Balochistan blues

Published: August 15, 2012

Dissatisfaction with the federal government’s treatment of the province has resulted in major fallouts. PHOTO: FILE

Some three days ahead of the rest of the country, the people of Balochistan marked what they said was their independence day. According to some reports, the flag of Pakistan was burnt at some places on this occasion and calls were made hailing an independent Balochistan. August 11 marked the day the state of Kalat announced its independence from British India with its parliament stating that it would be acceding neither to Pakistan nor to India. This was accepted by the British rulers of the colony. Kalat makes up 23 per cent of the population of the territory of Balochistan. The state joined the federation of Pakistan on March 27, 1948 as a result of what the Baloch say was severe military pressure. The Khan of Kalat had acknowledged this.

Since then, dissatisfaction with the federal government’s treatment of the province has resulted in major fallouts, with the insurgency in the early 1970s for greater autonomy readily coming to mind — which was put down ruthlessly through military force. This time, too, arrests were made during the August 11 celebrations, which have been severely criticised by some forces. The problem is that there appears to be no solution in sight. Naveed Qamar, the head of the government’s Balochistan committee, has said that not all Balochs are insurgents and many are patriots. He does not, however, state what has been done to offer development and a sense of belonging to the Baloch people, who have been angered to a considerable extent due to the lack of progress in the province and the failure to share resources equally with them. It is only when these issues will be tackled that we can hope to make any dent in the nationalist uprising in Balochistan.

It is also a fact that the majority of Baloch and Pashtun people living in Balochistan favour far greater provincial autonomy than they enjoy right now, according to a recent survey organised by the British aid agency Department for International Development. The fact that many do not favour a complete breakaway from Pakistan is encouraging and should be used by the centre to bridge the existing trust deficit. This is something to build on. But the process must take place quickly. Too much time has already been lost which is why we face the dire situation that confronts us today.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Aug 16, 2012 - 2:02AM

    On the other hand, Balochis as a nation has shown no signs or willingness to become part of national stream. The CSS examination has quota for Balochistan which goes unfilled every year. They don’t want to join armed forces. Bureaucracy and Establishment has always been biased and not just in Pakistan but throughout the world. Balochis complain that Punjab has greatest say in the federation, that’s for a reason that it is dominated by the Punjabis. As compared to that, Balochis just don’t want to be part of either establishment or Bureaucracy. They will keep suffering just like that!

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  • Salma
    Aug 16, 2012 - 2:28AM

    the respected editor thinks 37% Baloch asking for independence is not a serious issue – and also overlooks the limitations of the survey in Balochistan – Great! Instead of raising an alarm bell – complacency rules – a nation in self denial and a media that forms public opinion is in self denial- doing more harm than good.

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  • V. C. Bhutani
    Aug 16, 2012 - 4:24AM

    One is grateful that the editorial or chairman of the cabinet committee on Baluchistan does not talk about the “foreign hand”, which is an excuse invented and used by incompetent or inefficient rulers. No foreign influence or effort can create an insurgency unless the people concerned have genuine grievances. In the present case (Baluchistan), the people all along have had grievances against the central government and against the Punjab- and Punjabi-dominated dispensation that rules Pakistan. As the editorial says, there is need for quick measures to make sure that the situation takes a turn for the better. If that happens, no “foreign hand” shall be able to do anything.
    V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 16 Aug 2012, 0453 IST

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  • Manoj Joshi
    Aug 16, 2012 - 5:14PM

    The Province of Balochistan is a part of The Islamic Republic of Pakistan as much as Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are parts of the Republic of India. Recently there have been serious agitations and unrest in Balochistan and demand for independence. Such political developments are serious indicators of administrative weakness and waning control of the center. The Federal Government of Pakistan must seriously address the problems of the people of Balochistan and review the concept of granting greater autonomy to that province nevertheless there remains a responsibility on the people of Balochistan that they refrain from indulging in a movement that is seditious in nature. Demand for an independent Balochistan as a nation is pure sedition and hence if the Government of Pakistan resorts to stern measures then there actions cannot be blamed as a violation of human rights. The focus of the Government of Pakistan should be towards development of industry, infrastructure in Balochistan and try to harness the natural resources of that province for their development and welfare and thereby create or generate new avenues of employment. Employment and employment alone can water down the unrest in Balochistan as economic disparity alone the the basic cause behind insurgency or any sort of political or social unrest. This is off course going to be a slow process which will take time but the only long term solution. Human resource development within Balochistan needs to be done on a war footing in order to involve the youth of the province. As such Baluchis and Pathans who have been a marshal and like Gurkhas and Sikhs adored the defence forces hence they are a resource to Pakistan. This is all the more reason that the Government of Pakistan pays appropriate attention to this province and chalks out a strategy to resolve this crisis the earlier is does so the better shall it be. Breaking away of this province from Pakistan can have serious repercussions across Asia as this may trigger similar insurgent movements in other countries too wherein discontent among certain sections of the people is poignant.

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  • Indian
    Aug 16, 2012 - 7:03PM

    According to some reports, the flag of Pakistan was burnt at some places on this occasion and calls were made hailing an independent Balochistan. August 11 marked the day the state of Kalat announced its independence from British India with its parliament stating that it would be acceding neither to Pakistan nor to India.
    Hmmmmm….. Pakistan occupied Baluchistan…….

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  • A J Khan
    Aug 17, 2012 - 1:15PM

    Balochistan is still not understood by most of Pakistanis. There is a need to understand the history, demography culture and politics of Balochistan. The province is dwelled by Pashtuns (45%), Balochs (30%) and Brahvi (20%) and settlers/Hazaras 5%,
    Pashtuns and settlers have different aspirations. All Balochs and Brahavi does not suport independence of Balochistan. Rather a large majority wants their rights within the frame work of Pakistan.
    Keeping the statistics in view a large majority has rejected the idea of self-determination. However the grievances are there which must be resolved on permanent basis through legislation and development.

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  • uzair
    Aug 24, 2012 - 1:04PM

    Balochistan’s population is only 10 million, approx same as the population of Lahore and less then the population of karachi.

    Over 50 percent of balochistan’s population are Pashtuns, patriotic Pakistanis who have died for this country.

    As far as not sharing revenue’s goes, the province gets it’s share of revenue relative to it’s population, like every other province.

    Your baloch land lords eat up that money and blame islamabad for all the ills.

    Go to a village in Punjab, Sindh or KP and they live an equally miserable life, open your eyes, its the politicansRecommend

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