There are mistakes that we are aware of and there are mistakes that we make unconsciously.
Enduring Unity and its Prerequisites
By Shahswar K
One word that most frequently can be heard in all liberation movements is the concept of ‘unity.’ Undoubtedly unity is a decisive leaver. The more united the oppressed people become the shorter will be the distance to their victory. Unity, with a clear purpose, acts as a catalyst that accelerates the pace of the movement to reach its ultimate destination. The Balochistan liberation movement is not an exception in this regard. The vast majority of Baloch these days talk about Baloch unity. More specifically, it is the talk of the day among those who are in favour of Baloch democratic rights. The question is if we are all for unity and we are conscious of the critical role that unity can play in our emancipation endeavour, what is it that prevents us from being united? Here, I will offer a few preliminary thoughts for further debate and discussion, so that we prevail over this impasse.
To begin with one needs to realise the fact that a liberation movement is a process. Moreover, freedom movements are not linear processes. All liberation movements have their unexpected ups and downs. To keep the momentum of the Baloch liberation movement depends on us. There is a close correlation between our mistakes and miscalculations and the ascendance towards our freedom. Any mistake we make colonial states will take advantage of and will push us a step backward. As a result of which we will all suffer setbacks and many more of our brave young people will be disappeared, tortured and killed.
The point is we can extend the period of our subjugation and suffering with such mistakes. There are mistakes that we are aware of and there are mistakes that we make unconsciously. Either way occupying states take advantage of our mistakes and hit all of us regardless of the source of those mistakes. Can we make mistakes? Of course, we can and do. Realization of this point is very important. We simply do not know everything. The biggest error is the claim to infallibility. Getting things wrong time to time is a core component of any democratic process. But the challenge is when we make mistakes we can either learn from our mistakes or add to the mistakes we have already made. Learning from our experience simply means learning from our mistakes. As long as these mistakes occur out of not knowing any better at the time and if the acts are made in error but with good intention then we should be forgiven for our misunderstandings. Provided that we have caused a blunder and not committed a crime. This is because we are all vulnerable to the occasional misjudgement. The problem is when we repeat the same mistakes over and over again and then take sanctuary in our accumulated mistakes. At this juncture we turn our errors into virtue and hence descend to irrationalism. The cost of some irrational acts, as we all know, can be very heavy.
Another issue worthy of consideration is that if the mistake is premeditated, with the intention of causing harm, this should be classified as a crime. For example, killing or hurting innocent people, under whatever pretext it maybe, is a crime. This is not a mistake. Forceful occupation of a nation and depriving the people of that nation of their natural democratic rights, exploiting their resources and coercing them to live under subjugation, is a crime. If our acts fall under such categories, even if the act is undertaken with good intention, would not alter the nature of the act. Benevolent tyranny, dictatorship and subjugation are mere illusions. No civilized society would tolerate such acts otherwise there would not be much difference between the colonial theocratic states of Pakistan and Iran and democratic states. What we want and have been struggling for so long has been for a civilised and free Balochistan, where the people of Balochistan live without fear and hunger.
For how long should we endure such mass killings and the destruction of our nation? For how long can we bear to see the mutilated bodies of our children, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and grandparents? How many more of enforced disappeared Baloch is a sufficient number for us to understand the gravity of the situation? How many millions of our people need to suffer from acute hunger, starvation and disease to know that this is not their fate? If we begin our stance with such questions rather than from ideological, political and religious persuasion then we will see matters in Balochistan in a different light. Sectarian party politics or venomous theocratic doctrines will not take us beyond what goes on within the Frankenstein colonial theocratic states of Pakistan and Iran.
Balochistan will remain the occupying states’ slaughter house if we allow it. Baloch are now killed on a daily basis, accused of being against God; Islam, communist, liberals, nationalist, smugglers and so on. Is it now time we stood up and said enough is enough. In whatever pretext they kill our people, it is wrong. Those who are responsible for such crimes must be revealed to the world. Nobody will do this for us. We are different parts of the same body, regardless of our political, ideological and religious differences. We can bring change for the better, if we could unify our efforts. Abduction, disappearance, torture and killing of any of our people must hurt all of us. The occupying states have no right to treat our people the way they do. We all understand that. This is our single target? Is it not obvious who are our one and the only determining target is?
I can with a certain degree of confidence state that our people know the main target better than we do. By ‘we’ in this context I mean most of the Baloch political leaders, political parties and intellectuals. Our people are ready to be united and have been for some decades but we are not ready. They are ahead of us and they are the ones who are on the ground and bear the brunt of colonial rage. Our people are calling for direction, to go forward and for a better future. Their daily experiences, of living under occupation, have taught them that without unity we cannot get to our destiny easily. We are responsible for their call and must act without much hesitation.
One thing is crystal clear. The future belongs to freedom. The future prospect of the artificial colonial states of Iran and Pakistan is incurably grim. They are living dead entities that will vanish without any impending democratic tide. Punjabi Muslim and the Persian colonial authority are dwindling day by day. Their heyday has gone and will never come back. The extent to which they apply state cruelty against those who call for democracy, human rights and the rule of law is not the sign of their great power and authority but their untreatable weakness. It means they are unhinged and are getting more unstable by every passing day. These states have no exits to escape their lethal disease. Only two options are on the way. Either way they will collapse. Tyranny is what they have always used but it is counter-productive. Tyranny nowadays will not last long. The other option is democracy but that means no colonial geopolitical structure. Colonialism and democracy are two poles apart. Democracy and colonialism are incompatible. To believe otherwise is an ignorance of the highest degree.
On this account if future is on our side and our people are ready to be liberated then what are the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward to achieve our ultimate goal. This is where the issue of unity becomes a vital factor in our liberation movement. The unity required for the present movement cannot and should not be the same as the ones our earlier leaders have tried to achieve. To think and act in the same way would be an unforgivable error. The scope and scale of the Balochistan liberation movement is now truly national. It has spread all over Balochistan and it is still spreading at an increasing pace. In the past all unities revolved on personalities and they were localised. These attempts were very important contributions that must be taken on board and we should learn from their success and failures. But these attempts cannot be the answer to our time as they have proved to be very fragile and transitory. A unity that relies on personalities or tribal associations or religious affiliations is not a unity but instead a recipe for future disasters. They are tied on baseless ground and will break at the first hurdle and with it will go all the work done for the liberation movement to-date.
The only enduring unity that can last for decades and centuries is one that stems from a contract that is impersonal and has clear and applicable objectives. A workable, legal, political, social and economic contract for Baloch and Balochistan is the one that recognises the rights and limitations of all individuals living in Balochistan. Such a contract is something impersonal. It is not for one individual or group. It belongs to all of us. Unity on such a contract can be enduring and any nation that has managed to come up with a similar contract has succeeded in their attempt to establish a stable and prosperous democratic society. The contract will be separate from any individual and will have the legal entity of its own. It is detached from each of us, while each of us is part of it. The presence or absence of us makes no difference to its validity. The contract will still operate as the common arbiter of unity. This is how we can establish a mature and enduring unity and can lead our people to ultimately achieve our rights and create an open and transparent society, where people live with dignity.
The most important prerequisite, that is pivotal in getting to this level of understanding, is when we discern that we are not less able in achieving such a noble goal. We are capable as much as anyone else to free ourselves from the bondage of colonialism and establish a developed and democratic Balochistan and compete with the best of the best in the world. Living under dictatorship and misery is not our eternal fate. We can change our fate but it only can be done through rational judgements, education, critical thinking, wise leadership, criticisms and tolerance. The
Balochistan Liberation Charter is an important step in this direction.
The core elements of the charter are derived from Balochistan, Baloch and Baloch society and culture, and the contributions of the rest of humanity. Ironically, all the articles that we find in the charter collectively are those that all progressive Baloch political parties, leaders and individuals have vocalized one way or another at different times. So there is nothing in the charter that has not been cited somewhat within sphere of the liberation movement camp prior to the publication of the charter. Bringing all that is required in our time, in one document, is a huge leap forward to our victory. However, with such activities we must not expect absolute perfection. Have there been shortcomings in preparation, communication and presentation of the charter? Certainly, there have been but this should not undermine the essence of action and the contribution that this document can make to our unity and progress of our liberation movement. If there are some shortcomings in the charter we should be proactive and highlight them and offer suggestions in order to make it as perfect as it can be and as applicable as it can be. By taking this approach we demonstrate our willingness and interest to be actively involved in our own liberation and the well-being of our people rather than some personal, political or ideological matter.
As soon as we adopt the charter, as the uniting directive, our discussions and debates will depart from trivial personal matters to an examination of ideas, theories, policies, recommendations and suggestions. Occupying states do their utmost to direct our energy attacking each other on personal issues or even employ their security forces to create a foggy toxic environment to distance us from the very real issues. In these situations we must act prudently and wisely. In the last couple of years certain matters have been raised that are not desirable to our liberation movement and they will harm every one of us. It is not too late to resolve these problems.
Three conditions are required to overcome these problems. The first one is that we need to get together around one modern and workable contract. There has been considerable work done on this issue and the Balochistan Liberation Charter is a very comprehensive document that should be taken as the platform for our actions. Secondly, we have to leave open the means of communication to all sides in the liberation camp and we should be in open contact to discuss our disagreements. Treat each cordially and listen to each other’s grievances, suggestions, recommendations and criticisms. We should respect each other’s views, opinions and ideas. Any action taken by any side that helps the occupying states one way or another is unacceptable. It will hurt all of us. Thirdly, no liberation movement will succeed without good leadership. We have to come to a practical realisation soon that everyone of us cannot be Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Without these leaders their respective liberation movements would have not succeeded. Even a reasonable size ship requires a captain to operate it effectively. These three elements are the most essential prerequisites of unity. Fortunately, we have all three prerequisites ready but not in place. So let us put these prerequisites in their right position and create a real unity and go hand in hand united against our true target and liberate ourselves from subjugation.
Dr Shahswar K is a Baloch political and Human Rights activist, and the co-ordinator of International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons in United Kingdom. He is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. He is also the author of “Money and its Origins”
This article was first published by quarterly HUMGAAM (www.humgaam.com) in July 2014.