Picture: The author with the son of Raza Jahangir. Raza Jahangir was killed by the Pakistani army on 14th Auguest 2013 and this father Bahktiyar was killed on 28th Auguest 2014.
On 28th August 2014 around dawn a relative of my friend Sahib Jan Marri received a call from Sakrand police who told him that they had discovered three bodies near Pai Forest and in the pocket of one of them was the number they dialed. Sahib Jan’s family knew the worst had happened as the day before he had gone missing from Matiyari town where he had gone to buy essentials for the family which lives some distance away. When they reached there they saw Sahib Jan’s body he had been shot point blank once in face as had been the other two who were Bugtis. One of the Bugti Sher Dil aka Jarro s/o Dur Mohammad had been abducted on 18th June 2014 while the other Sabzal Bugti had been abducted the same day as Sahib Jan. Jarro was 22, Sabzal 20 and Sahib Jan 45 years old. The police said their bodies were thrown from a Mazda truk near Magsi stop. The relatives of Sahib Jan blocked the road in protest as police refused to register an FIR which they later reluctantly registered against unknown persons.
Later that day senior journalist and Secretary General of Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) Irshad Mastoi, trainee reporter Abdul Rasul and a news agency accountant were gunned down in Quetta. Leave alone prosecution no one has even been charged for murder of journalists in Balochistan or for that matter anywhere here because those who target the journalists lay beyond the pale of law. Little wonder that in 2011 the International Press Institute had placed Pakistan as the fourth dangerous place for journalists. A workshop on ‘Media and Civil Society in Balochistan’ on July 8th 2012 in Quetta had disclosed that 22 journalists had been killed in Balochistan since 2008. Incidentally there Irshad Mastoi had said: “All resistance movements approach us for coverage and political parties and some institutions consider the media as a resistance group.” He had also accused political leaders of forcing reporters to cover their ‘press releases’. One can imagine what fate awaits conscientious journalists if certain institutions and their puppet political parties consider media as a ‘resistance group’ because instead of publishing ISPR releases they present reality as it is. Irshad Mastoi’s murder is outcome of just such mind-set.
In late evening that day there was an fatal armed attack on Zikris in Teertej who were worshipping in their ZikrKhana near Mashi seven persons were martyred and among them were Bahktiyar, father of Raza Jehangir Secretary General of Baloch Students Organization-Azad (BSO-Azad) who was killed on August 14th last year by Pakistan army, and thirteen year old Niyaz Baloch. It wouldn’t out of place to mention that a month back a bus carrying Zikris was targeted by religious militants in Khuzdar and seven persons were injured. It should be remembered that the militant outfits were facilitated by the army in Awaran area after the devastating 7.6 earthquake of September 2013. It was only after the earthquake that army moved in and brought in religious groups in its tow to counter Baloch nationalism with religion. Balochistan’s tolerant secular landscape is being transformed into a grotesquely intolerant and sectarian battlefield by the establishment.
The powers that be have for the time being put Hazara genocide on hold and are targeting Zikris to irreparably split the Baloch society to undermine the struggle for rights. The burning of school in Panjgur also fits in the larger scheme of things and is aimed at depriving Baloch of education. This August the Baloch have suffered heavily as 38 have been killed, some 20 wounded, a hundred plus abducted and all these apart from the dozens claimed by army as killed in skirmishes.
The happenings of 28th August are a wake-up call. The readers will wonder why I have said that 28th August is a wake-up call; the reason I called it such is that all three incidents were neither random nor unrelated. These are a part of a systematically organized brutal attempt by Pakistan and its institutions to undermine the Baloch struggle for their rights and resources. The abductions and killing of Sahib Jan Marri and others are continuation of the abhorrent abduct, kill and dump policy aimed at depleting ranks of Baloch activists and intimidating others to refrain from supporting Baloch rights. The killing of Irshad Mastoi is to ensure silencing those who dare to expose the injustices and atrocities in Balochistan. The attack on Zikris in Awaran and elsewhere is to inject the cancer of intolerance and bigotry into a historically secular Baloch society; to change the political ethos by corrupting the social ethos.
Now who is this wake-up call for? Naturally I am not including the likes of Dr. Malik and Co in this because they are there to adorn the army held sports and cultural shows and legitimize the illegal plunder of Baloch resources and brutal repression of Baloch under the charade of development and maintaining law and order. They have nothing to do with Baloch rights or sorrows which is amply proved by their Tutak Commission Report exonerating all and sundry of blame as if the bodies had rained on Tutak in a freak storm; this also proves that there will be no justice for Baloch ever from those who are there just to serve Pakistani interests. Their hands like those of the collaborators before them are tainted with Baloch blood and cannot be expected to respond to anguish of Baloch.
This wake-up call is for all Baloch in general but is in particular for those leading the Baloch resistance for Baloch rights and resources. As long as Nawab Khair Bakhsh Khan Marri was alive he with his overpowering stature had a sobering effect on the minds and action of those struggling for Baloch rights. With his departure a vacuum has emerged with no single leader of his stature among us so this vacuum can only be filled by a larger united front of Baloch but that will demand sacrifices and wisdom and I hope that the present leadership of Baloch struggle will be upto the occasion.
The onus is on them to counter the nefarious designs of the establishment’s attempts to drive wedges into Baloch society, silence the voices that uphold the truth and deter those who struggle for rights. The leaders have a responsibility to come up with a coherent strategy to counter all this and this will only come about when they understand the seriousness of the situation and shun their differences to join hands. The differences and disunity among the leaders is confounding people and activists are giving up in despondency and frustration. Dedicated activists disheartened by disunity are withdrawing into themselves while some are forming factions as if there weren’t enough. To them I say the struggle is much much larger than individuals and they should persist with the honorable journey they began.
If the leaders want to become more than a footnote and 'had fought' in Balochistan history they'll have to change their ways and chance them soon. Only those who love themsleves and their self-interest more than Balochistan will find it hard to unite. Egos and differences need to be put aside. All organizations have a responsibility towards Baloch people to serve the people and motherland selflessly and if they fail in their task of serving and leading the people history will not forgive them.
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 email@example.com