Balochistan, rich in natural resources with a great geopolitical location, is a land of immense potential but has suffered a legacy of exploitation under Pakistan’s colonial policies, writes Asghar Ali, president of Baloch National Movement Germany Chapter.
The end of the second world war not only marked the defeat of Nazi Germany and fascism but also proved to be a nail in the coffin of British colonialism. The Subcontinent after the 1847 mutiny had come under the direct control of the British Queen and was going to be a free land. However, the British while working on its divide-and-rule policy sliced the Indian continent into two halves, by creating a state, Pakistan in the given name of Islam with a futuristic vision to protect its interest in the region.
In the process, Balochistan, which was under British rule as a semi-autonomous country, fully threw off the shekels of slavery and declared itself a free country. After the partition of India, on 27 March 1948, Pakistan Army stormed into Balochistan and annexed it through the barrel of guns. The Baloch people under Prince Abdul Karim resisted joining Pakistan and staged a rebellion.
The revolt was eventually quashed by the Pakistani authorities, who imposed a military regime and used oppressive tactics to force the Baloch people into submission. Since then, the Pakistani government has resorted to a policy of suppression. No colonial rule will survive without the support of native people. Pakistan in order to maintain its rule have empowered tribal Lords. All the Sardars of Balochistan are working as cronies of Pakistan.
They are considered the stumbling block in the path of national liberation. People lacking in education are preached to adore tribal loyalty. Such a frame of mind immensely helps Pakistan to keep a good percentage of people away from coming into the fold of national discourse.
Furthermore, the Pakistani government has also used religion as a tool to maintain control over the region. Religious schools are being constructed at every knock and corner of Balochistan in order to suppress nationalistic views in the name of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Only in Turbat city in the last ten years has more than four Madrassas been created, each having a capacity of around 300 hundred students. The nationalists see such development as a well-orchestrated plan of the state to counter the growing waves of nationalism. The people of Balochistan are deprived of modern education.
Stereotyping has always remained a powerful weapon of colonisers to justify their hegemony over the colonised. “The white men’s burden” for civilising their colonies or terming the Africans as none but “Aps” remained a common theme during Western colonial rule. Pakistan follow-suiting its predecessors in labelling Baloch as tribesmen and are self-responsible for their miseries. Even Pakistani textbooks in order to justify their colonial control defined Baloch as barbaric and uncivilised.
The cherry on the cake: this policy of keeping the people of Balochistan away from education is proved to be a double-edged sword for Pakistan: to keep Baloch people backwards as well as get financial support across the world through UN agencies and Western powers.
Apart from this, Pakistan has been targeting Baloch leaders and intellectuals, those who raised their voices against Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan and those who championed the freedom of Balochistan and even the basic rights for the people of Balochistan. The 75 years of colonial rule of Pakistan in Balochistan is full of deceit and false promises.
All those treacheries, from Nourz Khan’s imprisonment to the killing and dumping of the mutilated bodies of Ghulam Mohammad and his friends, at the hands of Pakistan, turned out to be symbolic milestones in the path of Baloch nationalism. All such sour experiences only deepened and more radicalized the belief of Baloch that freedom from Pakistan is the only way to their emancipation. The Islamabad-led colonial policies have only served to further alienate the Baloch people from the rest of the country.
Apart from propagating an oppressive rule, Balochistan has also been ignored in terms of its economy. The life of the people of Balochistan heavily depended on border trade and the profession of fishing. However, Pakistan has adopted a regressive policy. Pakistani paramilitary force, Frontier Corps (FC) which controls Balochistan, has shut down the Iranian border for the flow of trade. As a result, thousands of people have lost their means of livelihood. The people of Gwadar, which is the port city and termed the hub of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), are deprived of fishing.
Illegal trawling, with full support of the Pakistan Army, has even made their lives worse. The government arrested the leaders of Haq Do Tahreek, which is formed to protect the basic rights of Gwadar and Balochistan, who have been detained and framed false cases against them. In the same way, according to human rights groups Pakistan’s military and its other forces, now and then, are involved in burning the crops in the region of Awaran, Dera Bugti and Barkhan, as well as killing the livestock during military operations. The forced migration of people by the military has exacerbated the miseries of people.
Pakistani colonialism in Balochistan has had a great impact on the media and press, particularly in terms of suppression and censorship. Pakistan sought to use the media to spread its own ideals and ideas, and thus restricted the publication of any information that would discredit its control on Baloch land. In doing so, Pakistan has not only limited the press’s ability to criticize its own policies but also ensured that its own views and opinions are disseminated to the population. There is information about Black Holes in Balochistan. The Baloch journalists are in constant threat.
Several journalists such as Haji Abdul Razzaq, Razak Gul, Irshad Mastwi, Ilyas Nazar and several others were killed by Pakistani forces. The Daily Tawar and Daily Asap were forced to stop publishing newspapers that constantly reported on the ongoing atrocities of the Pakistan Army in Balochistan. International media and journalists are forbidden to visit Balochistan. Carlotta Gall, the author of “The Wrong Enemy” were beaten by Inter Service Intelligence(ISI) officials in Quetta.
However, social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become effective tools for Baloch political activists and social activists to expose the colonial mindset of Pakistan in Balochistan. Online newspaper and media publishing groups, like Radio Zrumbesh, The Balochistan Post, Balochistan Times and Twitter spaces are giving hard time to Pakistan to suppress the voices in Balochistan.
Baloch’s national struggle with the turn of the century has marked several positive and incremental developments. The formation of political parties championing a free Balochistan organised and lasting guerrilla warfare against Pakistani forces, and the formation of human rights groups that are reporting the human rights abuse in Balochistan are shaking ground to keep them motivated to keep their struggle for a free Balochistan alive and kicking. It is safe to remark, despite a lot of existing issues, spreading from societal setup to the political front, Baloch has a purpose and a goal to fight against the colonial ambitions of Pakistan.