The spectre of the Baloch insurgency [1 of 3]

Our geography books introduce us to Balochistan as, the poorest province. A second idea is added to that: we are told the people are tribal and the population is little. However, it has rich resources which can aid Pakistan’s development, we are made to further absorb. 
This simple three line understanding of Balochistan constitutes the founding justification of what the Baloch consider as the Pakistani colonization of their land.
What is the correct understanding? How do we define Balochistan in 2013? A definition that may allow us to re-evaluate our relationship to the Baloch and perhaps save it: 
“Balochistan, is the province with the poorest people with the richest resource base.”

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ASKING THE QUESTION: WHAT HAS LED BALOCHISTAN TO THE BRINK?

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by Hashim bin Rashid

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More than a year ago, this write up appeared on the pages of  A Voice Amidst SilenceIts contents are, however, as valid today as they were then. This article which is spread over three pages, has slightly been moderated to render it relevant in concurrent circumstances.” [Nayyar]

***

The Baloch youth burn the national flag for money. They are targetted by state agencies for it. Rather the army must restore the confidence of those who burn the Pakistani flag.”

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– General Javed Zia
Former Head of the Southern Command, Pakistan Army
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Sardars, resources, development – are the three catch phrases anyone within the State uses for Balochistan.

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Punjabis, colonisation, rights – are the three catch phrases any Baloch would use.

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In the year 2005, began the fifth Baloch insurgency against Pakistan. Each insurgency, 1948, 1958, 1963, 1973 and now was blamed on India and foreign elements.

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Narratives of partition recall ‘Indian-funded Baloch anti-Pakistan elements had knocked at every door in Balochistan…before the army went in…and all the Baloch cheered and shouted ‘Pakistan zindabad.’

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Matters of course, were far more nuanced, far more stark for the Pakistani state then. The tables, however, slowly turned. And in so many ways, the terms of starker for the Baloch today.

Professor Saba Dashtiari, killed in the middle of the Quetta Cantonment, one of the few killings that resonated amongst the Punjabi middle class, would call the Baloch people to resist the colonial occupation of Balochistan.

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The question to ask, as a Punjabi, or a Pakistani, is: why?

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Why have the Baloch not accepted Pakistan? And, more importantly, why do we continue to view it through the lens of a colonizer?

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As children, our geography books introduce us to Balochistan as, the poorest province.

·

A second idea is added to that: we are told the people are tribal and the population is little. However, it has rich resources which can aid Pakistan’s development, we are made to further absorb.

·

This simple three line understanding of Balochistan constitutes the founding justification of what the Baloch consider as the Pakistani colonization of their land.

·

What is the correct understanding? How do we define Balochistan in 2013? A definition that may allow us to re-evaluate our relationship to the Baloch and perhaps save it:
“Balochistan, is the province with the poorest people with the richest resource base.”

·

Its mineral resources are vast. Its port potentials are vast. But their first right belongs to the people that inhabit it.

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A battle for resources remains the site of most indigenous struggles within the world, especially neighbouring India. But Balochistan is not as clear cut a clash of worldviews as it is a clash of egos.

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The Pakistani ego, trumped by its military, has cast a shadow over Balochistan, a shadow it is yet to escape from.

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The problem is that 2013 is not the 1970s. So India realizes with Kashmir. Voices from within have emerged, substantively Arundhati Roy, that have spoken of the injustices that have been committed within Kashmir by Indian security forces.

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And so does Pakistan need a moral conscience. There is a need to speak of the injustices done against the Baloch by Pakistani security forces. There is a need to speak; lest time be lost.

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This particular article does not, however, aim at becoming such a moral conscience. It just aims to discuss some of the injustices done and make some lay suggestions. Nothing substantive. This writer certainly does not possess the moral substance of Arundhati.

Contd…

 Next: The spectre of the Baloch insurgency Part II

Pages:  1   2   3

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