The Baloch Boycott

Apr 2013

English | اردو

This year, the Baloch sardars, including Akhtar Mengal, claim that they are ready to participate in the elections even if that means risking their lives. They claim to do this on the behalf of the Baloch. Such pretentions to representing the Baloch cause aside, Akhtar Mengal’s and other such political parties are facing stiff opposition from the majority of Baloch people—men as well as women.

First, it should be evident that it is unfair for the Pakistani people to call the Baloch issue a creation of the Baloch sardars because a majority of the them have been a step or two ahead of the Pakistani rulers in the socio-economic exploitation of the Baloch people. It is the Baloch themselves who are calling for a boycott.

A coalition of political parties under the banner of a united front for the liberation of  Balochistan, has called for a transportation and business strike from May 5th to May 11th The timing coincides with the likely date for the elections. The parties say that the Pakistani state is conducting military operations in the Baloch areas of Kohlu and Dera Bugti.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani national media has kept the Pakistani people unaware of the contemporary realities of the Baloch areas. Within Balochistan, the media also refuses to report on organizations that support the cause of Baloch liberation. The Pakistani state’s secret agencies have taken over all affairs in Balochistan. The civil government’s writ is not even in place in its own institutions and offices. For instance, the Panjgur and Kharan offices of the election commission were attacked by Baloch guerrillas. Perhaps, only such attacks can help people understand the gravity of the situation.

Some ‘experts’ label the Baloch issue as the “Baloch Question” while evading the question of land rights. Others rewrite history by pinning the origins of the issue on the Baloch sardars and nawabs. We cannot understand the issue as the “Baloch Question” because there are Pashtuns in Balochistan as well.

The Pashtuns of Balochistan, despite dwelling in their own lands, negotiate with the central government from within the framework of Pakistan. The state is not conducting any military operations within the Pashtun areas of Balochistan, whereas in the Baloch areas, mutilated corpses are a part of everyday life. Even more strangely, during the reign of the military chief Pervez Musharraf, abducted political activists were released after being forcibly disappeared for a few months. During the five-year rule of a democratically elected government however, only the corpses of Baloch politicians, student leaders and activists, are found, dumped on streets. It has become a routine practice that continues to the present.

After America’s defeat in Vietnam, journalists once asked an American general why the US destroyed whole villages in Vietnam. With hubris, he replied that in order to save the villages, we had to destroy them. That is what Pakistan does today, and that is why the Baloch are boycotting the elections.

Peerdan Baloch is a writer and activist.

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