Balochistan, the forgotten land

With reference to its geographical history, “The concept of Balochistan as a nation-state was formed in 1410. Stretching till Iran to the West and Afghanistan to the North, it was an independent country before the British attacked and annexed it in 1839. Then it was British who arbitrarily sliced Balochistan into three pieces – Northern Balochistan, Western Balochistan, and Eastern Balochistan through two artificial borders-the Goldsmith Line (1871) and the Durand Line (1895). Northern Balochistan and Western Balochistan were given to Iran and Afghanistan respectively, while Eastern Balochistan, now a part of Pakistan, remained independent and maintained treaty relations with the British (First post, August 20, 2016). Till 1947 the British stayed in Eastern Balochistan and at the time of their departure they recognized Balochistan as an independent state.” – South Asia Journal.

To begin with, after the success of the indigenous people of Hindustan in successfully breaking the shackles of British Raj; all princely states were given the choice of joining either of the two states or stay independent. Balochistan and Nepal both chose the rarely picked option of seeking independence. However, unlike Nepal, Balochistan wasn’t given much of a choice. The central authority of Balochistan along with its masses demanded the nation’s sovereign independence as a state. To their misfortune, Balochistan became a part of Pakistan, the holy land.

 

To the people’s surprise, this was just the beginning of what was to become an eternity of misery. When military dictatorship was at its peak in the 1950s, the years in which the country was to be ruled by several different tyrants in its young history; some Balochi tribesmen, headed by Nawab Nauroze Khan, took up arms in resistance to the one-unit policy. They were met with stiff persecution and the leader died in captivity. What might be called an era of eternal crackdown on Balochistan had begun.

Quiet expectedly, in the following years; series of insurgencies began in the country which were to be known as the ‘Baloch separatist movements’. The Baloch people rose up to what they thought was injustice by the state, the establishment deceived Balochistan into a false promise to a high degree of provincial autonomy, this was not acted upon constitutionally. The rebellion movements in the 1950-60 were with reference to the 1956 constitution which limited provincial autonomy by an exponential degree. This led to a huge conflict between the two parties in which both the state and the Baloch rebellions suffered heavy losses. Thus, a ceasefire was agreed to in 1969.

 

However, the coming years were to be harder for the young country. After losing one of its wings to political inefficiency, injustice and rebellions; the establishment decided to tighten its grip on her provinces and not to tread any ‘rebellions’ lightly. Consequently, after the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto felt that the Baloch people were conspiring another ‘mutiny’ to escape Pakistan’s shadow. Being paranoid, Bhutto ordered dissolution of the province’s assembly; little did he know that this was to be one of his biggest political blunders that bring about his downfall.

Mr. Bhutto ordered the ‘butcher of Bengal’, General Tikka Khan, to teach the Balochs a ‘lesson’. And so he did, thousands of Balochs died at the hands of the Pakistani Army lead by General Tikka Khan, now known as the butcher of Balochistan as well. Bhutto had become the very thing he had once hated.

 

Khair Bux Marri, the leader of the Balochi Marri tribe said “Bhutto was no different from Hitler.” – Fatima Bhutto, Songs of blood and sword. When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto wanted to stop the massacre, it was too late. The military had once again strengthened itself after its failure in Bengal. Civilian rule was once again a useless puppet in the government show.

 

To conclude what I believe has been a harsh timeline for Balochistan, I must add that the Balochistan still suffers at the hands of the Pakistani establishment. Sometimes in the name of CPEC and sometimes in the name of another ‘development programme’, The Baloch people have been deprived of their basic human right to education, clean water and justice, to name a few. This tyranny will not end until the people of Pakistan stand up together in solidarity with the indigenous loving people of Balochistan. Long live Pakistan!

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