The atrocities against the Baloch or the ravages against the Bengalis, the recent burning of the Hindu Dharmshala in Larkana or the carnages against the Hazaras or Christians sadden me deeply as do all the brutal and senseless attacks on nationalities or minorities in the length and breadth of ‘Land of pure’. However these horrendous attacks have never surprised me; had there been peaceful coexistence between different nationalities or religious and sectarian harmony here it would surely surprised me because the basis of all that is wrong here is in the creation of this state on basis of religion.
Sheikh Saadi says,
Khist-e-Awal choon nahd Maymaar Kaj
Ta Suraiya mee rawad Dewaar Kaj.
If the wall’s first brick by the Mason is wrongly laid
To Heavens it taken be; tis’ll remain but wrongly laid.
When the power assuming elite, for its ulterior motives, of a colonized land imposes the blatant untruth that the religion is the bedrock of nationhood on the people with different history, culture and ethos inhabiting the land they are set to assume power in then we get the dreadful mess what we see today in Pakistan. The ruling elite tried to over-ride the existing historical and cultural ethos with a specious and spurious one based on religion alone which they thought would unite all by doing away with the old ethos. Blind to history they did not see that there were many Muslim countries but were separate nations or people and not united on religious basis. They committed the crime of fabricating (pun intended) a Muslim ethos.
Knowing that this falsehood would sooner or later be exposed and there would be a rise of national consciousness among the nations being steam-rolled into submission with the slogan of nationhood of Islam they understood they would have to invest into an army which would ensure compliance from those who dared to dissent. Tasneem Siddiqui in piece, “Elite consensus under strain” says, “India may not have been a good neighbour, but the hype of enmity and permanent hostility was deliberately created. As a result, the social sectors were relegated to the lowest priority and most of the resources were diverted to nonproductive uses. In our first budget, over 60 per cent of income was allocated to defence, and in Oct 1947 Mr Jinnah requested the US government to sanction a loan of three billion dollars to modernise the Pakistan army.” This indicates how desperate the new oligarchy was to ensure acquiescence and whenever Baloch dissented the army was sent in to quell it and when the previously very pro-Pakistan Bengalis much to their chagrin found out there was no place for them in this ‘land of pure’ they were subjected to genocidal military operations.
The new oligarchs also knew that without them making use of Islam as their ideology and ethos of choice there was very little chance of Baloch, Sindhi, Bengalis or Pashtuns accepting the English or Urdu speaking nominees of varied parts of India as their leaders. They knew that without perpetuating, promoting and projecting the untruth that they employed to ensure their dominance they wouldn’t have leg to stand on. Not only the politicians and bureaucrats forcefully promoted the untruth but also the army ensured that they instill that ethos in those joining the army. I wasn’t surprised when I read Irfan Husain Sahib’s piece, “Pakistan as a security state” in which he said, “Generations of young officers at the military academy at Kakul have been taught that India is the eternal enemy; and that civilians are a necessary evil who have to be endured, but never trusted. A part of this indoctrination is the notion that one Muslim soldier is equal to 10 Hindus.” All the institutions vied to become the leading ones in the establishment’s attempt to fabricate the ethos.
The ruling oligarchy which accidentally came into power also thought that they were the chosen ones and like the preceding colonists the British they too considered themselves superior and set out to assume the responsibility of civilizing the nations they thought were uncultured though these nations had rich cultures spanning thousands of years. It was under this false impression and illusion that they set out to impose their language and culture on all without a thought for their sentiments. This was a parody of the already discredited ‘White man’s burden’ and they still labor under this illusion.
The first thing they wanted to ensure was to break the opposition to their untruth and as Balochistan had opted for independence and got it under the August 11th 1947 Standstill agreement and had exposed their myth of nationhood of Islam; so they set about to make it fall in line. Therefore on 27th March 1948 after failing to persuade Mir Ahmad Yar Khan to accede to Pakistan the army was sent in and Kalat was over-run and the Khan made to sign the instrument of accession and thus began the yet unfinished story of repression and exploitation in Balochistan. It was not only occupation of land all efforts were made to change the ethos by different measures and by co-opting those Sardars, most of the Sardars in fact, to do the biddings of the Pakistani establishment.
They also considered the languages here as a threat to their dominance and set about to change that. Jinnah on his visit to Dhaka in March 1948 was received with great fervor. However on 21st March while addressing a huge rally at Race Course ground he unequivocally said “let me make it quite clear to you that Urdu and no other language will be the state language of Pakistan”. Not content with that he went on to warn the protagonists of Bengali language by saying that “anyone who tries to mislead you is really the enemy of Pakistan. Without one state language, no nation can remain tied up solidly together and function. Therefore, so far as the state language is concerned, Pakistan’s shall be Urdu.” He warned the people not to fall into the trap of the enemies of Pakistan. He went on to declare that Pakistan would not tolerate the enemies, the fifth columnists and the quislings, and if they continued to do what they seemed to be doing then the Pakistan government will take stern measures against them. Stern measures they did take on 21 February, 1952 peaceful protesters in Dhaka University were fired upon and numerous students were killed and die was cast.
The final nail in the coffin of the hope that the new country would be democratic and people friendly was the Objectives Resolution which was passed on March 12, 1949 and was specifically designed for reorganising the internal relations between the citizens and state and to give the country its ideological bearings. Attempts to annihilate the old ethos were made straight away, as is proved by Jinnah’s insistence on Urdu as the national language, even for Bengalis, and Balochistan being overrun militarily, a clear message to all was to conform or face the consequences. The Objectives Resolution was aimed at creating a new ethos for the newly acquired citizens, an ethos or flavour, which would supersede the centuries-old ethos that permeated their lives and psyches. It was an attempt to superimpose religion over nationalism to create loyalty for the new state. It was a device for ‘ethos cleansing’, which is but another form of ‘ethnic cleansing’. It was a coercive instrument with the benign face of Islam crafted for compelling opposition to change its ethos. ‘Ethos cleansers’ too employ force to modify the old ethos.
Those who have sown the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind and this is what is happening here. So whatever has happened in years since 14th August 1947 is not random but the consequence of the vile policy of the legatees of the British colonialism who just aimed to perpetuate their rule with no regard for the people they were given in inheritance by the British. The ‘strategic depth’, ‘strategic assets’, Jihadi groups, the good and the bad Taliban, the death squads, the atrocities against people, the groveling before super-powers and oil money, the absolute lack of self-esteem are all the crop of the seed sown even before the British agreed to make the Muslim politicians the master of all in the country they created to have a bunker against the then rising tide of communism.
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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