Who calls the shots here? – II


Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The British had fully mastered and perfected the art of subjugating and colonizing people with the active help and connivance of some people from among those they intended to subjugate. The British were also ingenious at inflicting indignities; they employed it in all forms and on all people. In the process of colonization this was perhaps the most important and effective weapon. They consecrated the disgraceful and abject surrender to authority while they demonized and ruthlessly penalized all those who offered any resistance to their malicious political, cultural, social and economic assault on established societies. They subdued this vast region with the help of mercenaries and collaborators who opted to sell the destinies of their nations and people for their narrow and contemptible personal gains.

The British were farsighted in their policies and understood the need of controlling the populace through the services of local collaborators who would serve their purposes in future as well. They nurtured, nourished and groomed those who were willing to serve and obey unconditionally. They created an affluent class of their liking, a class of brown sahibs; to help keep people in check .These people were more loyal to the king than the king himself. They served loyally then and continue to serve with even more vigour today. These brown sahibs have been a scourge for the colonized, our region suffering the most at their hands. They certainly surpassed their teachers in the skills of suppressing and oppressing the people and continue to practice those skills to retain their newly acquired ‘empires’.

The British in efforts to enrich themselves and create a proxy class, impoverished the populace in general. The impoverished people meekly submitted to all injustices and indignities because poverty not only erodes self-respect but also the will to resist injustices and indignities. Poverty itself is the worst form of indignity. It leaves very little time and opportunity for the people to indulge in the luxury of opposing colonialism.

These brown sahibs knew they had an enormous task of imposing the new monolithic nationalism, which they ardently believed was an Allah-ordained mission, on the subjugated nations because they had histories, culture and languages as old as mountains. To accomplish it they knew more force than persuasion would be required and found the armed forces a willing accomplice in the undertaking. It is ironic that this partner along the way decided to become the sole caretaker of the mission of grinding the opposition to submission and knocking some sense into the heads of the people.

Many strategies and devices are employed by the subjugators to break down the defences of probable opponents to their sinister designs. To overcome the resistance of an opponent it is necessary to silence him so that he can neither communicate with his own kind nor can he relate the injustices to others. This can be done either by physical restraint or by denying him his language; the latter is doubly effective as it also serves the purpose of demeaning him, lowering the threshold of his resistance and making him acquiescent to the increasing encroachments on his social, cultural, economic and political rights.

This task can either be accomplished subtly as the British did or by the brute force method which has been in vogue here; the brown sahibs held a different view of their own mission and its sanctity and brooked no dissent to what they thought was in the interests of the plebeians. They ordained that the language would be Urdu for all the subjects without any consideration for the languages people had been using for eons. The people of Bengal resisted this injustice which they saw as an attempt to muffle and muzzle them. They took to the streets, leading to the deaths of students. Later, that date, February 21, 1952, was designated as the World Mother Tongue Day by the UN. There was opposition to the move in varying degrees in other provinces as well, except in Punjab, but was either physically crushed or cowed into submission by employing religious and political pressures. They did succeed in suppressing the dissent but the seeds of disintegration and dissolution were sown.

This injustice continues and if anyone even dares to demand equal rights for the languages, he is condemned as anti-state and branded a traitor. Sindhi has been the prime casualty because it is here that the greatest demographic changes have taken place. It is still struggling to find its rightful place as are Pashto, Balochi, Brahui and Seraiki. The people need to communicate and study in their own languages if they are to be creative and productive but the rulers continue to deny them their right in the name of a vague concept of monolithic nationalism.

The denial of the right to use the name and identity of one’s nation also leads to loss of self-esteem because this denial leaves that nation searching for an identity, a situation which the subjugator utilizes to the fullest to enhance his influence over the victim and increase the shackles that bind him. The Pashtuns were denied a name and they came to be called people from the Frontier, demeaning them and their history. This was the handiwork of the British which the brown sahibs continued as they found it convenient. The ruling elite has stuck to its guns (they do have big calibre guns) on this issue and continue to deny the Pashtuns the right to be called by the name of the nation they belong to. It seems they will continue to be called ‘frontier kay log’ as long as they live or until they are swamped out of existence by the Kalabagh Dam. It is certainly surprising that the people of that region haven’t agitated and protested enough against this injustice.

The One Unit was not only an attempt to deprive Sindh, Balochistan, Pakhtunistan and Bengal of their political, economic and cultural rights but also of their historical names to disembody and demean their entire history and consequently their very existence, to force them to find their identity in something as artificial and meaningless as West Pakistan. It was a crude attempt at imposing monolithic nationalism.

The predatory corruption of brown sahibs is one of the most important factors behind the prevailing chaos and the abject poverty that we witness in the ever growing ghettoes in the cities in particular and the country in general. Their insatiable lust for wealth has relegated the majority to an existence below the poverty line. The provinces too like the majority of people have been relegated to an economic existence below the poverty line and have been bullied into submission under duress. This corruption and the unabashed arrogance of the dominant province and its utter disregard for the wishes of the people of minority provinces has led to the crystallization of resistance and the struggle for political and national rights that now threaten the health of the federation.

The brown sahibs have been more vindictive and venomous in implementing their ideals, values, morals, mores and policies because they believe they are implementing the will of Allah. It is this self-righteous attitude which has closed their minds to all reason and dialogue, leaving them only the option of brute force to make the ungrateful vulgar rustics understand the need for accepting their supremacy. This attitude has also hardened the attitudes of those at the receiving end and is leading towards a catastrophic collision.

(to be concluded)

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 21 March 2006 in The Post

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