The Baloch: in constant conflict with Pakistan — Part I

We are muslims but it is not necessary…we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan then Afghanistan and Iran…should also amalgamate with Pakistan (1)… Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo (1947)

This part tackles the Baloch national question through the lens of the ideology of Pakistan and the first 4 armed conflicts between the Baloch and Pakistan. The current uprising which intensified after Nawab Akbar Bugti’s assasination will be dealt with in the second part.

Pakistan fits in the category of a state without a nation. What makes a nation? There’s no such thing as Pakistani culture, language, music, jewellery, clothes, music, poetry et al. The country lacks all the attributes of a nation. Pakistan’s lack of national identity is best summed up by the words of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri; “in reality it’s (Pakistan) not even there” (2). Do the Baloch have sense of history to be the masters of their destiny? This is best answered by Akhtar Mengal’s father and Balochistan’s ex Chief Minister Sardar Ata Ullah Mengal👇👇👇…

Conflicting narratives

Pakistani nationalism rests on anti India hatred — especially for its Hindu majority — and, on the glorification of the Muslim invaders pillaging their way through India over 1000 years. In reference to the Hindu – Muslim divide Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah on 23rd March 1940 remarked, “very often the hero of one is a foe of the other (3).” Under closer scrutiny this line is more applicable to the Baloch – Pakistan relations than it were to the Hindus and Muslims in India. What do the Baloch think of Pakistani “heroes”? The Baloch and Balochistan book is a must read👇👇👇…

The Baloch nationalist Naseer Dashti (4 VL) — in the opening 8 chapters of the book — records all the resistence the Baloch tribesmen put up against nearly all the marauders the Pakistanis worship as saviours of Islam. From Muhammad Bin Qasim to the Mughals, the Baloch confronted most of them. They actually cherish their forefathers valour against the marauding hordes. In the eyes of the Baloch all Pakistani “heroes” are the enemies. The quote below is from a Baloch friend of this scribe👇👇👇…

The clashes with Persians, Arabs, Turks, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Afghans, Mughals, British and Pakistanis in the longer run reinforced the sense of belonging to the Baloch nationhood over the Islamist theocracy. This relatively less known history is often glossed over by the Pakistanis and mostly overlooked by the Indians following the Baloch movement.

During the foreign Muslim occupation of India, the country of the Baloch even in the worst of the times enjoyed autonomous status from the powers of days dominating India and Persia. The British control over Balochistan was not direct. Ata Ullah Mengal said “British were so behind the scene the common man couldn’t have noticed their presence”. The Baloch never participated in the Pakistan movement, they admired the Kalat State National Party’s anti colonial struggles instead of the polarization of the Muslim League. Ironically the political Baloch movement predates even the coinage of “Pakistan” (in 1933). Anjuman-i-Ittehad-i-Balochan-wa-Balochistan the first nationalist political party was established in 1930 (5). The early Baloch nationalists were educated in Indian institutions, they were inspired by Congress led anti colonial movement. Anjuman’s successor Kalat State National Party leadership were closely linked to the Indian National Congress not with the Muslim League in 1940s (6). If the world is to defy all the scholarly interpretations of a nation-state and agree to Pakistan’s distorted version of nationalism, the Baloch would still fail to fit in with the idea of Pakistan. The writing is on the wall. Pakistan’s own national narrative is antithesis to everything the Baloch nation stands for. Unlike the artificial entity created in 1947 the Baloch can refer to the 17th century state of Kalat as the historical basis of their claims.

Direct confrontation

Following the British departure Balochistan has remained in a continuous rebellion vis-a-vis Pakistani state. The Baloch rose five times against Pakistani occupiers since the forced annexation of 27th March 1948. The uprisings produced the heroes and martyrs for the cause. The names of Abdul Kareem, Nawab Nouroz Khan (7), Ata Ullah Mengal, Bizenjo, Nawab Marri, Asad Ullah Mengal, Sher Muhammad Marri (8) et al have become synonymous with the fast evolving liberation struggle. In the contemporary times Balach Marri, Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, Saba Dashtyari, Harbiar Marri, Brahumdagh Bugti, Aslam Baloch and Dr Allah Nazar Baloch (aka Dr Nazar) and many others taken over the mantle from the elder generation icons.

Saviours and tormentors

Pakistan’s tallest leaders and military dictators are despised to the core in Balochistan.

Abdul Kareem’s first war of independence in 1948 not only secured his position in the annals of Baloch history but also cemented Jinnah’s reputation as liar, backstabber and occupier (9). The double dealings of Jinnah were highlighted by this writer in Why Balochistan should not be equated with the Princely States (10). Two violent insurgencies (1958 and 1963) were triggered in Ayub Khan’s dictatorship; the legends of Nawab Nouroz Khan and guerilla commander Sher Muhammad Marri were the direct outcomes of the heavy-handedness of Pakistan’s first military dictator. Ayub Khan’s dictatorship also oversaw the founding of the politically motivated Baloch Students Organisation in 1967, best known as BSO, which set the stage for the future (11). Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto fares no better. Bhutto dismissed Balochistan’s elected local government in 1973 resulting in the 4th uprising that lasted 4 years and leaving thousands dead (12). In opposition to Bhutto the Baloch masses identified Nawab Marri and Sardar Ata Ullah Mengal the national heroes upholding the Baloch values. In the 1987 Channel 4 documentary Baluchistan: the gathering storm, the common tribesmen can be seen singing the ballads of the Baloch legends against Pakistani Army. Check in between 14-15 minutes and then at 41 minutes, with the English subtitles👇👇👇…

In the contemporary times Pervez Musharraf and his successors Ashfaq Kayani, Raheel Sharif and Qamar Javed Bajwa are the butchers of Balochistan and that’s exactly how they’re perceived by the people. No nation celebrates its butchers save Pakistanis. From 1948 the successive Pakistani rulers defined the Baloch mational heroes as turncoats and traitors. Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo is just one example of the many (13). The coward absconder Pervez Musharraf can be seen belittling Nawab Akbar Bugti’s character👇👇👇…

Contrasting memories

None of the national days of Pakistan are celebrated in Balochistan. 27th March (14) is observed as the day of occupation by the Baloch people. Balochistan’s independence date 11th August (15) differs from the 14th August celebrated by the Pakistanis, though Pakistan became independent on 15th August 1947. 6th September is annually observed as Defence Day by Pakistanis in ignorance of the imagined “victory” over India in the war of 1965. The Baloch Martyrs Day falls on 13th November (16) in remembrance of the fallen warriors went down fighting the British in 1839, including the Baloch ruler Mahrab Khan. Most of the Pakistanis are unaware who Mahrab Khan was. 26th August 2006 and 21st November 2007 (17) hold significance for the Baloch in tribute to the valour of Nawab Akbar Bugti and Balach Marri respectively. Both stalwarts gave the supreme sacrifice fighting Pakistan. The importance of 3 dates; 27th March 1948, 26th August 2006 and 21st November 2007 matters more because the adversary is none other than Pakistan itself. The artificial entities can not last forever. Nationhood can never be realised on the utopian ideas. The Baloch had set the ball rolling from 1948. Pathans and Muhajirs have joined the party. Sindhis are lurking in the shadows. Muhammad Ali Jinnah must be turning in his grave.

Blogged by Faisal Hussain.

Twitter Handle : @SAW21107

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