fought against this injustice.
Well, it was ended. As people say Baloch movement was finished. I don’t agree with that notion. First, great number of Baloch refugees went to Afghanistan and stayed there. Although Zia-ul-Haq declared amnesty for all, the usual formality that you all are pardoned and you can come back. The Baloch didn’t trust them and stayed there.
Secondly, the camps in Marri region and other areas were maintained because State’s intentions have always been suspected. Once bitten, twice shy. Hence quite naturally people persisted with the struggle. The Baloch resistance or the Baloch movement didn’t end. Yes, there was drawdown and a lull for a period of time. But after Musharraf came into power, Pakistan’s hostility towards Baloch was already there, but it emerged with more intensity. He said: “This is 1999 not the 1970s and they wouldn’t know what hit them.” Today he isn’t here anymore but Baloch are still resisting.
It intensified when Sardar Khair Bakhsh Khan was arrested and incarcerated on false charges in 2000 which couldn’t be proved as the charges were false? They were compelled to release him.
Then there was their confrontation with Nawab Akbar Bugti. They forced him move from one place to the other at such an advanced age. And eventually when he went to the Marri area where they attacked and martyred him. So it is a continuum. The situation today isn’t something spontaneous. It is a continuum and the people have resisted against it fiercely.
It still continues at present times which I mean since Musharraf’s advent. But since 2008 – heretofore they used to abduct people; Dr. Allah Nazar was abducted in 2005 and released in 2006. When he was released, he was in a near death condition.
They used to abduct people and release them after severe torture. After 2007-08 when PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government came in they adopted an organized and systematic policy of ‘kill and dump’. After abduction and torture of Baloch activist(s) they began to dump their mutilated dead bodies with slips in their pockets for identification. Mostly educated people were killed. The aim was to crush the educated youth activists and intimidate others that if you don’t refrain from talking about Baloch independence and put obstacles in our way to occupy Baloch resources, coast then same might happen to you too.
This policy still continues. More than 2000, I think now they are nearly 3000, dead bodies are found so far of those who were killed and dumped. I personally knew 23 of them whom I lived with in Afghanistan as refugees. I had personal relationship with them who were killed.
According to Mama Qadeer more than 20,000 people are missing. I know 6 to 7 people who are missing. The situation today is there is violence by the government and resistance by the Baloch.
I would like to say something about Dr. Malik as there is some confusion about him that he is a middle-class, nationalist, and representative of the people. All of this rubbish. You can guess only by this that he won his Kech seat by merely 4,000 votes because the Baloch Sarmachaar (rebels) had given a call to boycott the elections in Balochistan, therefore, people didn’t vote. In his constituency only 17% votes were casted. Moreover, the Deputy Speaker Quddoos Bezanjo won PB-42 Awaran by 544 votes. According to NADRA and Election Commission that 65% votes of 2013 election in Balochistan were bogus. How many votes remain for them if you minus 65% bogus votes. So, they are neither representatives nor they represent the Baloch. It is just to legitimize the F.C. (Frontier Corps) and Army government in Balochistan. They are their civilian face.
Whatever crimes are being perpetrated against the Baloch and Baloch rights, they are equal partners in it. It is in their interest that those Baloch who resist and demand their rights to be eliminated and weakened so that they could continue to collaborate with them for their own interests.
Now the situation is that Baloch demand nothing short of independence. That is why media punishes Baloch because they talk about independence and they are not reported. And many people justify the killing of Baloch by saying that “they are pro-independence, they want to break up Pakistan.”
You celebrate Kashmir Day. You shut down the whole country to celebrate Kashmir Day, chant slogans, raise flags and do everything. But you don’t think that Baloch have any right to be independent. As I said before March 27, 1948 they were independent. This is the situation now. It will remain the same as Baloch don’t expect anything from them. And Baloch think they have no choice but to fight.
BMC: Mir Sahib my next question is that I learned from your articles on social media that few months back in Turbat and other areas public libraries are being shut down. If they saw a youth carrying a book, they snatch it and tear it into pieces. So, such conduct of the state, shutting down bookshops, public libraries, books are being banned such as Lenin’s, Russell’s, Abul Kalam Azad’s books and some other nationalist material. They are banned there but available at any shop here. So, how do you see such attitude of the state and what is the reason behind it?
MMAT: The biggest weapon with every tyrant and occupying state is to paralyze the minds of the people; whether through media, school syllabus, or religious seminaries and mullahs. When you fail with those then you try stopping them physically. You will be surprised to know that three years ago students convened a book fair in Turbat Degree College; the FC raided that and boasted with pride, made movies that subversive literature is being distributed there and people are being instigated. As you said, they were the same books: Che Guevara’s, Bertrand Russell’s, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s, books on philosophy i.e. reading those books is kosher for everyone else but not for the Baloch.
They fear the books. Every tyrant fears the books. Hulago burnt the libraries of Iraq in Baghdad because they were afraid of books. In Balochistan people are being prevented in organized and systematic manner. Last year they assassinated Zahid Askani in Gwadar. He had a chain of schools and he taught English. He was educated abroad. He lived abroad and then came here to educate people. ISIS claimed responsibility for killing Zahid Askani. ISIS is just an upgraded version of a computer. It is like you upgraded Core 2 with a Core 5. It is just the change of name but in fact they sent them, these people belong to them are their proxies.
Just imagine when in September 2013 a huge earthquake struck Awaran. None of the Baloch organizations were allowed for relief and neither UNO nor any other organization, Oxfam etc. Though they had pleaded that after such a massive earthquake, they should be allowed for relief works. Instead they facilitated Jamat-ud-Dawa and other fundamentalist organizations. They are still there. You can still find their wall-chalking there. After their entry to Awaran, attacks began on Zikris. Zikri hate is being advocated and they are being harassed. They were never discriminated by the Baloch. They already use Shia-Sunni sectarianism against the Hazaras. Their proxies kill the Hazaras. Now they are doing the Zikri-Nimazi sectarianism among the Baloch as well.
The purpose of banning books, bringing in religious elements is part of their grand strategy, as it is called. The aim is to nullify the Baloch movement. The enemy is not attacking from one side. It is a three-pronged or four-pronged attack i.e. to attack Baloch from all sides. It is to crush the independence movement for which they are fighting.
BMC: Right. My next question is that nearly a year ago or more, Mama Qadeer’s long march came here who walked from Quetta to here then arrived at Islamabad. I also participated but I observed that very few select people of Lahore or Punjab participated. Only 50 to 100 people participated from a city of 10 million. How do you see Punjab’s this behavior?
MMAT: I think this behavior is due to the fact that our plight hasn’t reached the people i.e. what do we want, what Baloch want. Only a distorted image reaches people. Universally whatever the television or newspapers say is considered to be true. Whether it is the lie of Marshal Goring or the present information minister, who is that? (BMC: Pervez Rasheed.) Be it Parvez Rasheed or Shiekh Rasheed or Rahman Malik whosoever. Simply their lies are reliable and our truth isn’t believed.
I think it is ironic that Mama Qadeer who came from Quetta to Karachi on foot and then from Karachi and reached here. If nothing else at least he should’ve been commended on humanitarian basis or at least his courage should’ve been appreciated.
They are called “zesty people of Lahore”. Those zesty people should have at least shown that much zeal. We have no complaints because the friends who came forward to express support made up for a lot of that.
Our message is that you should know what our problems are; understand what we have to say. Whatever the government tells you isn’t true. They should look at the excesses being perpetrated in Balochistan. As I said you shut down the entire country for Kashmir. People organize huge protests for Palestine, for Rohingyas of Burma. If a cartoon is made people come out in millions. Inhumane repression being committed in Balochistan no one is bothered or vexed. So what do you expect how Baloch would react to a people who have no empathy for their problems; who doesn’t even show its sympathy to Baloch.
It isn’t a complaint. They themselves should understand it; it is not for me to make them understand. Humanity is neither Baloch, nor Punjabi, nor Sindhi, nor Pashtun. Humanity is of human being. If we don’t have humanity then we can neither be a Baloch nor Punjabi nor Pashtun. Islam and Muslim come later. First of all we are human beings. If we are not humans then we are worth nothing at all.
Therefore, I think we don’t need to make them understand rather they need to understand themselves. Because it is the era of social media, and on Facebook, Twitter, newspapers, blogs like Naked Punch is or Viewpointonline was, and different blogs where you can read all that stuff and make yourself understand. Because, all Baloch websites are blocked by the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority). Though all the hate mongering religious websites are permitted but Baloch websites which speak for their rights are proscribed.
First they create hurdles to convey our narrative in organized manner. It is not an enigma. If our truth reaches the people then they will better understand us.
BMC: Right. My last question is that in 1970s when you were part of this struggle, have you ever been arrested or tortured, the way state perpetrates against the Baloch or the activists of Baloch struggle? Have you ever seen it directly or experienced it?
MMAT: Unfortunately many of our friends and comrades were arrested. Whether you call it good luck or whatever, I was never arrested. It is irrelevant whether I was arrested or not but I feel for my friends and people I know, they are still being arrested like Zahid Baloch, Zakir Majeed, my friend and my student, Akbar Marri, Ali Khan Marri, and hundreds of others that I know are missing. The torture inflicted on them is you can imagine that how they dump mutilated dead bodies whose families even face difficulty identifying them. They identify them with some old mark on the body.
Whether I was a victim of their torture is irrelevant but the sorrow, sadness and anger that I feel about of my missing comrades are always with me. Whoever is victimized we feel sorry and anger for them. And it will remain so. As long as they perpetrate these injustices the anger will keep intensifying.
Nadir Shah’s savagery was but the retribution I deserved for my deeds.
They are reaping what they have sown.
If Bengal got freedom it was their doing for Bengalis were at the forefront for Pakistan’s creation. They were more enthusiastic than all that Pakistan be formed and for which they were ready to die; they were ready to do anything. But they pushed them to their limits and compelled them to not to remain with them. And they left.
Baloch were already independent for 227 days since August 11 (1947) to March 27, 1948. Then their independence was usurped.
The actual reason is the attitude of the rulers, the establishment, all those who have the authority who think that God created the universe on 14th August 1947. And there was nothing before that.
They forget that people have lived in this region for thousands of years. They have their own culture, traditions, history and everything. They want to erase everything and say that you must accept whatever Mohammad bin Qasim has said. How can it be possible that people will abandon their thousands of years of history and follow their August 1947’s notion?
BMC: Right. Thank you so much Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur Sahib.