Before I express my condolences for the murder of Rationalism within the Baloch Community and martyrdom of ‘realization’ from the rest of the Pakistani society, I would like to share some relevant information about our insensitivities as Pakistanis. So much for the Aman ki Asha program aimed to build intra-cultural relationship with the neighboring India, one wonders why such a program is not launched to build strong bonds within the country first?
What does a student from LUMS University Lahore knows about a student from Bolan Medical College? What are the political views of Peshawar University students and how do Karachi University students perceive certain political issues in the country? The lack of communication among the youth of Pakistan should be more concerning than the so called bridging the gap between Pakistan and her neighbors, as ‘charity begins at home’, isn’t it?
That is why I call it a martyrdom of ‘realization’; because the way I see it, there is yet to be an effort, not necessarily expected from the government but from the private sector, to bridge communicational and geographical differences within Pakistan. And this absence of realization is simply causing enough vacuum, which is being filled with something not healthy for Pakistan’s national unity. Also, what we see now is an increasing number of challenges from Sub-Nationalism in the Balochistan province.
My observation, after living in such an environment, is that the insurgency in Balochistan is not big enough to literally threaten an East Pakistan like consequence, which was due to our weaknesses both politically and militarily; but they are strong enough to keep the condition chaotic and anarchic in the entire province. There are three major elements of this insurgency; brainwashing campaigns, armed struggle, and sufficient funds to carry on that armed struggle. But I am going to speak about the mother of all problems – the brainwashing campaigns.
Effective Brainwashing Campaigns;
Both on the provincial and the national level; for example, other parts of the country are injected with the disinformation that the ongoing struggle is for their basic rights, as if there are enough rights in interior Sindh, Punjab, KPK and FATA; while on the provincial level, the brainwashing is extremely effective, where the masses are fed with the fairy tales of Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan. Let me remind you that in Balochistan, they don’t even use the term “forceful annexation”, which is unfairly propagated on the national television screens of Pakistan, but rather, in the province it is even worse. This is carried out by various different methods; there are anti-Pakistan books, easily available in cities and districts of Balochistan, which support the enemy’s narration of history. The domestic newspapers and political seminars, by using the banner of Baloch Students Organization-Azad, are extremely lethal in manufacturing hardcore militants out of hatred for Pakistan.
Imagine, if you are convinced, since your birth that you are occupied, your land is snatched away and almost all the bad things that you view are due to this particular country, most likely, you won’t accept the slavery, would you? Same is the case with most of the people of Balochistan, who don’t have access to the Internet, who don’t have any alternate information which could convince them that Pakistan is their home. It is such a pity for any country to not have the state’s narration of history; of course there is a more logical and authentic state narration about Balochistan’s history, but it is almost non-existent on the surface. Even those who are able to watch television channels find the same narration of the enemy being delivered by so called prominent journalists, and this keeps them intact to the anti-State version of history. See a few examples of these innocent young angels who are being indoctrinated with hatred for the state from a tender age.
This girl is holding a calendar, what they term as “Shuhada’s Calendar”, listed with the names of some famous anti-Pakistan BLA sympathizers. These Calendars are largely available in Quetta. Which country allows such anti-state material to be openly exposed to her population?
This is another example of the child brainwashing campaign, publically launched in 2006 by BSO-Azad, Chapter Khuzdar, where the Baloch separatists came to the conclusion that an active propaganda campaign must be launched to brainwash the minor children, in order to prepare a generation that is anti-Pakistan. This has met lots of success, not because of their propagative tools but simply because of the absence of any counter narrative. This is where I see that the awareness campaign in Balochistan is more important than anything else. It would be wrong to say that almost every child has been convinced to hate the country, because we still have an overwhelming majority of sane elements in Balochistan who are resisting this menace on their own, but they are surely waiting for the state to practically step in to stop these activities.
People who are being convinced by this horrifying propaganda are now seeing Balochistan as a country, not as a province. This is another challenge for the state – to break this perception and define ‘what a province is’. It has come to a point that even national political parties give a picture that Balochistan is a country and not a province; they don’t say it, but they simply go with the flow without contradicting the militant ideology whenever they hold any political seminar. They start with the slogans of Balochistan Zindabad, and they end it with the same slogan, without mentioning Pakistan anywhere, and I have personally seen the JUIF and the PPP do this a number of times. There comes a point when people are forced to think that maybe Pakistan has abandoned its own people, which is obviously not true, but the state has definitely become more insensitive and indifferent towards this grave issue.
The brainwashing campaign has many ingredients, such as the unemployment and inflation which are cashed in the militant struggle by the propagators. Other elements are; not enough education infrastructure, even the places where you have infrastructure are extremely poor, so that the militants start comparing it to the top level universities in Punjab and Karachi, hence, this comparison helps to fuel up more fire. All these elements that contribute to manufacture militants and hatred for the state are actually very little compared to the major element which I have previously discussed; and that is the very narration of history, which asserts that Pakistan has occupied Balochistan and that the Baloch identity is in trouble by associating it with Pakistani identity. This alone is enough for spawning the hate mongers.
Considering my personal experience, my observation of the situation and with all my research and knowledge I can say with complete confidence that this brainwashing campaign is more powerful than the armed struggle itself. Baloch nationalism, like any other nationalism, is fueled up with nationalistic mythologies consisting of extreme exaggeration of past rulers and warriors. You will be surprised to know that one of their usual propaganda to children is that one Baloch is equally powerful to 11 Pakistanis; and you will be more shocked to know that in their texts as well as verbal propagation, they even prohibit people to eat “daal” which they refer to as a Punjabi recipe, and I have personally witnessed it. In such a hateful environment that is designed by a bunch of sub-nationalists, it is shameful for all those Pakistani intellectuals who are not doing just enough to counter this home grown monster, which I see as a Frankenstein created by this senseless nationalism, which is in turn killing innocent people; because the way I see it, not even the Baloch are now safe from these ethnic militants.
Maula Bakhsh Baloch from National Party and Ghulam Mohammed Baloch from Baloch National Front Party are two huge examples of those who were killed by the same groups over petty disagreements. For now, it is irrelevant to discuss the destruction, as the monster is already created, and this monster is an ideology that is based on sub-nationalism and hatred and stands opposed to Pakistan’s ideology based on Islamic nationalism. For the victims of such brainwashing campaigns, Pakistan is just any other foreign country that has invaded their land; they are designed as secular in nature, because the intelligent propagators know that the only thing which undermines Pakistan’s existence and that can make the people see it entirely differently is the strange mixture of secular Marxism/Communism. It is important to know that many Baloch militants drive their inspiration from Communism.
How successful are these propagandists so far? The answer is simple; they are successful enough to peacefully carry out hate preaching, which transforms into violence later on. They are successful enough to undermine the entire country openly in public forums, including schools and colleges. Just see the shocking examples of their success.
They have successfully convinced a certain segment of people (not majority) that Pakistan is an alien country, and that their Baloch identity is contrary to Pakistani identity; for this they had, in the 1980s, designed a so called National Flag of Balochistan, which is now also the flag of the Balochistan government in exile. This move to launch a flag of their own to symbolize their struggle was a very significant move, but what was even more strange is the Indian involvement even in reshaping the Baloch nationalism. Let me remind you – India has not just aided the Baloch separatist militancy, but also had a part in shaping Baloch nationalism, by directing their stooges such as Khair Bakhsh Marri in the 70s and 80s. When Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front was gaining momentum in Kashmir – an indigenous Kashmiri party that seeks Kashmir’s independence from India based on Kashmiri nationalism; the Indians decided to discredit Pakistan with the help of their proxies in Balochistan, in order to distract her focus from Kashmir to her western border. Many RAW officials met Baloch separatist leaders in Afghanistan, and designed a flag for Balochistan People’s Liberation Front (BPLF) – a militant separatist organization of the 70s, headed by Khair Bakhsh Marri, and this flag resembles that of Maqbool Bhat’s JKLF of Kashmir. See the similarities.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’sFlag (1977)
This was an attempt by the Indians to distract Pakistan’s focus from Kashmir to its eastern borders, so that India continues her brutalities on the Kashmiris with maximum comfort; and the intention of such a flag was to gather all the disintegrated Baloch separatist groups under one umbrella of their cause.
The Role of India didn’t stop there. I noticed another strange similarity between the current BLA flag with the flag of the Popular Front of India, which consists of Muslims who were blamed by the Kerala state government, once in 2006, to spread communal hatred.
I do not know whether I should call it a coincidence or a part of Indian involvement, but there are many signs in the Baloch nationalist struggle which seem to be designed by Indians. Even their so called revolutionary songs consist of the lyrics of Indian revolutionary songs – produced for Bollywood movies themed on the colonial rule in the subcontinent – translated into Balochi language. I was surprised to witness many Azadi songs of Hindi movies being used in Baloch Students Organization Seminars.
These minor successes of Baloch separatists are enough to keep an anti-state environment alive, without any interruption from the state itself. No one is there to stop them, because if anyone dares to express his difference of opinion from these nationalist groups, he or she will no longer be alive after that. Many Balochs are victims of these nationalist groups.
Flags were just one chapter, which they have opened to symbolize their nationalism against Pakistan; the other chapter is the so called National Anthem of Balochistan. This is hilariously strange, that a cultural song sung by Yasmin Baloch from Sindh in the 80s would be adopted as a national anthem by a group of people, and that too without the consent of Yasmin Baloch. However, this beautiful cultural song – ma chuke balochani (We are the sons of Baloch), that simply speaks about Baloch history and culture, is being misused against the Pakistani state, where nationalists are programing the children to oppose the Pakistan national anthem in order to sing their own.
All is not under the control of the Baloch separatist groups, despite the state’s indifference to their propaganda. There is still an overwhelming majority of Balochs who not only believe in Pakistan, but also know the difference between right and wrong. They are not secular as they are projected by the separatist leaders. Their entire family structure is based on Islamic principles. They just want the Pakistani state to step into Balochistan and counter the propaganda, to save their lives from these nationalistic bigots.
It is not difficult to win this war, but it is a question of political will. It is a question of spreading awareness; Pakistanis in particular need to participate and try to discredit senseless historical narrative, even if delivered by the likes of Hamid Mir, who reads a BSO-Azad pamphlet and shows up to deliver the speech on its history. We need to aggressively stop them because this is harmful; I retreat that this is not the war of rights, of course the sense of deprivation is there, but it is present everywhere in Pakistan. In Balochistan, it is the question of identity. People need to be convinced that there is a concept of the multi-cultural state. They need to be told that being a Pakistani doesn’t compromise their ethnic identity and culture. There is an aggressive campaign also on the social media, particularly by the Balochs from the Middle East and the Gulf states who are not accepted by the Arab society, and now they are shown this green grass of a free country of their own in South East Asia; so they are the major propagandists and even fund raisers for the terror outfits, simply because they are desperate for a separate identity.
All we need to do is to own the Baloch culture. Just keep this in your heart that you have to own the Baloch and Balochistan culturally; and the moment you do this, I promise you that the separatists will meet an immediate defeat. Their only weapon is to create a sense of alienation from the rest of Pakistan. Their weapon is to make the Baloch see Pakistan as a completely different country; imagine if the Pakistanis start singing patriotic national songs in Balochi; imagine if the Pakistanis promote Balochi traditional dresses and food in different parts of the country; imagine if the Pakistanis are able to convince them that being a Pakistani Baloch is very much possible; then I am very much sure that we will win this war and all these fake flags will be thrown down the drain.
Like I said in the beginning, the Balochs have inherited love for their cultural identity, and if the Pakistanis own it, then they, too, will be able to own the rest of the country. Otherwise, this brain poisoning will continue to breed violence and hatred for the state. The government may have abandoned them, but the people should not. Many journalists are playing the role of prostitutes by selling their integrity for some petty materialistic means, so don’t follow them. All we need for now is a strong state’s narrative of Balochistan’s history being aggressively propagated on every level, and to own all the cultures of our great country; secondly, to support the idea of using force against the separatists and propagandists; no state tolerates such a nonsense, then why should we? Combined efforts of the society and the military can eradicate them completely.