Habib Jalib: The Unrivaled Nationalist By Malik Akbar Siraj

On July 14th, the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) remembered its assassinated secretary general and former member of the Pakistani Senate, Habib Jalib Baloch. Mr. Baloch was a Supreme Court lawyer and a prominent scholar on Baloch nationalism.

On July 14th, the Balochistan National Party (B.N.P.) remembered its assassinated secretary general and former member of the Pakistani Senate, Habib Jalib Baloch. Mr. Baloch was a Supreme Court lawyer and a prominent scholar on Baloch nationalism. He had formerly served as the chairman of the Baloch Students Organization (B.S.O.), a platform from where he had initiated his political career. Mr. Baloch was shot dead on July 14th, 2010 in Quetta city. The motives behind his killing are still unclear while the B.N.P. blames the Pakistani security establishment for plotting his murder as it has also raised fingers on the government for the killing of many other leaders and activists, including some members of the party’s Central Committee.

While remembering Mr. Baloch, the B.N.P. pledged to continue his mission.

What was Mr. Baloch’s mission and how can it be accomplished?

Mr. Baloch was indeed one of the finest of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He was educated in the erstwhile Soviet Union and was among the highly educated breed of the Baloch nationalist leaders. He spent his entire life in activism and struggled to highlight the plight of the Baloch people. He elegantly presented Balochistan’s case on various platforms, ranging from conferences to television talk shows. He was an ardent champion of democracy and human rights. As a lawyer, he freely fought the cases of the missing Baloch persons while always led peaceful protest rallies of the B.N.P. Mr. Baloch, during the last days of his life, had become a supporter of Balochistan’s right to self-determination as he believed a mere call for provincial autonomy while living within the federation of Pakistan was insufficient. He believed in peaceful, democratic struggle for the attainment of the Baloch rights and did not endorse the use of violence for the achievement of oppressed people’s rights.

During General Musharraf’s martial law, Mr. Baloch was also detained on a number of occasions. Firstly, he was held when Musharraf ordered the disruption of B.N.P.’s Lashkar-e-Balochistan long march. Later on, he was imprisoned for anti-emergency protests that condemned the detention of lawyers on the instructions of General Musharraf.

Mr. Baloch belonged to a middle-class Baloch family and he had reached the top level of nationalist politics by the virtue of his own consistent hard work, commitment and engagement with the idea of Baloch nationalism. He was a fine self-made man who often inspired audiences with his cogent arguments and academic discussions. In Baloch nationalist history, very few people without a major tribal background have managed to reach the top. Many of Mr. Baloch’s contemporaries belonging to the middle class, such as late Raziq Bugti, either gave up or joined the government. He was among the few who neither belonged to a tribal family nor gave up his affiliation with the nationalist movement. He started as a Baloch nationalist during his studentship time and died as a nationalist at such a hard time that most key Baloch leaders, including those from his own party, had fled the country fearing assassination or arrest.

Mr. Baloch held a unique position in Baloch politics and no one among all schools of thought in the Baloch politics could replace him. In a nutshell, the Baloch nationalist movement has not been able to produce qualified leaders like Mr. Baloch since he was forced to depart from this world. Most of nationalist leaders today lack Mr. Baloch’s acumen, understanding of the very philosophy of Baloch nationalism and its history. They have landed on leadership positions because someone in their families was a ‘nationalist’ at one point of time in the history. Mr. Baloch did not inherit his position from anyone in his family. He worked hard to achieve it.

If the B.N.P. is truly committed to accomplishing Mr. Baloch’s goal, it should encourage and promote academic discussions and study circles among the young Baloch political activists. The Baloch nationalists desperately need qualified young men and women who should not only learn their own lessons of nationalism but also grasp proper understanding of global politics, contemporary challenges and political strategies. In his lifetime, Mr. Baloch guided a full generation of young activists and introduced them with the true essence of nationalism. Now, it is the time to emulate his practices.



The Baloch Hal


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