The importance of a Journal like the ‘Jabal’ of the Baloch Peoples Liberation Front (BPLF) may be lost upon and be entirely incomprehensible to generations that have the news and views at their fingertips and live in an era when dissemination of news and views is no longer the sole monopoly and prerogative of States.
Today’s world is very different from the world of 70s; then dissemination of news and views was controlled by state and it successfully suppressed truth and disseminated lies unchallenged and it was this situation which needed to be countered forcefully and prompted the birth of ‘Jabal’; to present the alternate narrative of the people in contrast to the State’s lies and untruths. Those who came up with ‘Jabal’ understood that “As long as Hunters wrote History only the Hunters would be Glorified”. Jabal was the narrative of the hunted and it fulfilled its obligation admirably.
The circumstances under which Jabal was produced may not be understood unless a background and the situation and circumstances in then Balochistan are known and which have successfully been blacked out by State and may be erased from collective memory if not highlighted.
The ‘Dissident Histories of Pakistan’ by The South Asian Resource and Research Centre (SARRC) Archive and Revolutionary Papers (RP) Digital Teaching Tools is attempting to highlight those circumstances and situation by presenting the alternative narrative.
I will, here, briefly present facts to help understand the ‘BPLF’ and ‘Jabal’. Beginning with forced annexation of Kalat State in greater Balochistan by Pakistan on March 27th 1947 prompted an insurgency by Shahzada Abdul Karim and its end after his arrest on false assurances. Then came the second assault on Kalat on October 6th 1958 on false accusations of Khan Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan’s attempts to secede. This resulted in insurgency by Nawab Nauroz Khan Zarakzai and comrades who too gave up arms on false promises and were rewarded with a military court trial followed by hanging of seven of his comrades on July 15th 1960.
The Baloch resentment also resulted in Mir Sher Mohammad Marri led ‘Parari Movement’ which was based in the northeastern Marri agency and put paid the State writ there from 1962-1969. The 1970 elections under General Yahya Khan led to National Awami Party aligned Baloch leaders’ victory in Balochistan. Sardar Ataullah Mengal was reluctantly allowed to form the provincial government on May 1st 1972. However, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto led central government created hurdles in its normal governance and matters came to a head with the dramatized arms find in Iraqi Military Attaché’s residence in Islamabad leading to Ataullah government dismissal on February 13th 1973.
Past injustices and the unjust dismissal of Ataullah government transformed the Baloch peoples’ simmering resentment to open armed conflict when on 18th May 1973, eight Sibi Scouts were killed in an ambush near Tandoori near Sibi, Balochistan. In response the government ferried troops in helicopters to Mawand in Marri Agency and the third and the most important insurgency of Baloch began. This insurgency is historically important because it was the most organized and longest till then and without this being the trailblazer in approach and tactics the subsequent Baloch struggle for rights would have lost its way.
The ‘Parari’ or ‘Farari’ Movement had to evolve and change as the conflict’s needs demanded it and it became the BPLF which with its fluid and evolving nature took up the challenge of defending Baloch Rights in a more organized manner. Loosely structured it may have been but was a step forward and did represent Baloch aspirations and introduced them to the world as ‘Parari Movement’ could never have done. BPLF was the natural qualitatively higher stage of the Parari movement and transformed the way the world looked at Baloch struggle for rights.
The Journal ‘Jabal’ was the product of a necessity to counter State narrative and to disseminate the political stance of BPLF along with the news and ground facts to people who would otherwise never learn of because of the severe curbs on Baloch narrative which included jailing of all Baloch leaders in the infamous “Hyderabad Conspiracy Tribunal” and use of state and mainstream media to malign and demonize Baloch struggle for rights. This very important obligation was fulfilled by ‘Jabal’; an obligation that carried immense risks for those who heroically produced it.
Possessing a copy of ‘Jabal’ was equivalent of carrying a ‘Black Warrant’ and that was because the State saw the counter narrative as threatening its very edifice and structure (it still does) so spared no effort to suppress truth. If possessing a copy carried a death sentence with it imagine what fate the authors, publishers and distributors would have faced if they were found out. The Baloch and all those who have been helped by the alternate narrative should remain indebted and extremely thankful to the authors and producers of ‘Jabal’ for they put their lives on line to uphold Baloch Rights and the legacy of Truth.
I will conclude this with the quote from the last issue of ‘Jabal’ of April 1978 before it was suspended for this quote sums up what the stance and standpoint Baloch leadership and the authors was regarding the Baloch and the BPLF struggle for Rights.
“In Baluchistan today, the armed revolution is fighting the armed counterrevolution. Here, “it is no longer the question of one unit or its breakup” or “constitutional safeguards for minority nationalities” or “greater power to provinces.” These are mere platitudes and totally pointless starters for resolving the problem because the Liberation Front has raised the question to its highest point – that is, armed struggle for the national and democratic rights and the total liberation of the people of Baluchistan.”
Little wonder then that ‘Jabal’ was a journal that gave nightmares to the rulers.