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The camel’s lip

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Sardar Raisani deludes himself so often that it is difficult to take him seriously at all. He overlooks the fact that when even his orders regarding provincial matters are dismissively countermanded, how can he offer services as an independent entity to NATO and the ISAF?

Sardar Raisani deludes himself so often that it is difficult to take him seriously at all. He overlooks the fact that when even his orders regarding provincial matters are dismissively countermanded, how can he offer services as an independent entity to NATO and the ISAF?

I presume all must have noticed that the camel’s lower lip hangs precariously as if it is about to fall off, especially when the camel walks or runs. There is a Balochi fable that a hungry jackal noticed a camel’s perilously perched lip, which he gratuitously thought would fall off. He followed him continuously and whenever the camel moved quickly his belief was reaffirmed. He died following the mirage of an ‘about to fall off lip’.

This analogy of the camel’s hazardously perched lip and jackal fits perfectly with Sardar Mohammad Aslam Raisani’s expectations of the anticipated largesse from the Centre for sustaining Balochistan. On October 3, he blasted the Centre for not providing funds for the flood-affected people in the province. He expressed concern over delay in restoration of basic infrastructure damaged by floods and torrential rains, lamenting that links between Balochistan and other parts of the country remained cut off. He accused the federal government of ignoring the flood-affected people. According to him, the provincial government had allocated Rs 1 billion for distribution among the affected people and was waiting for the Centre’s Rs 1 billion grant. His government, he claimed, had spent Rs 400 million on providing tents, etc, while the Centre had contributed only Rs 50 million.

Sardar Aslam Raisani very recently headed a delegation of his coalition partners’ parliamentary leaders to discuss his province’s problems with the prime minister in Islamabad. Talking to newsmen there, he said that he was disappointed by Islamabad’s “indifferent attitude towards Balochistan’s problems”, adding that he and his cabinet members had made several visits to Islamabad to apprise senior officials of the problems but to no avail. He complained that on numerous occasions he had informed the president and the prime minister of the problems and subsequently directives were issued, but to date the problems remained unresolved. Apparently, even the insight and will to understand the aspirations and needs of their collaborators is severely lacking in Islamabad’s government. They pay only lip service, pun intended, to Balochistan’s problems.

Whenever the jackal makes sounds and gestures of giving up, the lip is vigorously shaken with promises, packages and awards to keep alive his hopes. The camel (read Centre) shakes the lip just enough to keep Raisani enamoured of it. Though I have referred to Raisani alone in the analogy, but to single him out for criticism would be patently unjust because all the past governments with the exception of the Ataullah Mengal’s government have been guilty of being the greedy and thoughtless jackal.

Recently, Raisani in an unprecedented letter to the president and premier pleaded for convening a high-level meeting for finalising the decision over implementation of the Reko Diq project. Remarkably, in December 2009, the Balochistan government had unanimously decided to cancel the agreement with Tethyan for exploration of copper, gold and other related minerals in an area of around 3.35 million acres in Reko Diq; it had also decided not to lease out the land to the company for further work. But that unanimous decision was given the respect that the Centre reserves specially for Balochistan and it was unsympathetically and brusquely brushed aside. The clout-wielding Tethyan Copper Company is held jointly (50:50) by the influential Barrick Gold Corporation and Antofagasta Minerals.

An environmental disaster hit Kolontar in Hungary last week when the toxic sludge reservoir of Ajka alumina plant burst. A similar disaster is feared at Saindak where the Amolaf village is threatened by the toxic sludge reservoir there. Naturally, the sludge dam at Reko Diq would be bigger and would threaten the people and environment proportionally.

Sardar Raisani deludes himself so often that it is difficult to take him seriously at all. In a meeting on October 13 with Charles Sattorini, the military attaché of the British High Commission, he offered the use of Gwadar port to NATO and ISAF. He claimed that despite limited resources, they were trying to provide security to NATO and ISAF vehicles and further suggested that if they trained and equipped Balochistan police and levies personnel, vehicles’ security could improve.

He overlooks the fact that when even his orders regarding provincial matters are dismissively countermanded, how can he offer services as an independent entity to NATO and the ISAF? Moreover, even if the Centre, for its own reasons, looks benevolently upon his offer, he seems oblivious of the implications thereof. With the security situation as it stands, the Taliban will have a field day. Then, maybe, this is exactly what they are aiming for, irretrievably embroiling Balochistan in the Afghan war and thereby undermining the nationalist struggle. He should realise that NATO plus the ISAF camel’s lip is even harder to get, as they are always more interested in their pound of flesh. Furthermore, this camel has the bad, bad habit of staying put unless the tent is Somalia or Lebanon.

Two BNP-A ministers in the Balochistan Assembly walked out in protest on Thursday when the Speaker, Aslam Bhootani, asking them to raise the issue in a cabinet meeting, refused to allow them to speak on the military operation being carried out in Balochistan’s Mashkay Tehsil in Awaran District by about 800 security personnel to neutralise Dr Allah Nazar who operates in central Balochistan and the coastal region. In his hometown Moee, his family and neighbours have been harassed.

Agriculture Minister Asad Baloch later speaking to newsmen said that nearly all the assembly members were cabinet members, therefore, they should raise the issue in the assembly. He added that the federal government did not seem to care about the province’s critical issues and even the chief minister had admitted in the house that no one in the federal capital listened to him. He said helicopters had bombarded the area and security forces had launched a massive search operation there. He said search of houses and humiliation of people could not be tolerated.

The Mashkay operation conclusively proves that the ‘about to fall off lip’ is just window-dressing and that, in fact, the camel’s teeth are the real thing; they can bite, maul and abduct people at will. Those who want to continue to delude themselves with the myth of the falling lip are free to do so, but they would do well to remember that it is the Baloch people who are paying the price for these patently false and misleading hopes that their attitudes promote and nurture in the minds of people.

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at mmatalpur@gmail.com

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