Friday, February 24, 2012

A Patriot's View of Balochistan

My opinion is that of a Patriot and a Nationalist. "Patriots" being those who support their country and are willing to defend it, and “Nationalists” who advocate for political freedom for their country. The key word being “Country,” not “Province,” or “City,” or “Region”….a Country!

I have always felt that Baluchistan was at the wrong end of Pakistan. Always neglected, always a step behind, and always the butt-end of jokes. But it ambled on at its own leisurely pace. It gained a reputation of beauty. Of mystery. Of riches beyond belief. There were a lot of things wrong, but there were also a lot of things right. Yes, there was Sardari Nizaam, there were ungoverned areas, and there were violations of human rights and civil liberties. But awareness was growing. There was hope. People left their comfort zones for the first time and were sending their children to schools. First generations of many tribal families were going to college. People were looking toward Baluchistan for investment opportunities. It was never perfect, but it was happy and peaceful -- until twenty odd years ago, when it took a turn for the worst and this unassuming Dr. Jekyll became a raving, maniacal Mr. Hyde.

The Powers That Be took a good long look and then turned to their associates and said, "Hmmm, interesting…now how can we exploit it further?!” To the rest of the country, they said, "Tsk, tsk…we must do something. Let’s fix Baluchistan.”  And nobody looked inwards and asked, "Why did it get broken in the first place? Was it not worth protecting from the hoards of killers and looters that poured unfettered over its borders? Were its people not precious?”

And then came the much touted and anticipated “Balochistan Pack” in 2009. It was called “Aghaaz-e-Huqooq,” or "The Beginning of Rights." Not the “protection” of huqooq, not the “enhancement” of huqooq, but the “aghaaz” of huqooq! Well! It's about time! After all, it has just been 100,000 years since man started walking the earth. And I really don’t want anybody to feel rushed. Please, take your time. Balochistan has waited this long…it can wait a little  more.

Then you start to read the preamble and words like “conscious,” “acknowledge,” “mindful,’’ and “determined” jump off the page and you start feeling a resurgence of hope. You go on and read the 61 proposals and they read like a fairy tale. You think to yourself, "This will empower my country. Baluchistan is going to be awesome. Its borders will be secure. It will be able to utilize its resources. It will have dams and fertile lands. The people will be prosperous and the country will thrive along with it!"

Two years go by and we play the Rabbani-Malik-Rabbani game. One step forward, two back. It's getting done...umm, no it's not…wait, yes, we are making progress…no, we are not. And then the Business Recorder in its Feb 11th edition states: “Establishment Division informed the Cabinet that out of the total 61 proposals, 45 have been implemented and remaining 16 are being implemented.” Really? Really?!

So which ones are they -- these proposals that have been implemented? Are they the secure borders? The dams? The highways? The electrical lines? Oh! It’s the one where the cases against the Baloch leaders are being withdrawn! Well, excuse me for being a little slow, but can someone explain it to me?

The way I see it, it can mean one of two things:

  1. False cases were filed against good people and they are being dismissed
  2. Horrible crimes are being ignored and criminals are being put back in charge.
If the first scenario is true, and false cases were filed, then my question is to the pride of Balochistan, the esteemed Chief Justice of Pakistan: what exactly is being done about this? This is a great injustice and must not go unpunished.

...But if the second scenario is true…then Allah help us all!