Pushed to the Wall
Raza Rumi, The News, March 27, 2011
There must be something terribly wrong with the state of Pakistan that in its largest province, state schools no longer recite the national anthem and are giving up on the Pakistani flag. Tragic, that such alarming reports flashed in the national newspapers and on the internet are a subject of little debate and introspection across the country. Either that nobody really cares as to what happens to the tribals in the southwest of Pakistan, or that there is soft censorship at play. Such is the level of self-censorship on the issue of Balochistan that the ongoing insurgency finds scant mention in the otherwise, hysterical electronic media of Pakistan. True, there are brave exceptions in the public arena, but the eerie silence on Balochistan is disturbing for any Pakistani who believes in the territorial and federal integrity of Pakistan.
Only during the last six months, dozens of Baloch political activists have been reported dead. It is difficult to ascertain exact numbers, given the lack of credible information. But palpable violence defines the state of Balochistan. On the one hand, there are Baloch activists, leaders and professionals who are being targeted by ‘unknown’ forces and on the other hand, thousands of ‘settlers’ (mostly Punjabis) have been leaving the province, as their lives are no longer secure. A wide array of Baloch separatist groups exist in the province, whose source of funding is unknown and whose political agenda is vague, despite the overall banner of ‘independence’.
The history of Balochistan is stymied by the imposition of a national narrative and its symbolic manifestation remains the refusal of the Khan of Qalat to accede to the new state of Pakistan in 1947. Thus, historical grievance has swollen to a degree where ‘Pakistan’, at least in the ‘Baloch’ districts, is now an imagined enemy to be countered with the narratives spun by the separatists. There is also the story of ‘exploitation’: from the inadequate (and perhaps misappropriated) Sui gas royalties, to the Gwadar port which is not under Baloch control; while the natural wealth of the province is perceived as being looted by ‘foreigners’.
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Related - Various Perspectives:
Aghaz-e-Huqooq-e-Balochistan - IPRI Paper
Pakistan's Fatal Shore by Robert Kaplan, Atlantic Monthly
Local Voices: Glossing over Balochistan’s home truths - Express Tribune