The Importance of being a Baloch

Balochistan was never given importance by the adjacent fertile and powerful kingdoms of India, Persia and Afghanistan in the past. They were happy to give this unproductive and nomadic land the status of a buffer zone, separating them with the deserts and gorges from each other.
And so, the people of Balochistan maintained their independence under the settled system of tribal traditions under their respective chiefs.
Unfortunately the succesive central governments in Islamabad have adopted the same step motherly treatment in Balochistan and thus estranged the Baloch population to an extent that many of the Baloch youth are now in revolt against the rulers occupying the throne in Islamabad.



by Sami Qureshi


Balochistan was never given importance by the adjacent fertile and powerful kingdoms of India, Persia and Afghanistan in the past. They were happy to give this unproductive and nomadic land the status of a buffer zone, separating them with the deserts and gorges from each other. And so, the people of Balochistan maintained their independence under the settled system of tribal traditions under their respective chiefs.

However, one aspect of the tribal system of Balochistan must be kept in mind, that it differs in many forms from the existing tribal systems of the Feudal Punjab, Sind and KPK province ( previously the NWFP ).

Balochistan’s political importance was first realized by the British colonial power when the advancement of the Russians lurked towards the south and the Afghans showed their favorable inclination towards them. The British, realizing the danger from the North, started fortification of Balochistan by building cantonments and extending Railway Lines from Karachi to the borders of Afghanistan. However, the British Empire did not interfere in the internal affairs of its Afghanistan.

All the sardars ( Tribal Chiefs ) remained in tact leading to the conglomeration of many tribal states of their own, till the Pakistan Army, during the reign of Ayub Khan started action to subdue all the states of Afghanistan and ordered to merge with the federation of Pakistan.

This incident was the beginning of the hegemonic attitude of hatred from both the sides. According to Baloch Sardars it was the breach of the agreement they had signed with the Quaid at the time of accession to Pakistan.There could be no other opinion that Islamabad, since then, followed the repressive policy in Balochistan in the name of Federation and solidarity of Pakistan.

It was converted into a ‘nascent’ colony to exploit its resources.

Over the previous few years, particularly during the period of the Army action in Bugti area, when one of the prominent leaders of Balochistan was gunned down in encounter, the volatile situation took another turn that could not be termed less than the start of a revolution or a civil war.

The deteriorating situation of law and order demanded immediate solution to calm it down for the security of the people and the country as a whole. It was the need of the time. But the political atmosphere was created by our leaders, civilian Government, military agencies and the media who twisted the facts during the last three years in such a way as if the Balochis were fighting for independence and cessation from Pakistan. Thus, the majority of the Pakistanis ( 90 percent ) remained in doldrums.

Now there exists some very genuine reasons of their antagonistic attitude towards the federation of Pakistan.

1) Resources of energy and valuable minerals of Balochistan were utilized cheaply by the other provinces while the Balochis were deprived of their own resources.

2) Balochistan was treated just like a colony of other provinces. Most of the vacancies in federal and provincial departments were filled by the non-Balochis.

3) It was open for all to get the domicile of Balochistan, vis-a-vis to apply for entering the highest posts of civil services. There were hundreds of non-Balochi officers in civil, military and judiciary cadres enjoying the benefits with poor qualifications and backgrounds by obtaining the Balochistan domicile through many loopholes created for the purpose.

They knew it well that they could not be selected if applied from their own provinces’ quota. Balochi youth were, thus, deprived of their basic rights since the day Balochistan joined the federation of Pakistan.

4) Since Balochistan comprised of a heterogenous population, it was easy for the political leaders and the rulers of Islamabad to exploit them in the name of their race, language, ethnic identity, religious sect, tribal honors and their internal tribal feuds.

5) The people of Pakistan know a little about the Balochi people, their culture and history. The fate of Balochistan is, therefore, decided by the elites of Islamabad and Lahore in their drawing rooms.

Its just like the situation in East Bengal when the Awami League presented it’s 6-Points demands to settle the differences with the ruling elites of Islamabad, while at the same time, Islamabad was preparing to invade The Eastern wing of Pakistan i.e to hit their own heads to blow out and bleed for ever.

Let’s see how the political objectives of the parties, even in the present times, playing to meet their own end can be suicidal to the very foundation of Pakistan.

a) Balochistan is situated in a highly strategic location where the interests of the great powers are lingering on under the present circumstances. The center of future resources of energy, precious metals and minerals are supposed to be existing in the Central Asian states and Afghanistan. America in the garb of the savior of democracy and the guarantor of the sovereignty of the weaker states, has already established its web of communications by keeping its air-power and cyber-intelligent satellite system to control the region.

b) Balochistan was the main land of the supply route for the American Army during the Russian intervention and was also helpful at the time of invasion on Afghanistan after 9/11. Militarily, the coast of Balochistan is very important for America.

c ) As mentioned, the sea coast leading to the warm waters in the south of Afghanistan is linked to Balochistan. This coast could be the life-line for Central Asia and the adjacent areas as well. The Russians aspired to control this coast throughout history, but failed. Russians, even now, would like to enhance their influence in Balochistan.

Mysterious movements of some great powers on the world’s diplomatic arena, particularly related to this area, can conveniently be observed from the posts in Balochistan.

1) America’s combat units are likely to withdraw next year from Afghanistan. But it’s presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot be ruled out even beyond 2014.

2) India has the blessings of USA in rebuilding projects in Afghanistan and also to share its political role in the Central Asian States.

3) China and Russia are near to develop close relationships, socially and militarily, despite their ideological and some minor boundaries’ differences.

4) Iran and the Arab World are lurking from one side to the other, yet to amass equilibrium in relations with their resources and capabilities to produce latest equipments of warfare. Balochistan is going to be the epicenter for the prosperity and solidarity of not only Pakistan but Iran and the Middle East countries as well.

5) Israel’s possible interference in Iran is another danger hanging on the horizon of this region. Thus, bundles of jigsaws are gathering moths around Balochistan in which the great powers, one or the other way, are involved and hectic diplomatic actions are expected to be taken in near future.

6) Pakistan is supposed to play an important and cautious role in this game to protect its interests. It does not seem that the matter was ever considered seriously by any one in Pakistan.

At the moment KPK, Balochistan and Sind are in chaos, and the law and order situation is out of control. The responsibility of discontentment in KPK, Sind and Balochistan very much lies on the shoulders of Pakistan Army. Perhaps they don’t like it’s immediate solution for the reasons better known to them.

If Zardari’s slow political moves are minutely calculated then, somehow, some positive signs of slow transformations on the diplomatic arena could be seen. Apparently, a bifurcating line between the armed forces and democratic government is visible. Judiciary is also playing its cards very candidly but the real masters of Pakistan, i,e. masses are under the Troika crushing stones.

Also, recently, a new development emerged on the political arena when Akhtar Mengal, one of the prominent leaders of Balochistan came from self exile and presented a 6-points Agenda to the Supreme Court of Pakistan for permanent solution of the existing crisis in Balochistan. His views were clear. The problems of Balochistan are related to its people and their mother land.

Why then the leaders of other provinces are taking decision in respect of the future of Balochistan ? It is for the Baloch people to decide their own future. This case is now pending in the Supreme Court for decision.

Since a good number of youths have taken refuge in mountains with well-equipped modern arms and ammunitions to fight for the liberation of Balochistan.

They seem to be preparing for a civil war. 

The question of Balochistan is not as simple as our leaders and bureaucrats think about. The crisis is now turning into an international subject where diplomatically strong powers are vying at it with greedy eyes. Are we prepared to meet this challenge?

 Sami Qureshi is the author of ‘History on Trial’, ex-deputy controller Radio Pakistan and a renowned artist.
Source,   Title image
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