Not In My Name Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

I support the Baloch cause because my conscience tells me it is the right thing and for the same reason, I will speak the truth. Moreover, I will not be silent if atrocities are committed in my name

“Sometimes people do not want toahear the truth because they do not want their illusions destroyed” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

I unequivocally condemn the killing of 18 persons from Punjab, KP and Sindh in Shooli Jam bazaar in Turbat on July 6. A spurious group, Baloch Liberation Tigers (BLT), has claimed responsibility. The BLT – traffickers and smugglers – are patronised by the Frontier Corps (FC). Little wonder then, human and drug smuggling is rampant with the connivance of the FC. Pakistan is the principal conduit for the Afghan heroin trade for global markets as some 240 tons is smuggled through it. Over 85 percent of Afghanistan’s heroin comes from Helmand (66 percent), Kandahar (nine percent), Farah (10 percent) – all bordering Balochistan, and with the FC controlling the borders. Unfortunately, the Turbat killings have been used to malign the nationalist struggle and some editorials wrongly blame Dr Allah Nazar and the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF).

Undoubtedly, Pakistani excesses in Balochistan are extreme and indiscriminate. On June 20, Mohammad Bakhsh Baloch, a 75-year old-farmer of Kech district, father-in-law of a friend, was off loaded by the FC at Jusak check post and has not been heard from since. The Espilinji Seven were killed by the FC a few days ago; officials admit helicopters were used and yet, army operations are denied. Teenage boys too are abducted. An 18-year-old, Sagheer Baloch s/o Rahim Baksh of Pasni, was abducted from Nalent. Dad Shah Baloch, brother of martyr comrade Qayyum Baloch, was abducted by the army in Gwadar. There is no let up in the organised violence against the Baloch people. They kill because of what these Baloch aspire for. If they kill them for being Baloch, why would Chief Minister Raisani and company thrive?

I know what I say will irk many of the young enthusiastic activists enough to brand me as a lily-livered, chicken-hearted liberal, but I am not going to give up my humanism and humanity just for the fear of being labelled as such. I will speak up for what I think is right. I would have condemned the Turbat killings regardless of who was behind them. We rightly and readily condemn those who look the other way when the Baloch are the victims, hence I think we too should not look the other way when people are killed in our name. Killing innocents in the name of the struggle is morally wrong because filth cannot be washed away by filth and the enemy strives to create a situation where people resisting them come down to their level.

If anybody thinks criticising incorrect policies committed in the name of the struggle is tantamount to undermining the cause, he is absolutely wrong. Wrong because if we do not develop the spirit and the moral strength to speak up on policies thatch we think are wrong or flawed, we will, when emancipated, end up exactly like those we are struggling to be emancipated from, and that is not something all these sacrifices are being made for. Autocratic rulers and repressive armies remain unpunished because people look the other way, pretending that nothing is happening. Therefore, if we too pretend that nothing is happening when innocent people are killed, we too will be guilty of abetting the crime. Emancipation is sought for being different from the oppressor, but if we want to act like the oppressor than why seek emancipation at all? Why not join up and do more of the same? When people stop dissenting and opposing injustices, then the likes of Pol Pot, the Pakistani state and the Taliban are created.

Wanton violence is immoral and counter-productive, eventually leading to an irreversible rot in organisations and states. Amazingly, the head-hunting Dayak tribes of Borneo, famous for displaying shrunk enemy heads as coveted trophies and considered savages for that, shunned the wanton violence that we witness here today. The Dayaks considered it immoral to kill someone they did not know or did not have a score to settle with. They were shocked to learn that so-called civilised people used mass destruction weaponry to kill and maim indiscriminately. For them, killing people with whom they had no feud was something reprehensible and revolting. Wilful and wanton violence had no place in their society, neither should it have in ours. We need to learn from the Dayaks and refrain from wanton violence. The Dayaks were a lot more civil and refined in their violence than that practised by the Pakistani state, its ‘strategic assets’, and the mobs here, for theirs is a violence as wanton as it is senseless and immoral. Let us not become one of them.

Moreover, we also have friends, supporters and sympathisers the world over and they expect us to be different in our approach from the state, for it is the difference and justice of our cause for which they support us. Indiscriminate violence will alienate friends. The Baloch struggle is for freedom; it is not an ethnocentric war and that is exactly what the agencies want to bring it down to, so that the Baloch lose support and credibility. Anyone attempting to bring it down to that level is no friend of the Baloch. Remember, Aslam Raisani is not a Punjabi and neither is anyone collaborating with the state to undermine the struggle. The Baloch struggle should not be allowed to be degraded into an ethnic war.

I have to admit I would not be willing to accompany someone who gloats about or condones atrocities on ethnic grounds even on a short trip, let alone the cherished journey of emancipation that the Baloch have embarked upon. Before someone thinks that I am getting cold feet, they should know that my commitment has been and will be unwavering until either I am physically eliminated by the state or I become incapacitated by disease or age. I will neither acquiesce to state intimidation to give up the cause that is closest to my heart and at the same time, I will not remain quiet at mistakes committed by us simply for the fear of opprobrium from friends who would readily see it as a weakening in my avowed position. I support the Baloch cause because my conscience tells me it is the right thing and for the same reason, I will speak the truth. Moreover, I will not be silent if atrocities are committed in my name. We need to face the truth otherwise we will end up living with our illusions.

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]

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