From Facebook statuses to Twitter tweets and from online blogs to statements by secessionists Baloch leaders published in Pakistani newspapers, I am perturbed to see the comparison of Balochistan to Kashmir. The innuendos of familiarity of the word plebiscite and self determination and how every Pakistani knows it well due to its position on Kashmir is not only unwarranted but also inaccurate.
Yes there is a war in Balochistan and a very dirty one indeed, it reeks of stench as foul as the Holocaust and is soaked in innocent blood. However, to compare Balochistan with Kashmir or Pakistan with India on the matter is a gross injustice to people of Pakistan and a twisting of facts.
Missing Persons in Balochistan
Kashmir versus Balochistan: Self determination!
Baloch secessionist leaders have been repeatedly claiming on forums that their lands were illegally annexed by Pakistan. They had a functioning assembly and a country with a flag until 1948 when Pakistani forces entered and gained control through sheer use of force and military might.
May I suggest all Baloch leaders to review their history books? Dominion of Pakistan and Union of India were successor to the dominion of British India. Yes indeed many princely states particularly Hyderabad and Kashmir pleaded with the British to grant them a third option of independence, this however was turned down leaving the states to chose between Pakistan and India. The current province of Balochistan comprised of six territories at the time of independence of Balochistan:
- Baluchistan province: This consists northern area of modern day Baluchistan including Quetta, Zhob, areas of Marri and Bugti tribe, Chagai and others
- Princely state of Kalat
- Princely state of Makran
- Princely state of Lasbela
- Princely state of Kharan
- Omani ruled areas of Gwadar purchased by Pakistan in 1958
The British province of Baluchistan did not declare independence, while the princely states declared independence under the leadership of Khan of Kalat. This unilateral independence however, was a violation of the treaties between respective states and British Raj and Pakistan being successor to the treaties.
One cannot propose the Khan of Kalat signed the accession papers out of sheer goodwill. However, a military invasion did not take place and the accession terms were agreed after negotiations giving the princely state a status akin to that of princely state in the days of Raj. One must not forget that the relations between the Quaid and Khan remained congenial till death.
This is all in contrast to Kashmir where there was an uprising against the ruler, one fourth of the territories had already seceded from the state of Kashmir prior to partition and though remained unrecognized by the British government they later joined Pakistan and became Gilgit-Baltistan. The question of self determination remained within the norms of its treaties with British Raj. The third option of independence is still a subject of debate including the Pakistani support for a third option which is shaky at best.
Pakistan is not India!
Also equally perturbing is the constant comparison between Pakistan and India vis a vis their stance on Balochistan and Kashmir. As above this could not be further from the truth.
I concede to every argument Balochs make about occupation of resources, murder of innocent civilians and their genuine grievances, not unlike that of East Bengal. But despite the establishment’s control of media and the country in general, op-eds have flooded the national dailies while talk shows have focused on Balochistan. Unlike India, the President has apologized for the atrocities committed and unlike India many cases have been withdrawn. The people of Pakistan through their elected representatives are doing what they can to address the issue, however, they are as Shaheed Benazir once said, ‘in government but not (or with little) in power’.
There is not one Arundhati Roy writing relentlessly in the face of barrage of criticism and allegations of treason here, there are many raising their voices against the gross violation of human rights. Unlike India where a democratically elected civilian government orders military action our weak civilian government is doing what it can to address the issue, largely unsuccessful in face of the power of the deep State.
Pakistani public has learned well from the mistakes of 1971 and there is not a single person outside the two towers of Potohar who denies the extortion of Baloch resources at the hands of Pakistani state. The arrogance that reverberated in the statements by Pakistani generals, politicians and journalists preceding fall of Dhaka has been replaced with apologies and reconciliation to the greater extent.
All main stream parties have called on the executive authority to reign in the military establishment and put an end to the human rights violations while such vigor remains absent from Indian politicians on their stances on Kashmir.
Balochs and Kashmiris are Pakistanis and our hearts shall continue to beat together. We have fought many a wars and dictators together and whenever Pakistanis have spoken through their elected representatives the Baloch will find that the legitimate rulers of this country are with them. To a more prosperous and just Pakistan, we march to war the demon within (or Pindi)!