Who calls the shots here? – III

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

It is the corrupt and predatory ruling elite that calls the shots here and decides the fate of this country and, with it, of the teeming millions who have no say in how the affairs of state are run; they have to suffer for the self-serving policies of the elite. The elite has become so obsessed with its righteousness that it has clamped shut all doors of dialogue and considers force the only option in dealing with the people.

The policies of the intransigent elite have failed utterly, creating resentment and discontent, which now have become tangible and begun to be expressed in all manner and mode. The new monolithic nationalism as envisaged by the ruling elite has not only failed to take root, it has become a point of divergence for the different nationalities, simply because the wilful imposition of this nationalism is considered to be the source of their sufferings. People cannot be expected to throw out as excess baggage their cultures, histories and national sentiments for the new nationalism that has only succeeded in providing them with miseries.

Most political parties and personalities have played an active role in making the malicious policies a success here. The individuals and groups claiming to represent the people have more often than not slowly but surely persuaded the people to accept the injustices and iniquities as morally and legally justified acts in the name of the larger national interest. This, in fact, is nothing more than the interests of a select few, who in turn are an integral part of the ruling elite. Governments have also used political, spiritual and religious leaders to further their goals of annexation and colonization to give an appearance of compassion and altruism to their essentially vicious and vile ends.

The media could have played a role of supporting the political, economic, social, human and national rights but, unfortunately, due to external controls and at times self-interest, it has lagged. It is to the credit of some intrepid journalists and some papers and journals, who have risked everything to put forward the voices of dissent.

All the minority provinces have suffered at the hands of the ruling elite. East Pakistan suffered even though it was in a majority and eventually had to chart out its own destiny. The intransigence of the ruling elite in matters considered critical by the minority provinces has not only led to disenchantment and disillusionment with the federation, but also active resentment at the injustices and indignities meted out.

Sindh has had more than its fair share of these injustices and indignities. The influx of refugees from India not only changed its demography forever, but also laid the basis for detrimental changes in the economic and social, cultural and political fields for the original residents. The plans to go ahead with the building of Kalabagh and other dams in spite of a consistent and passionate opposition to such ventures shows how much regard for the wishes of the people of Sindh exists in the hearts of the ruling elite, which seems more concerned with providing water to Punjab and with the kickbacks and windfalls for themselves from these so-called mega projects.

Annexation and colonization has continued insidiously and surreptitiously and brought a lot of areas under their sway. Mostly it has been through inducements to those who can deliver, and use of force when this and other deceptive methods have failed. Balochistan, being sparsely populated and possessing unlimited resources, has invited all the efforts to exploit both its resources and large area. Unable to subdue the Baloch by any other means, the use of force under the cliché of the ‘writ of the state’ has been the preferred method of ‘persuasion’. Intransigence and a refusal to meet the just demands of the Baloch people have been the reasons behind the frequent and repeated conflagrations of varied intensity and duration in Balochistan.

The latest action there is being conducted with the express purpose of suppressing the people’s demand for the right to their resources and resistance to changing the demography of the province. Gwadar is being used for demographic changes and the Marri-Bugti area for resources. It seems that the people there will continue to resist all policies that they consider as detrimental to the larger interests of the Baloch and Balochistan unless an atmosphere of trust is built. The rulers should heed the widespread resistance that has emerged and give the Baloch their due share before the point of no return is passed. They should understand that the resistance is not the result of instigation of a few sardars. Mistaking the genuine discontent of the people as action promoted by foreign powers will prove to be a catastrophic mistake for the federation.

Injustices against those who dare to raise their voice in opposition, instead of reducing the tensions and solving problems, aggravates them and leads to increased resistance, which with time gels and eventually reaches the stage where it can only lead to the defeat of the repressive machinery. The present military action to subdue the so-called miscreants or fararis is simply the expression of the ruling elite’s desire to accumulate more wealth for itself at the expense of Balochistan. This action and the military campaign in Waziristan against alleged foreigners at the behest of the US, which intensify with the arrival and departure of US dignitaries here, strongly indicate that the present elite with its force-inspired mindset has outlived its usefulness and become a deadweight around the neck of the entire people.

The mayhem, the anarchy, the brazen corruption, the dominance of black money in the economy, the trampling of human rights, the criminal waste of public money, the ever-increasing perks and privileges for the rulers, the increasing sectarian disharmony, the emergence of pseudo-political dynasties, the absolute breakdown of the policing system, the criminalization of politics and the bureaucracy, the paralysis and ineptitude of the judiciary, the breakdown and decrepitude of the educational system, the utter disregard of national rights of the minority nationalities, in short the relentless degradation of norms, values, conventions, principles and ideals in every aspect of life and the consequent collapse of all institutions is the result of the sanctimonious self-righteousness and the festering corruption and venality that afflicts the self-appointed guardians of the elusive Pakistan ideology.

All through history, societies, countries and empires disintegrated as a result of intolerance and repression, which were bred and nourished by short-sighted ruling elites who equated their narrow personal interests with those of the state and readily embarked upon policies which sooner or later proved fatal for them and the unfortunate people under their rule.

The ruling elite with its warped mindset that has brought the country near the abyss of disintegration and anarchy needs to be changed quickly. The people need to wrest their destinies from these incompetent nincompoops to bring about reconciliation among the nations that inhabit these geographical boundaries, giving back to them their inherent and justified rights. It may already be too late, but the masses are known to have wrought miracles in history. Nothing is beyond them.


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 28 March 2006 in The Post

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