Comment : A Futile Rearguard Action Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

This ineffectual and futile rearguard action of putting up an apparently liberal and secular face in Balochistan is aimed at mollifying liberals and deceiving the Baloch people in general

The liberal circles in general, and pseudo-nationalists of Balochistan in particular, are ecstatic, too precipitously I’d say, over Nawaz Sharif’s decision to put Dr Abdul Malik in the saddle in Balochistan. The accolades and felicitations would have one believe that Mr Sharif’s ‘gift’ is a panacea for and a salve to all the injustices and atrocities perpetrated against the Baloch people and Balochistan for the last 65 years. Incidentally, this best choice of the establishment just is not good enough to help it stem the rising tide of demands for freedom.

This appointment, in fact, is a desperate rearguard action albeit an ineffectual and futile one by an increasingly desperate establishment trying to salvage whatever it can from a situation that has progressively gone beyond control in spite of its employment of the distressed mix of palliative and retributive measures exercised to neutralise the rightful rising Baloch resentment over the injustices perpetrated with impunity since March 27, 1948. Controlling the Baloch people’s justified resentment is a tall order for a toothless and politically bankrupt government whose deputy speaker Qudoos Bizenjo, rewarded for serving the establishment, won his legislature seat with 544 out of 57,656 total votes!

The Baloch people have certainly not shed blood for the past 65 years to make a Dr Malik the chief minister (CM) of Balochistan; they have struggled for their rights, which neither he nor any other politician is going to hand them at the behest of the establishment. Dr Malik’s installation is expressly for appeasing the liberal lobby’s sentiments and providing legitimacy to the establishment’s plans for allowing China – whose aims in Balochistan aren’t altruistic – its much needed ‘energy corridor’ with the Gwadar-Khunjerab-Kashgar rail and road network so that it has enough increased stakes in Pakistan to help sustain it as a small regional bully. Through him the establishment wants legitimisation of its repression of the people and exploitation of Balochistan’s resources.

Promises from every new government abound but the actions of every federation-installed government in Balochistan are subject to the army and Frontier Corps’ whims and agenda. Promises aside, will Dr Malik recover missing persons like Zakir Majeed, Bahar Khan, Ali Khan Marri, Asghar Bangulzai, Dr Deen Mohammad and Akbar Marri to name a few of the thousands missing? Will his government bring to book those responsible for the murders of Jalil Reiki, two brothers Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Nabi Marri and hundreds of others abducted, brutally tortured and then dumped because they resisted repression and exploitation? Will the assassins of Professor Saba Dashtiyari and other Baloch intellectuals and journalists be exposed, prosecuted and punished?

Will those responsible for the carnage against Hazaras and involved in their target killings ever be brought to justice? Will the relatives of those like Duleep Dass, Sher Ali Marri, Asadullah Mengal, Ahmed Shah, Shafi Mohammad Marri and others who went missing during the 1970s ever find closure to their sufferings? Will the ever continuing military operations, presently being conducted under the guise of the law and order situation in Mand, Isplinji, Turbat and other Baloch districts ever be halted? Will the internally displaced persons of Dera Bugti, Kohlu, etc, be allowed to return? Will the organised demographic changes in the name of development be reversed? Will the misuse of Balochistan for nuclear and missile tests be stopped? With aplomb in a TV talk show Dr Malik washed his hands of these issues and dumped the baby in the establishment’s lap, claiming that his duty is limited to stopping corruption and garnering support for the federation; in short obey the Centre unquestioningly.

This ineffectual and futile rearguard action of putting up an apparently liberal and secular face in Balochistan is aimed at mollifying liberals and deceiving the Baloch people in general. Cosmetic changes and face-lifts may mollify liberals but will certainly not help deceive people who have for 65 long years borne the brunt of the establishment’s atrocities and injustices. Soothing and healing such barbaric wounds is well-nigh impossible. Ironically, many of those who feel outraged and upset at the injustice of the bonded labour phenomenon conveniently prefer to overlook the injustices to the bonded nations. Selective outrage is destructive for any society that makes a habit out of it and here it is chronically endemic, which allows the establishment to repress all by turns.

Most people going gaga over Dr Malik’s appointment harp upon his middle-class origins as if middle-classes are paragons of virtue; Babar Ghauri too with his millions, some say billions, is a middle class representative. The role of the middle class here has been brilliantly and bluntly analysed by the only unbiased historian, Dr Mubark Ali, in his piece, “The lonely crowd” for a national daily on May 26, 2013. After discussing the rise and role of the middle class since 1947 he concludes: “However, the middle class has not yet learnt a lesson and still prefers to stick to old, rusty traditions and beliefs. Due to its opportunism and hypocrisy, there is no hope that it could play a radical and revolutionary role in transforming the state and society. It will continue to support corrupt institutions of the state, follow the path of conservatism and prevent any enlightenment and progress. In short the middle class is responsible for preserving backwardness and extremism in society.”

The National Party (NP) is touted as a nationalist, secular, liberal middle class organisation but well entrenched within it are people like Imam Bheel who has been branded as the lynchpin of the regional drug trade by the US government, whose May 2009 handout listed him in the Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers who were appropriate for sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. He is also accused of murdering Abdul Rahman Dashti, DCO Gwadar in March 2012. He and his son Yaqoob who won the 2008 election from NA-272 joined NP in 2010; this year Yaqoob lost in Balochistan Assembly PB-51. Matthew Green’s special report makes an interesting read. A party in which Imam Bheel is a respected figure does not cut much ice as a nationalist or liberal party.

The already unbridgeable credibility gap keeps widening as the establishment continues disappearing more Baloch and dumping their bodies; during the short caretaker period more than 50 bodies were discovered and hundreds were abducted. This is not going to end during the Mr Sharif-Dr Malik joint venture. Zaheer Baloch, son of Anwar Baloch, a member of the Baloch Republican Party, whose body was found in Hub on June 4, was abducted from Panjgur on April 24, along with Hafeez and Ateeq Baloch. Hafeez’s body was found next day, Ateeq is still missing. The body of Amanullah Mengal too, who was abducted on June 1, was found in Mangochar. A self-respecting Baloch would feel ashamed of collaborating in the deaths of other Baloch but here scruples are secondary while power and pelf are primary. It should be re-emphasised that the Sarmachars (insurgents) will neither talk to nor reduce their resistance to the exploitation and repression by Pakistan simply because Dr Malik is the CM. They no longer trust the establishment or those politically bankrupt entities that it installs in power to serve its needs.

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 protected]

Courtesy: Daily times

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