Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Baloch Question

Mir Surat Khan Mari

The writers, intellectuals, and specially students of political science know well the concept of federalism. We briefly deal with Baloch reservations on Pakistan as a multi-national state, federation working, historical perspectives, and the legitimacy of Pakistani federation.

Pakistani historians and intellectuals trace the concept of Pakistan from a resolution adopted on 23rd March, 1940 at Lahore calling for an independent and sovereign states-for Muslims of sub-continent “ which constitutes the areas, in context of present Pakistan federation—Sindh, , Punjab NWFP and Balochistan. In this demand and plan, let us see where “Balochistan” is located in the map of Sub-continent. We should be very clear that it was 1940.

(i) Baloch confederacy - Kalat State was independent and sovereign - all its affairs with British Government were being dealt by the British foreign office under certain agreements signed between the two as sovereign states.

(ii) There also existed an area called British Balochistan which consisted of Baloch lands obtained by British on lease – Quetta, Nasirabad, Chagai, Mari, Bugti Agency and Pushtoon lands mostly occupied in the wake of Gandumuk agreement signed under duress, as was the case with Kalat rulers. British Balochistan was Pre-dominantly an area of Pushtoon population, British Balochistan was ruled as a part of British Indian Union though the area other wise was outside he sub-continent.

Pakistan Plan for Muslim’s of Sub-continent

Interestingly neither Baloch confederacy, nor British Balochistan were and are Geo-politically, historically or culturally i.e. in the context of civilization formed a part of sub –continent and Baloch unit starts from the west of Indus River to Kerman and from south of Helmand River to Arabian Sea. This Baloch unit is no part of sub-continent, Middle East.. Politically it may have changed hands to Persian, Kabul and Delhi Empires, but it always remained a unit and principality - predominantly a Baloch populated region from known history.

As far cultural unit or in the context of civilization, sub – continental civilization ends at river Sindh. All experts also agree that Mesopotamian civilization finishes at Kerman. Central Asian and Chinese civilization concludes at Helmand. it has been proved that Baloch unit has indigenous cultural development of it own nevertheless, one can find strong influences of Mesopotamian, central Asian and Indian civilization on Baloch unit due to various trade routes across the Baloch unit linking these civilizations. There fore, the plan of a separate Muslim state in “sub continent” does not legitimately include Baloch unit which in all respect was outside sub-continent. The unit was also not included in British Indian union, as was the case with Afghanistan with a lot of geo – political similarities to Balochistan.

As far as the claim of a referendum in British Balochistan or Kalat is concerned, it never materialized. In British Balochistan, it never took place. From stipulated date fixed for so called referendum about a week ago, all Baloch hierarchal leaders of British Balochistan Sindh and Punjab unanimously approached British authorities to allow them to determine their future with Baloch confederacy. Later on, before inception of Pakistan, Kalat State declared Independence and then both the Houses of Kalat state again unanimously rejected annexation with Pakistan. In 1948, Kalat was raided.

There had never been a federation plan for Pakistan in the real sense of the concept of federation. Present Pakistan until 1970 had a unitary status. The constitution making in seventies does not have legitimacy. The elections were held included East Pakistan. After Bangla Desh independence, for the rest of Pakistan those elections were meaningless .However, the constitution was framed under duress and Baloch majority of elected members rejected the same. All Baloch members from Balochistan except one did not sign the process. Today when we are talking of a federal solution, the question arises under what dispensation and arrangement? And if at all, some day in the future, there would be an agreement or constitution what Guarantees Baloch would receive – whether Baloch rely on Pakistan promises with all their 53 years experiences of broken pledges even those on Quran. There is another big question, today whether internationally – all nation of world included, is there any one who would rely on the words of Pakistan?

Federation means a state with multi-nationalism and consensus of parties as a whole. Now the question is, who we define Baloch identity (party as a whole), if we evolve a solution to Baloch question in the federation of Pakistan. Baloch are living in a large number in Iran, Afghanistan and in Diaspora. Moreover when they have expressed their consensus for Pakistan and not for another neighboring Muslim county .To know
Baloch and his aspirations we need to know his antagonism in the region in historical perspective.

First Baloch antagonism with Persians could be traced 6th century AD. In Sasanian era, when Anausherwan, known as the just and to Baloch, the cruel, was the ruler of the empire.

According to Firdusi, Baloch had devastated men, material and the land. The Sasanian Kings though were themselves Zoroastrians but were not Mazdaki. The king of the day was under strong pressure from fundamentalists to crush the evil of Baloch liberation resistance and of the Mazdakis the Zoroastrian sects to which Baloch belong to. Baloch were heavily raided and Firdusi explained their genocide as there remained no Baloch, nor any sign of them.

Baloch antagonism to Persian had soon expressed itself when Arabs attacked Persia. Persian and Arabs had equal fighting force and Baloch were a deciding factor. The entered into an agreement with Arabs and sided with them in the battle field of Qadisiyah. Persians were defeated. Against the Shiaism which is an _expression of Persian hate to Arab Sunnism, the Baloch remain Sunni.

Politically Persian never withdrew their claim to Baloch land even today. Shah of Iran publicly proclaimed, if Pakistan faces a Balkanization, Iran’s frontiers would be readjusted. And in great divide of Balochistan, in the wake of Great Game, drawing unilateral boundary lines; (Gold Smid, Durand and Macmohan) a big chunk of Balochistan was given to Iran and another area to Afghanistan. Similarly, in the name of administrative arrangement British had annexed Baloch areas of D.G. Khan etc. to Punjab and Jacobabad etc to Sindh besides annexing leased areas to British Indian Union. The policy of changing frontiers of Baloch land in the name of administrative constituencies for the purpose of demographic imbalance in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan continues till today.

Before inception of Pakistan during a vote in British Balochistan, Baloch form Punjab and Sindh opted to be included with Baloch confederacy. Later on British planned for a vote in British Balochistan, which was never held formally. Very interestingly, the big player of that drama in British Balochistan, Nawab Jogezai had received a good news and confirmation from British authorities to be a member of Pakistan National Assembly before Pakistan’s creation. Similarly, Mr. M. A. Jinnah who was pleading Baloch confederacy case received a letter that Baloch are incapable to shoulder their international responsibilities in case of their sovereign status, may not be given the choice.

Apart from the present unannounced punitive action against Baloch today, four large-scale punitive actions were launched in the past, which affected entire Balochistan, small actions are numerous, and the question is why? Till today there is no answer from Pakistan. Baloch have yet to comprehend the reason. The entire world knows what role Baloch is playing in Pakistan policy and decisions making. What share the Baloch has in establishment and Army. What is their share in finances? How many of them are languishing in Pakistani prisons without trial-not to speak the credibility of judiciary in these countries. Why such a large number of Baloch are in Diaspora?

Today Pakistan and Iran are breeding grounds for fundamentalism. They are a menace of Militarization (only to suppress and terrorize the weak nations). Against these antagonism and contradictions there is a Baloch liberalism and heterogeneity, which had always been in the history a symbol of peace and adjustment, would never be adjustable to Pakistani arrangements. Moreover, as seen by Paul Kennedy and Dr. Briezinski, the world of 21st century requires implementation of U.N. decisions. Do we believe that Pakistani State is in a position to implement U.N. decisions? Both the experts believed that in 21st century only national states would be able to implement UN decisions. Baloch nation hood and heterogeneity are beyond any doubt. Peace and prosperity in the region lies in determining Baloch identity and aspirations. BNS


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