What do the Baloch want?

By Manzoor Chandio
Written in 2006

“I WILL muster all I can – tanks, artillery and machine-guns – to kill all the traitors and, if necessary, raze Dhaka to the ground. There will be no one to rule; there will be nothing to rule”, said GOC Maj-Gen Khadim Hussain Raja during the East Pakistan crisis.
No one was surprised at the statement of another military man, Gen Musharraf, while talking about the Balochistan crisis.
In an interview to a private television, he said that “don’t push us ... it is not the 1970s when you could hit and run to hide in the mountains, and this time you won’t even know what has hit you.” He is true to his words. We still don’t know what hit Baloch leader Akbar Khan Bugti and his associates in the Kohlu mountains.
But what we are seeing is that the killing of Baloch nationalist leader in a merciless action has led to the flare-up of the nationalist movement in the mountains of Balochistan.
The Baloch have unified against the action and brought the province to a standstill for days.
Bugti’s killing has given a new lease of life to the Baloch and Sindhis to struggle for nationalist rights.
The Musharraf government was supposed to capture Osama bin Ladin and end Jihadi ideology from the country.
But it is strange to see that the government has liquidated many nationalist leaders in Sindh and Balochistan, while many others have been missing.On the other hand, it has unleashed propaganda to malign nationalist leaders and parties that they were not Pakistanis.
A number of articles and letters carrying a litany of prevarications about the Baloch continue to appear in the national press. Some writers have painted a terrible picture of the Baloch.
They have portrayed them as “recalcitrant tribals”, “backward” and “primitive” opponents of modernization.
They do not condemn the system of manipulation under which the Baloch have been deprived of their rights.
An impression is also being given that the Baloch sardars and tumandars see their downfall in mega development projects and for that reason they are involved in “blackmailing”.
In fact, the tumandari system will be strengthened after completion of the projects because the pattern under which they have been initiated will not empower the Baloch. If the government really wants tumandari to end, it must empower the Baloch.
There would be no need of sending the army and establishing any cantonments — the Baloch themselves would defeat the tumandars.

The feudal system can only be ended when more and more people stop depending on feudal lords.
The only difference between the Baloch tumandars and the English lords is that the latter did not interfere in the lives of their people while the tumandars hold sway over individuals.

A country in which there is no respect for the Constitution and no system of merit and justice, a country where there is “controlled democracy” and engineered political alliances like that of the IJI, the Baloch would remain under the influence of tumandars for centuries.
In the media the term “tribe” for the deprived people and “backward” for the neglected areas can harm the process of progress.
The state has always shied away from the daunting realities of poverty, unemployment and powerlessness and called the province backward. The use of the word adds an extra weight to the wrongs of successive governments which had perpetuated lopsided development.
If there had been balanced disbursement of resources with input in the shape of infrastructure, the neglected areas would have been at par with the developed ones.The most sensitive issue with regard to the Balochistan issue is that of demographic change. Balochistan’s population today is only 7.56 million (out of the country’s 151.1 million).
The government plans generation of two million jobs after the commissioning of Gwadar port. The subsequent industrialization will definitely invite more and more people from other provinces. If an unchecked influx continues, the Baloch would be converted into a minority in a few decades.
If the situation does not improve, the Baloch tumandars would be directly dealing with international consortiums and conglomerates to sell their silver, copper and gas.
Employ locals in the Sui, Saindak and Gwadar projects, and see the change take place — like the one in Britain after the Industrial Revolution.

For this, the management of all the existing and ongoing mega projects should be handed over to the Balochistan government. Only after jobs have been given to unemployed locals, as is being done in the industrial cities of Gujrat, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Wazirabad, Lahore and Sialkot, should people from the other provinces be employed.
Nationalists in this country are criticizing Punjab for many of their woes. They say revenue collected from Sindh’s seaport, the Seraiki belt’s cotton, Balochistan’s gas and the NWFP’s hydro-electricity is being spent on areas other than theirs. Federalists say its Lahore versus Larkana.
Whatever be the political slogans, it is clear that the resources of the smaller provinces are being taken away and spent outside their areas. Jobs are given to other than the residents of these areas.Natural gas to the tune of billions of rupees is being extracted daily from Balochistan but almost all people given jobs from exploration to tapping, from distribution to commercialization, are non-Baloch.
The gas is supplied to Punjab and Sindh cities for domestic and industrial use. Billions of rupees are earned daily from it which directly go to Islamabad and then are mainly spent on the development of one province.
The story does not end here. Thousands of industries in Karachi and other big cities are being run on gas from Balochistan. Several thousand workers associated with these industries are from other provinces. And thus the Baloch are poor.
It would be better the government should end this prejudice and end the Balochistan operation. The government should set free all nationalist leaders and workers.
What do the Baloch want is that they should be allowed to control their own resources and rule their province.


1 comment:

Bahad Baloch said...

Dear Sir Manzoor chandio,
Thanks for ur nice article 'What do the Baloch want? .
Here i want to clear that the problem of Baloch people is not provincial autonomy or share in natural resources of Balochistan and constitutional rights in the framework of Pakistan.
Present struggle and ongoing struggle is liberation movement against the state slavery on Baloch land.
So its a humble request to Our Sindhi brothers please paint the true picture of Baloch struggle .

Bahad Baloch