By: Urooj Zia
If you see the flag of Pakistan in Balochistan, you are either on the Balochistan University campus in Quetta or at the provincial assembly – or, more alarmingly, within metres of a checkpost manned by the Frontier Corps (FC), the paramilitary force that controls the province. Nowhere else in this, the country’s largest province by area, will you see the national flag. On the contrary, flags of Azad Balochistan are a dime a dozen, adorning shops, houses, streetlights and random poles. Schools in the province – even those administered by the government – start their day not with ‘Pak ser zameen’ (the national anthem), but with ‘Ma chukki Balochani’, the anthem of Azad Balochistan. Here, the Pakistani state, army and paramilitary forces are figures of hate, while the sarmachar (Baloch ‘freedom fighters’) are considered heroes.
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