On February 4th, a day before Pakistan closes down ostentatiously for the rights of Kashmiris, Pakistani intelligence agencies’ personnel harassed the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Long Marchers with intimidation and questions. They didn’t stop at that they even harassed a Baloch family which stopped to greet the Marchers by asking them for their National Identity Cards (NIC) numbers, telephone numbers address and the purpose of greeting the Marchers. They also harassed their host at 7 Chak Raowan Wala for that night with questions and threats. They took their NIC numbers, telephone numbers and asked how they knew these Baloch. This place was arranged by Comrade Irfan Ali of Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), who has now joined the march. This nuclear power is so scared out of its wits at these handful but brave and defiant Baloch that it is harassing not only them but even who come into their proximity.
Talking about Kashmir and rights is convenient and it is really doubtful if it is the Kashmiris whose rights Pakistan is anxious about or is it establishment’s desire to ensure that it gets to exploit all of Kashmir for all it is worth. In the National Assembly session on the 3rd there was uproar when Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the leader of the government-allied Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, sounded a discordant note when he said that the internationally recognised right to self-determination should not mean only a choice between India and Pakistan but also a third course like an independent Kashmir. He added that neither those describing Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of Pakistan – nor those calling it an ‘atoot ang’, (integral part) of India were Kashmiris so it is for the Kashmiris to decide. But Maulana Fazlur Rehman came up with a lame plea that the plan for the partition of then British-ruled subcontinent at independence in 1947 and resolutions passed later by the UN Security Council following the first of the two India-Pakistan wars over Kashmir gave the people of the Himalayan state the only option of choosing to accede to either of the two countries. So they are unwilling to give right of self-determination to Kashmiris; those who occupy Balochistan and ravaged Bangla Desh cannot be expected to give justice to Kashmiris. For Pakistan the only Kashmir worth existence is the Kashmir under its rule.
I digressed, The march by redoubtable Mama Abdul Qadeer Baloch, Banuk Farzana Majeed and other brave Banuks and Warnas (young man) is indeed historic as no one before has walked so long and so far for a political cause in the sub-continent. The march is for the recovery of the missing Baloch, the Baloch killed after abduction and for a life of freedom and dignity for Baloch in their own land. This solemn and dignified protest has irked the Pakistani state to no end because this small band of Baloch has taken the battle to the home turf of establishment and state in a manner that no one had ever before. This defiance has made the establishment jittery and it has now resorted to threats and intimidation not only of the marchers but also of those who have the audacity to host these brave Baloch or even greet them.
Expecting anything else from Pakistan would sheer naivety because from 27th March 1948 onwards Pakistan has relentlessly pursued the policy of persecuting Baloch with intention of intimidating them to acquiesce to the spurious ‘national interest’ which has been bandied around since 1947. The Baloch do not identify with the Pakistani ‘national interest’ and Pakistani establishment is bent upon making them do just that. The interests are irreconcilable but because the legatees of the British colonialism had accepted the British national interest due to the more stick and a little carrot policy employed by Britain they believe that this will work with the Baloch too and although they have miserably failed so far yet persist with it. Albert Einstein defined insanity thus: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This exactly what Pakistani establishment has been at since forcibly annexing Balochistan. Call it insane, call it asinine, call it arrogance this is what it has been doing and continues to do and will continue with.
The recently imposed Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) simply reiterates the policy of suppression that has been working here de facto and will only make it de jure. In Pakistan the culture of impunity is deeply entrenched since its creation as the war against the Baloch, Bengali Sindhi and Pashtun people proves. The ravages against the Bengali people put the barbaric blood thirsty hordes of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali to shame but not a single person was persecuted. In Balochistan thousands have gone missing and more than a thousand killed after abduction, this number could jump after the discovery of mass graves in Khuzdar as there may be many more mass graves. The Supreme Court has had hundred plus hearings on the missing persons issue and all that has come out it is the hot air in a quantity which would have lifted even the biggest hot air balloon. The state and its institutions are hand in gloves in the crimes against humanity. The PPO will only help the pusillanimous institutions like the SC to use it as an excuse for their uselessness.
Expecting Pakistan to change its attitude towards Baloch even when it doesn’t hesitate to harass a small group of Baloch women and boys led by a septuagenarian is a dream only people like Dr. Malik and Co can dream about. But then it is not the Baloch welfare that they seek they seek their own welfare even if it comes at cost of dignity and self-respect. Then again anyone with an iota of self-respect or dignity would not become a tool for those who have persecuted the Baloch relentlessly and ruthlessly.
States too like people are incorrigible and the incorrigibility of Pakistani establishment and immutability of its policies and attitudes always remind me of a wonderful qatta of Sheikh Saadi; it goes thus:
Haich Saikal Nako Na Danad Kard
Aahanay Ra Kay Bad Gauhar Bashad
Choon Bood Asal Johari Qabil
Tarbiat Ra Dar o Asar Bashad
Sag Ba Darya i Haftgana Bashoi
Kay Cho Tar Shud Paleed Tar Bashad
Khar e Essa Garish Ba Mecca Barand
Choon Bi Aayad Hanoz Khar Bashad
The best whetstones will useless be
If the swords of pig iron sharpened be
Training and tempering serves only those
Honourable of soul and mind if they be
A dog bathed in seven seas isn’t a whit pure
For the wetter it gets the uncleaner it turns out to be
If Essa’s ass for a Makkan trip taken be
An ass it was and an ass it will always be.
It is absolutely certain that Pakistan will not change its policies and attitudes of relentless and ruthless persecution of Baloch but they should also not be in any doubt that Baloch too are steadfast in their commitment to their struggle. If anything which shows the unfaltering resolve, determination and iron-will of Baloch is the VBMP long march which in spite of overwhelming odds has set new benchmarks for those struggling for Baloch rights. This march like the fight by the Sarmachars in the mountains is expression of invincible Baloch resolve which is committed to fight till the very end and final victory. The iron-will of Baloch is unbendable and indestructible; neither the brave VBMP Marchers nor the ordinary Baloch are going to be cowed by the atrocities or harassment by Pakistan.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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