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Angry Baloch people

Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

Only collaborators can present eulogies and excuses in return for the increasing number of dead bodies of educated Baloch youth being dumped daily

Governor Zulfiqar Magsi on March 23, during an award distribution ceremony, said that he does not see any progress in talks with “angry Baloch people”, who are engaged in a struggle for their rights. He said that if any progress were made, the situation in the province would have seen positive changes. He said if any action had been taken for the fulfillment of the demands of the Baloch earlier, the situation of the province would have been much better. He advised, “We should wait for the next general elections so that a new leadership comes and makes efforts to normalise the situation.”

People in power presume that administrative measures, of which elections too are an integral part, are the panacea of all that ails this place. The Baloch people have lost faith in elections and packages that they see as subterfuges to deceive them. They do not need any further convincing because the now daily kidnapping and killing of Baloch youth and the denial of economic and political rights since 1947, regardless of who is in power, has been a harsh unembellished reality facing them.

Moreover, the angry Baloch people, supposing they decide to talk, do not know who they should be talking to. The entire political leadership — the governor, the chief minister and the Balochistan Assembly — have abdicated their authority to the Frontier Corps (FC) and other agencies of the armed forces, and expecting angry Baloch people to seek and expect redress from the FC is like expecting berries from acacia trees. No, I am not jumping to conclusions about the FC running the show in Balochistan; the chief minister and the assembly speaker have said on record that the FC is running a “parallel government”.

The governor himself two years back, in April 2009, said that the situation had worsened because the federal government had ignored the province’s problems. People, he said, were justified in criticising the provincial government and politicians because the federal government never listened to anyone including him. “Although I am a representative of the Centre, I was never taken into confidence by Islamabad on the Balochistan issue.” He had conceded that atrocities were being committed against the people of Balochistan and should be stopped by the Centre otherwise the situation would go out of control. Apparently, his grievances went unnoticed as conditions have worsened since.

He was also convinced that the province’s problems were not because of Nawabs and Sardars or the Baloch tribal system, that the demands of Baloch leaders and politicians were genuine and the government must meet them, adding, “If these small problems are not solved amicably today, these will turn into big ones and eventually lead to disintegration.” Prophetic words indeed!

He had promised a new inquiry tribunal into the April 3 killing of Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Muneer Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch in Turbat but nothing came of that or other similar promises. So who should the angry Baloch people trust or talk to?

Ten weeks have passed since the judicial commission on disappearances submitted its report. It had proposed to the government and the Supreme Court (SC) that the intelligence agencies be restrained from arbitrarily arresting and detaining anyone without due process of law, but instead of any steps being taken to implement the proposals, the policy of kidnap, kill and dump has spun out of control.

On March 22, the bullet-riddled and severely tortured body of Hameed Shaheen, former Chairman of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO), was discovered in Quetta’s Sariab area. He had been abducted by the intelligence agencies two days earlier while on his way to Karachi. The timing of the bodies of Baloch victims being dumped are not random; this was a day before Pakistan Day.

The politicians have relegated all authority to the FC, the intelligence agencies and the army, and are satisfied with presenting themselves as sidekicks to add respectability to events and projects that are run by the former. After surrendering their rights over economic, political and educational affairs, they have also surrendered cultural events like melas (fairs) too; the Balochistan Mela was ostentatiously arranged by the FC, claiming to promote peace and brotherhood in the province.

Angry Baloch people cannot comprehend how peace and amity can be ushered in by those responsible for atrocities. The erstwhile Prime Minister, Zafarullah Jamali, Governor Zulfiqar Magsi and other luminaries visited the mela to be in the good books of the organisers. Governor Magsi demanded an end to disruption and termed the elements involved in subversive acts as unwise, saying that they were damaging themselves by blowing up government installations. Sadly this, he thought, was the right forum for him to make this demand.

Does the governor expect the angry Baloch people to shower flower petals on their tormentors? Except for hurting in return those who are hell bent on hurting them, they should not expect any other reaction from the angry Baloch people. Only collaborators can present eulogies and excuses in return for the increasing number of dead bodies of educated Baloch youth being dumped daily.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons has held a token hunger strike outside the Quetta Press club for several months; they have now decided to take their protest to Islamabad. The rulers and the establishment, who have not been able to hear the billion decibel loud voice of feelings of anger, agony and angst of the families of missing Baloch and other persons, will surely remain forever deaf to their sufferings.

The rising numbers of angry Baloch people have prompted desperate measures from the state. Qambar Chakar, Abdul Qayyum, Faiz Mohammad Marri, Zaman Khan Marri, Mehboob Wadhela — the list could go on and on — were all picked up by the FC and intelligence agencies in full view of the public and later their tortured bodies were dumped. Yet the governor expects the Baloch to not be angry. The numbers of angry Baloch keep rising in spite of, and because of, these atrocities.

The angry Baloch people hold the state responsible for all their woes. Elections and packages will not convince them that the state intends to give them their rights. The Baloch have every right to be angry because it is not some rogue agency, or rogue elements within institutions responsible for the atrocities. These atrocities are an integral part of state policy being systematically employed against the Baloch to deprive them of their rights and to usurp their resources and land for others.

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