A few days back Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal threatened that legislators of his party will resign from assemblies if dumping of mutilated bodies of Baloch youth continues. The establishment must surely be quaking in its boots worried to death at the dire consequences of unprecedented turmoil in Balochistan if he in fact carries out his threat. One wonders what he means by if the dumping of mutilated bodies continues and also what his and his party’s tolerance threshold for such crimes against humanity is. Since 2008 more than a thousand Baloch activists have been kidnapped, killed and dumped how many more have to die before the BNP-M really gets angry. Weren’t the mass graves found in Tutak and military operation in Kalat too enough of a reason to make their stand on rights of Baloch but it seems their pain threshold level is very high. His threats are starting to sound more like those of Dr. Malik and company when they constantly repeated that they would quit government if they were ineffective. Albert Camus rightly said, “Those who lack courage will always find a philosophy to justify it”.
The argument of working within the system and complying with establishment’s will to achieve something is forwarded and the futility of confrontation highlighted. This policy surely hasn’t helped even a little in the past 66 years. When the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan Package (AHBP) was launched with promises to change everything those working for the system had termed it the panacea for all that was wrong with Balochistan. All euphoria about AHBP must have evaporated by now because this March Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declined the Balochistan government’s request to fill around four thousand posts promised under the AHBP and informed the provincial chief minister that there is a ‘ban on all recruitments’.
I mentioned this disallowing of even the jobs that they had promised not because I feel that Baloch struggle for jobs but to show that all the promises that the Pakistani establishment makes are simply to hoodwink people into believing that Manna is about to fall from the sky and all they have to do is to be obsequious and accept the crumbs that fall from the table. It always has been promises and these have kept hopes of some alive enough to agree to keep serving the establishment.
There is an anecdote in Balochi that a jackal saw a camel for the first time and when the camel trots the lower lip wobbles as if it is about to fall down. He thought that this juicy lip will sooner or later fall and he kept following the camel the whole day; as it is the camel’s lip never falls and the jackal had to go hungry that day. The Pakistani establishment’s promises are also the camel’s lip which never falls but many keep following in the hope that it will one day. There is another angle to this story which is not in the original story. Those who convince people that the lip will fall and they should keep following the camel (Pakistani establishment) rather than try to bring it down are quite handsomely rewarded by the camel for the services rendered. These people get full support of the media too honoring them with adjectives which sound hollow even to those praised.
In September 2012 Akhtar Mengal had presented himself before the Supreme Court (SC) and presented his six points which I repeat here to make things more clear. These were:
1. All covert and overt military operations against the Baloch should immediately be suspended.
2. All missing persons should be procured before a court of law.
3. All proxy death squads operating under the supervision of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) should be disbanded.
4. Baloch political parties should be allowed to function and resume their political activities without any interference from intelligence agencies.
5. Persons responsible for inhuman torture, killing and dumping of dead bodies of the Baloch political leaders and activists should be brought to justice.
6. Measures should be taken for the rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch living in appalling condition.
He had warned that in case these preconditions were not met, the worst was already around the corner. None of these conditions have been met and in fact things have gone from bad to worse but he still keeps hoping that the lip will fall. He doesn’t understand that all institutions ensure that sensitive toes aren’t stepped upon though the judiciary tries to show that it is independent but its actions always expose the hollowness of its stance. The issue of Baloch missing, abducted, killed and mass graves victims is the prime example of that hollowness. During the recent SC hearing where it was decided to try two army men, charged after around 110 hearings, by the army the judges were more enthusiastically giving excuses for it than Irfan Qadir the Frontier Corps (FC) counsel.
Moreover the judges in answer to apprehensions on behalf of the relatives by Nasarullah Baloch the Chairman of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) that a military trial of the two army officers would be inaccessible to them said, “The Supreme Court still has the jurisdiction because the appeal against the final order will come to it.” Excuses and justifications in favour were aplenty but not a word about the travesty of justice. The higher judiciary has now come up with a new tactic to obstruct justice to Baloch. The SC no longer accepts Zakir Majeed Baloch younger brother of Heroic Farzana Majeed as a missing person because the Balochistan High Court had in its warped wisdom declared him as an absconder. With this as a precedent the courts can declare all missing persons as absconders and thereby with one sweep absolve the establishment and army of their crimes.
In the missing persons context it would be a great injustice if the great contribution of the VBMP Long March and its Heroic Marchers isn’t mentioned. They with their unflagging resolve and ability to face whatever odds were thrown up against them galvanized public opinion and brought the matter to fore in way no one could. The insensitive Pakistani establishment wasn’t ever expected to respond favorably to the their own crimes but sadly even people like Akhtar Mengal did not learn anything and still keep expecting from the very same establishment which is responsible for crimes against humanity in Balochistan.
The mass graves issue too didn’t prompt Akhtar Mengal to quit the assemblies and neither did the Kalat operation nor did the 1000 plus kidnapped and killed Baloch as he too keeps on expecting that the camel’s lip will fall. Sadly he doesn’t realize that his ill founded expectations of justice and rights being delivered by the Pakistani establishment confound the people and make them submissive and prone to seeking charity rather than depending on their own strength and securing their rights.
But sadly it is not only what Akhtar Mengal is doing confounds the people because they, the people, are equally or even more confounded by the disunity displayed by those in responsible positions in the resistance. The people are also left stunned by the claims of resistance groups for hitting soft targets who have nothing to do with injustices in Balochistan. They will have put their act right before people start to earnestly question the attitudes and policies of Akhtar Mengal. For if they do not start to reassess and rethink their policies and attitudes at this critical juncture they may not need an enemy to undo all the great sacrifices given so far. In the end I appeal to all Baloch to unite for the dream they have dreamt for so long for unless we unite it will always remain just that - a dream.
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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