Of the? By the? For the?

“A people living under the perpetual menace of war and invasion is very easy to govern. It demands no social reforms. It does not haggle over expenditures on armaments and military equipment. It pays without discussion. It ruins itself; and that is an excellent thing for the syndicates of financiers and manufacturers for whom patriotic terrors are an abundant source of gain.”

Jacques Anatole Thibault (1844-1924)

This quote sends shivers down the spine because it is so surrealistically true in our context. It enunciates the sordid tactic which the rulers here employed ruthlessly to make their self-aggrandising agenda pass for an ideology. They then intimidated the people into submission, forcing acceptance of every injustice without a murmur under threat of being labelled traitors. It helped them impose their world view on the majority without a consideration for their history, culture and basic human rights. That the people could have feelings or views independent of the ruling ideology was something absolutely alien to the heartless elite. They were not bothered about civility or moral and legal niceties; they rode roughshod.

The worst fears and best sentiments of the people were deftly used to impoverish them historically, socially, economically, and politically. No dissent or deviation from the ruler’s ideology was tolerated. They used what Anatole France calls “patriotic terrors” to keep the people in line. The fear of being branded unpatriotic forced most to accept every ignominy in silence, yet there were many who openly resented the charade and its injustices and in turn were branded as traitors.

The people of this country were never a priority for the rulers here. Their status secondary and superfluous, they had no say in their own affairs, deserving only to be manipulated, exploited or oppressed as suited the warped preferences of the rulers. Their fates were decided by those who had no inkling of how people thought or subsisted. For them people’s existence was only a means to their ends. People simply became figures to be bandied about when speaking of poverty lines or election results or literacy rates.

People being only an ephemeral concern, everything became subservient to the goals as planned, envisaged and executed by the rulers for the protection and pursuance of the ideology which directly benefited them only. All had to shed their cultures, their history and their languages to satisfy the newly imposed criteria and the new ideology. This rigid ideology and the demand for its unquestioning acceptance created intense resentment, rift, and friction between the people and the rulers. The mayhem and anarchy witnessed here today is a direct consequence of that disastrous policy and unfortunately it is still being maliciously pursued by the elite.

The resentment, discord and disenchantment created among people by elite-centred and anti-people policies resulted in violence from those who sought to preserve their rights, their history, their culture and their languages. To keep the dissenters in check, it became imperative for the rulers to have a very strong military. Gradually the army became central in every matter.

The army on its part instinctively understood its indispensability to the ruling elite. It considered that being the ruler was certainly a better option than being an instrument of the rulers. Soon it became the sole repository of power and assumed the role of the protector of the ideology and demanded unflinching and unquestioning obedience from all for its new role. It took upon itself to guarantee compliance from all with no regard for the historical and ethnic diversity that was inherited at the time of independence.

The military’s preponderance created an anomalous situation and blurred the lines between the interests of the ruling classes and national interest, between the ideology it considered supreme and the dictum ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’. It promoted and patronized the ideology and the mindset which benefited none other than the military itself and those who unquestioningly supported it. It was at this altar that the people’s rights, diversity of culture, history and languages were sacrificed. These were earmarked for the dustbin of history but some people had probably not read the script and vehemently opposed this relegation of their identities into oblivion. This invited the ire and wrath of the ruling elite and to ensure conformity, force was used unhesitatingly.

Moreover the dogmatically macho attitudes of the rulers here created an increasingly violence-prone and intolerant society, as is manifested by everyday state, political, social, sectarian and criminal violence. Violence was and has been patronized, condoned and used as a state policy in relation not only to supposedly bellicose and belligerent neighbouring states but also against their own populations, it being used with impunity as happened in Bangladesh and now in Balochistan.

The Establishment’s penchant for resolving all contentious issues by use of indiscriminate force lies fraught with hazards. This, as experience shows, they do not seem to consider or comprehend. The ‘jackboot’ solution to all problems resulted in the loss of a part of the country in 1971 and in the irreversible alienation of people of the smaller provinces, yet they insist on employing it vindictively and indiscriminately, Balochistan and Waziristan being recent examples. The people have borne the brunt of this intransigence towards the provinces in the form of brutal repression, pauperization, a very uncertain future and an insecure existence.

This ideology and modus operandi was and still is aggressive and confrontational to the extreme, as is apparent from the 1971, 1973 experiences and recent operations in Balochistan. It is set to continue and intensify because of the fact that the interests of the rulers and the people here are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable. The predatory ruling class is concerned with the profits of the mega-projects and not with the sentiments of the people of the smaller provinces.

This attitude along with reckless policies have not only prevented any social and political cohesion between diverse nationalities and political groups but shattered any sense of cohesion that may have existed in hope of a bright future in a newly created homeland.

Since independence no attempt has ever been made to understand the grievances of the minority provinces. The rights of tribes over the lands were done away with without even considering the views of those affected. The languages too have suffered the same fate at the hands of the new ideologues. The self-righteous rulers have considered it below their dignity to engage in dialogue with those who demand their rights. This attitude has aggravated the conflict, putting it beyond the pale of reconciliation.

Seeking solutions for minority provinces and the people within the framework of the prevalent intransigent statist ideology is analogous to extracting butter by churning water. This statist ideological intransigence has been conveniently labelled as the ‘writ of the state’ or ‘supreme national interest’ or ‘Pakistan first’, depending on the gallery being played to. Creating hysteria with these slogans has been remarkably easy and advantageous for the ruling elite and has helped them literally to get away with murder.

The recent brutality and scale of operations against the Baloch people should not be seen in isolation from the dominant statist ideology. The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti and his companions is a tactic and an extension of this ideology, which is set to intensify and expand as it is heedless to the aspirations of the people. The self-congratulatory attitude and absolute lack of remorse for a crime of this proportion is an indicator of what lies in store for the people.

People are being forced to find solutions to the problem by not conforming to what is acceptable for the rulers. The repeated insurgency in Balochistan since the creation of Pakistan is a strong indicator of what people there demand and the unending problems are not because of the ‘three Sardars’. The problem persists simply because the state’s intransigence leaves people with no other option except to fight to the last. Pushed into a corner, the people consider it their right to resist. They realize without resistance they are destined for oblivion.

A change in attitudes will come only when the prevailing statist ideology is defeated and permanently dismantled. Its defeat, dismantlement and dispersion will result in people and provinces regaining their rights. The question arises, with the government showing little tolerance even for demonstrations by members of civil society, is it possible to do away with this blatantly anti-people situation?

The rulers, past and present, will have to pay for their misdemeanours and atrocities. A day will come when people will overcome their wily ways to make them accountable for their excesses and injustices; for “The mills of the Gods grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small.”

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

This article was first published on 19 September 2006 in The Post

Download Ustad Talpur App

Ustad Talpur is the Official App of Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur and a small tribute for his uncompromising commitment to and tireless long struggle for Baloch rights.

Leave a comment

Filed under Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s