The Pakistani establishment is trying to solve the problems by the very same methods that created them in the first place
Seemingly, warped logic motivates the Pakistani establishment where the Baloch or Sindhis are concerned. I was not amazed at reading the news that the Balochistan High Court (BHC) demanded an explanation from the federal information secretary, the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, the provincial information secretary and Balochistan public relations director as to why its order about stopping statements of militants belonging to banned organisations from being disseminated by electronic and print media had not been implemented. It is pertinent to mention that in October 2011, the BHC banned reports about militants in the media. This demand comes in the wake of the March 15, 2013 notification of the interior ministry that the Baloch Students Organization (Azad) and Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) stood banned, ironically with a clutch of Pakistan’s former but now out-of-control proxies, as terrorist organisations.
Interestingly, the report, “State of Journalism in Balochistan 2011” by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists states that in 2010, “The Baloch Musala Diffa Army (BMDA) called the Khuzdar Press Club and warned that since the Baloch separatist organisations are engaged in the targeted killings of innocent people, the journalists should not give space to them in their newspapers. The caller who identified himself as Mir Jang Baloch also warned that any journalist found covering their activities would be killed by them.” So the BDMA issued directives were adopted by the BHC too. As if these threats and directives were not enough, on April 6 the offices of the outspoken Daily Tawar, which reports on Baloch issues, was ransacked, looted and set on fire in Karachi. Had any other paper’s office suffered this fate the sky would have come crashing down.
This warped logic becomes even more poignant when it is seen that avowedly sectarian outfits under the garb of respectability in new names have unhindered access to the media, especially when Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, the head of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), gives an interview to an English weekly, and no one bothers. This brazen double standard could perhaps be explained by a Sheikh Saadi parable. A poet overestimating his poetic prowess and hoping to get a reward went to a robber baron’s lair with a eulogy. Instead of appreciating the gesture, the uncivilised robber baron had him thrashed and sent him away naked. Winter it was and this cowering unfortunate soul hoped to slink away unnoticed but suddenly a pack of dogs descended on him and as he tried to lift stones to fend them off, he found them frozen hard in the ground. Exasperated he said, “Een che hast, mardumaanand, saggaan ra kushaada, ‘o’ sing ra basta” (how vilely evil these folk are, they have unleashed the dogs and tied the stones). The establishment here is engaged in just such an exercise.
The pronouncements of the Baloch nationalists seem to threaten the establishment no end and it is making a concerted effort to curb Baloch rights. This banning and curbing of the Baloch and Sindhi organisations exposes the establishment’s bias against those who want their rights while it turns a blind eye to its own sponsored ‘death squads’ in Balochistan and the sectarian organisations there and elsewhere.
JSMM for long has been actively struggling for the historical and political rights of the people of Sindh, and in the last few years quite a few of its leaders have become victims of the abduct, torture and murder policy. On April 20, Siraie Qurban Kohawar, Ropilu Cholyani and Noorullah Tunio of JSMM were travelling from Khipro to Sanghar in a car; they were intercepted and fired upon by unidentified armed men in a Toyota Land Cruiser who then set their car alight. Kohawar and Choulyani were killed on the spot while the injured Tunio, who later died, recorded his statement with the police.
Muzaffar Bhutto, JSMM’s secretary general, went missing on February 25, 2011. He was abducted once before in October 2005 from Tariq Road, Karachi, but returned later. His wife Saima Bhutto appealed to the international community and human rights organisations for his recovery and petitioned the Sindh High Court requesting his freedom from the illegal custody of the ISI but nothing happened. Then on May 22, 2012, her worst fears were realised when her 42-year-old husband’s corpse was brought home. Numerous activists of different factions of JSMM have been abducted but released after torture.
BSO (Azad) has been in the forefront in demanding the rights of the Baloch for nearly five decades now. It has agitated peacefully and served the Baloch nation in the times of national disasters, but in return it has suffered immeasurably at the hands of the Pakistani establishment and its dirty war death squads. So far 105 BSO (Azad) activists have been victims of the systematic dirty war against the Baloch, and this is apart from those missing like Zakir Majeed. The names are too numerous to list, and include office bearers and workers alike.
The Pakistani establishment is trying to solve the problems by the very same methods that created them in the first place. In response to the Baloch demand for the restoration of their rights, Pakistan sought a solution in brutal repression, and this resulted in the Baloch people’s fearless defiance, but instead of learning, Pakistan thinks the solution lies in more repression. Albert Einstein achieved so much because he knew, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” He understood this perfectly and, therefore, defined insanity thus: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So one can safely conclude that the Pakistani establishment’s behaviour is in complete correspondence with Einstein’s definition. This flaw definitely should ring alarm bells for all and one cannot but agree with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” And that, “There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.” Ironically, Pakistan displays and flaunts its aggressive stupidity as a virtue.
The Baloch, and to some extent Sindhis, realise that they will have to stand up for their rights because they are not going to get them gratis. They also know that if they take all the injustices lying down they are likely to suffer even more excesses and injustice. They know the truth of Immanuel Kant’s adage: “One who makes himself a worm cannot complain afterwards if people step on him.”
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org