The Neglect Of Balochistan

Due to Pakistan’s continued neglect of Balochistan, political marginalization, and economic deprivation of the people of the province, the Baloch insurgency will possibly be further strengthened and politically supported by those with unaddressed grievances.

The Neglect Of Balochistan

Due to the continual and coercive campaign for the daunting demand of a separate state for the Indian Muslims by their leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who with his Islamic agenda advantageously used the Islamically-influenced divisive Two-Nation theory, prejudicially pioneered by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and espoused by the Islamist poet Iqbal, the British, who had cunningly colonized and often ruthlessly ruled religiously and ethnically diverse India for 89 years, eventually decided to leave the region. Their departure led to the creation of West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by carving out swaths of land from British India for Muslims, based on the Muslim-majority population formula. 

Within the Indian region whose religion-based partition caused communal chaos and killings of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, there were numerous autonomous states ruled by Muslim nawabs, nizams or khans, or Hindu or Sikh maharajas who all individually had the sole power to agree or disagree to accede their territory into the newly created Pakistan, which became an independent country on August 14, 1947. The British made Jinnah the Governor General of Pakistan.

In April 1948, after the Khan of Kalat had agreed in the previous month to the accession of Balochistan into West Pakistan, the national government’s troops entered Balochistan, making the territory that had a huge swath of land a part of West Pakistan. In September 1948, Jinnah who was terminally ill with tuberculosis, which was long kept secret, spent his last days in a small town in Baluchistan, Ziarat, whose environment was then commonly claimed to be pleasant for patients with respiratory diseases.

With this accession, West Pakistan now had four provinces: Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and the Northwestern Frontier, while Balochistan being the biggest by land and richest in minerals including rare-earth ones, metals including precious ones, coal, natural gas reserves, and undoubtedly oil deposits that are yet to be drilled and extracted.

However, strangely, a patriotic but religiously themed national song, “Aao Bacho Sair Karain Tum Ko Pakistan Ki” (Come over, children, let’s take a journey through Pakistan) written in or around 1956 when there were both West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which was supposed to be about all the main ethno-geographical areas and ethnic people of Pakistan (comprised of both West Pakistan and East Pakistan), mentions Sindh, Punjab, and NW Frontier (now a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) as the main areas of Pakistan.

But the song never mentions Bengal or its residents in East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh due to the West Pakistani army’s devastating defeat and scandalous surrender to the Indian army, which helped Bengali nationalists in 1971 war that was started by West Pakistan with the genocidal military operation against unarmed citizens to fight the insurgents and separatists of economically and politically marginalized Bengal.

The song does not mention Balochistan either, or its residents in West Pakistan. And this song in its original lyrics and tune is still proudly played during national festivals and celebrations for the Independence Day of Pakistan.

Why is this omission of Balochistan from the national song acceptable, and why hasn’t the national government of Pakistan noticed the omission for decades or ordered the song to be revised and the original version to be discarded or banned? Also, is the decades-old lack of noticing or addressing the omission an indication of the government’s ethnic or cultural insensitivity to or politically motivated prejudice against the Baloch, who are Pakistani citizens and who must have the same civic rights and benefits as the other Pakistani citizens do?

This decades-old neglect of the Balochistan and prejudice against the Baloch by the national government of Pakistan has deprived the province of many advanced development projects. All the while, the province’s land has been abused for conducting hazardous nuclear tests that may have caused potential radiation sickness to the people in the vicinities; its natural resources, such as gas, minerals, and metals, have been exploited for national development or defense projects, or for exports to various countries. All of this has subjugated and robbed the residents of economic opportunities; and the extrajudicial persecution of any Baloch or their leaders who stand up for their just causes and political, legal and judicial rights and who demand their rightful proportionate share of the national revenue, continues unabated.

For example, an article, “From Balochistan to Islamabad: Why I been marching since I was 12”, the writer, Sammi Deen Baloch whose father, Dr Deen Mohammed Baloch, was “abducted from Ornach hospital in Khuzdar, Balochistan, on June 28, 2009” grievously and vociferously says, “Each time I come to Islamabad, my sorrows seem to intensify, and the pain becomes more pronounced. I feel increasingly isolated and abandoned — as if I am an alien, a terrorist, or an immigrant in my own country.”

Per the article, there have been disappearances of so many Baloch people whose loved ones gather at a protest place “filled with infants and their mothers, school-going kids, newborns, and children who haven’t even seen their fathers yet.” There have also been extrajudicial interrogations and killings of Baloch people according to various reports.

The persecution, along with the economic deprivation of Baloch not only lengthens their already long list of grievances against the national government of Pakistan, but it also seems to have prevalently affected most Baloch while primarily pervading their psyches in a way that leads them to think or feel that they are not Pakistani citizens.

As such, the long-endured, dehumanizing, unaddressed grievances have resulted in the apparent insurgency or liberation movement of the grievous Baloch people who are socially and/or politically polarized in almost all aspects.

So, it is opportune to ask this rhetorical question: has Pakistan not learned a lesson from or does it suffer from amnesia about East Pakistan that was lost due to West Pakistan’s policies, practices and hegemony – all of which marginalized East Pakistan with rampant exploitation and discrimination.

Due to Pakistan’s continued neglect of Balochistan in various ways and also due to Pakistan’s frequent unthinkable persecution, political marginalization, and economic deprivation of Balochistan residents who are by law Pakistani citizens, the Baloch insurgency will possibly be further financially strengthened and politically supported by more separatist Baloch people with unaddressed grievances.

This situation will most likely invite, unless it has already happened, foreign nefarious actors or disguised agents of the neighboring countries; and as a result, Pakistan will one day stand to possibly lose its Balochistan province to India, which dreams to see Pakistan broken apart again (like in 1971) and which may wish to add Balochistan to the Federation Union; to Afghanistan, which shares its ethnicities or Islamist aims with many people of Balochistan; or to Iran, which has its own trouble with the Baluch insurgents of Sistan and Baluchistan Province whom the Iranian government may for its own long-term security and strategic aims incentivize to join the cause of the Pakistan’s Baloch insurgency. Is it what Pakistan wants for its Balochistan province?

The author is a Pakistani American based in California and is the founder of a medical devices research and development company.