Nothing to lose in Balochistan — but Balochistan

Published: February 25, 2012
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The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore 
saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore saroop.ijaz@ tribune.com.pk

Suppose one were to break a rule of a lifetime and take Rehman Malik seriously when he announced his intention of granting amnesty to Baloch nationalist leaders and went so far as saying that he will personally receive them on arrival. It is hard to miss the condescension and arrogance of the statement since it evidently fails to recognise the very basics of the conflict and treat this as a petty quarrel which can be muffled with assurances to a few individuals and attempts to rectify it with what comes across as some cheap pillow talk. More significantly, there is a clear implication in the statement which I am not sure Mr Malik completely grasps. To guarantee the end of violence and hostilities in future, has embedded in it the assumption that the guarantor would perhaps have a semblance of control over them. So, Rehman Malik has with one statement, used as a desperate measure, has attempted to take the blood and the guilt of decades of murder upon his hands. Hence, Rehman Malik cannot be taken seriously in this case, even if one does not mention Nauroz Khan Zehri.

‘Security establishment’ is becoming too hazy a term to ascribe direct culpability. It has become an oblique way of saying that the Pakistan armed forces and their subordinate agencies are using intense, non-stop and lethal violence upon the Baloch. Remaining on imprecise terms, ‘missing person’ is a case in point. It is a seemingly innocuous term summoning to mind the image of somebody absent from dinner or someone forgetting to pick someone up. Quite to the contrary, somebody did pick them up with the intention of torture and probably murder; it is abduction or kidnapping at the very least.

The apology and the assurance will have to come from the Army Chief, the DG ISI and the IG FC. And for it to mean anything, those kidnapped have to return or be legally tried in civilian courts and for those murdered, individual apologies should be made and resignations tendered. Remember, murder is not always forgiven, but if you wish to make an effort, extend the Baloch the courtesy of making a decent one. It will still remain the prerogative of the Baloch. The proposal for an All Parties Conference (APC) is nonsensical and diversionary on the face of it – there are only two parties to this conflict, the Pakistan armed forces and the Baloch, those with no stake in the matter should not be allowed to use this exercise as a propaganda tool.

The recent academic discussion on the Balochistan question and bleak alternatives has one distressing omission. It takes as a given, the starting point that Pakistan is a nation state and hence applying the principles and nuances relevant to a nation state. This is how deeply entrenched, the influence of the single, official narrative of the ideology of Pakistan is. Also indicative of our irrational fear that if we revisit or I dare say discard the official version starting from the two-nation theory, all hell will break lose. I think it is worth a try now in the case of Balochistan, to quote Bob Dylan, “when you have got nothing, you have got nothing to lose”. We have reached the point of nothing to lose in Balochistan, except Balochistan itself.

The efforts to intensify patriotism and a monolith identity have also surged. To my mind at least, there is no doubt that the Difa-i-Pakistan Council is backed by our establishment, primarily the military and been given the task of spewing anti-American and anti-Indian sentiment to solidify national unity, etc. The DPC is like an army of clones of that clown, Zaid Hamid. Not a word from them, on the murder of Baloch or the systematic killing of the Shia in Kurram. Even if bad faith is ruled out, admittedly hard to do here, yet they find it difficult to contemplate that there may be principles of humanity beyond the imperative of a country being forced to stay together and the fact that entire world might not have the time or the inclination of conspiring against us. I do not know if and to what extent is there foreign intervention in Balochistan, however I am clear on the point that deprivation, strangulation and murder by our patriotic army has lead us to this situation.

The DPC and their likes are very vociferously imploring Pakistanis to take up arms and go die fighting America, India, Nato and Israel, etc. The tone from many in public discourse is becoming agitated, almost threatening that force will grudgingly have to be used if the Baloch do not forgive us. The casual manner in which they talk about our soldiers going to war, for obviously unjust causes to commit murder in one or to certain death in the other is repulsive, primarily because it is disrespectful of their sacrifice in our real war against religious fanaticism. Balochistan cannot be kept glued together by the use of violence; we have already tried that and still are. To put it vaguely, a new social contract will have to be devised, if it is not too late already. To mention Bangladesh, at any length here would be a cliché.

While talking about patriotism, death and armchair zealots of the DPC, to end on an elevated note, Wilfred Owen, a soldier and perhaps the greatest war poet should be referred to. He ends his greatest work Dulce et Decorum est with:

“If in some smothering dreams you too could pace/ Behind the wagon that we flung him in, / And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,/ His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; /If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,/ Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, / My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory,/ The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est / Pro patria mori. (It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country)”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Feb 26, 2012 - 12:32AM

    And just when you would think, that space should be given for debate and dialogue, PEMRA has warned private channels not to air debates on Balochistan, because any “talk” is a threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty. I guess the powers that be have little faith in our country, that they believe that some views expressed on television will cause the nation to fall apart. Someone should hand them a spade as they dig their own graves.

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  • Parvez
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:47AM

    With a thoroughly inept government and an equally inflexible establishment the outlook seems dismal at best.

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  • Osama Siddique
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:41AM

    Excellent again Saroop

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  • Feb 26, 2012 - 2:13AM

    v hav not learn a lesson of penny from 1971 humiliation

    Justice & provincial autonomy is the key to success for “Pakistan”.

    http://bit.ly/fqc9YPRecommend

  • Indian
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:23AM

    Author has mentioned Zaid hameed in his article. ET should start accepting zaid’s criticism in comment section also. He has become very dangerous for educated middle class in pakistan. He is spreading his ideology through Internet like a wild fire. And young people support him. He provides short term respite through injection of false pride and this reinforces already existing inferiority complex in youths.

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  • John B
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:58AM

    Balochistan issue is easy to solve, if PAK follows the outline in Northern Ireland and in South Africa solutions. Let the Balochs come up with the solution and the PAK federation signs on the dotted line; No preconditions. If PAK federation is ready for this, them Balochistan is in federation. If not, there will be perpetual conflict.

    One learns history to solve the crisis, not to perpetuate it again.

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  • Observer
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:59AM

    “The casual manner in which they talk about our soldiers going to war, for obviously unjust causes to commit murder in one or to certain death in the other is repulsive, primarily because it is disrespectful of their sacrifice in our real war against religious fanaticism.”

    Very poignant thought. Very true

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  • scare
    Feb 26, 2012 - 6:58AM

    DPC, wow another tool to bifurcate Pakistan.Keep up the dude,you surely need this one.

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  • American
    Feb 26, 2012 - 7:44AM

    I was taken aback by such astounding candor from Pakistan. Brilliant.

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  • Mirza
    Feb 26, 2012 - 9:10AM

    Thanks for the US congressman that we have finally started talking the forgotten and ignored Balochistan. If our country would not discuss this issue then it would be done on the world forums. The censorship on the media is not going to save the establishment.

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  • janan
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:44PM

    “however I am clear on the point that deprivation, strangulation and murder by our patriotic army has lead us to this situation.” any patriotic pakistani , would think a thousand times before giving such a strong statement. have u forgotten the on going sacrifices by the very army jawans who are rendering countless sacrifices. now u would call the slain talibans as MAZLOOM and army as murderes. U had all the time to mention the missing persons cases and donot have an iota of knowledge of the foreign interference and the activities of the baloch terrorists outfits. have forgotten the killings of all the foreigners in the last ten years involved in development work in balochistan. A VERY SHALLOW, BIASED OPINION AND RESEARCH. Recommend

  • Falcon
    Feb 26, 2012 - 12:57PM

    Agree with the rest of the article except your argument against APC. I don’t think APC as an event will be able to conclude anything by itself, but it needs to be looked at in the bigger scheme of things. This will enable civilian leadership to consolidate its power base and create enough noise that establishment can be pushed to comply with at least the first demand of tracing missing persons. Even if it is used for point-scoring by political parties, in the long run, media will be able to coat-tail this new found political activism on the issue and bring more transparency on the issue.

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  • Arbaz Khan
    Feb 26, 2012 - 1:44PM

    in the name of Islam, thousands of people have been killed before and after the creation of Pakistan. unfortunately we the Pashtoon have been mostly the victims of this non-Islamic barbarism. Where our people were misguided the true ideology of Islam. Pakistan always used and using our natives as front-line soldier to gain their dumped and impertinence motives. Before Pakistan we were a sovereign country. we had good and formal relationship with Balochis and others. But being part of pakistan we are bearing what our late people decided it for us. you people give a simple answer to my question..
    was Prophet PBUH tolled us to make Pakistan where the rule of Islam will be better than KSA and other Arab countries where mostly the prophets belong to?
    If Balochistan get dependence, it’s will be good for our nation.we also will be free from Pakistan. we support Azad Balochistan.

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  • Basit
    Feb 26, 2012 - 3:44PM

    “The casual manner in which they talk about our soldiers going to war, for obviously unjust causes to commit murder in one or to certain death in the other is repulsive”

    Funny, this sounds exactly like the liberals who advocate participation in “war on terror” for Pakistan.

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  • Zalim singh
    Feb 26, 2012 - 6:13PM

    and pakistan can take care of Kashmir?

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  • Asma Baloch
    Feb 26, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Author@

    there are only two parties to this conflict, the Pakistan armed forces and the Baloch, those with no stake in the matter should not be allowed to use this exercise as a propaganda tool.

    you couldnt me more true.

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  • Farah Shadat
    Feb 26, 2012 - 8:44PM

    There are only 3 out 250 tribes in Balochistan struggling for freedom. So there is NO NEED to be concerned about Balochistan. media are desperate to gain attention and thats why they keep on raising this petty issue. Recommend

  • ahmed
    Feb 26, 2012 - 11:34PM

    calling migrated people in balochistan ..y dnt you write on this ..these baloch elders taking ransom and involve in so much anti state activities.please do mention them.as far as killing of baloch nationalist ,i know they kill there people and blame agencies for it.Recommend

  • Jalil
    Feb 26, 2012 - 11:36PM

    Were we asleep last month? As soon as American houses started discussing Baluchistan, we are out of our cocoons and hibernation. Sham on me, shame on you and praise be to the angels who will save the country as they ‘did’ in events leading upto 1971.

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  • Shehryar Khan
    Feb 27, 2012 - 9:04AM

    A very well written article. An eye opener.

    Recommend

  • Cynical
    Feb 28, 2012 - 1:51AM

    “Nothing to loose in Balochistan – but Balochistan”

    Right.And what is Balochistan? A vast land mass and what is under it.Sorry, forgot about the port.

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