You might have read articles loaded with history of Balochistan and critically acclaimed celebrities (read politician as that is my idea of them) jabbing about it. However a laymen’s perspective that too of those living abroad has never been discussed.
In the recent years while the world has its eyes glued to the fight against Taliban, one of our provinces continues to suffer ruthlessly. However, call it my socialistic attitude or what you may but apart from the army and establishment (which one can hardly differentiate between) I have great disliking for the influential clans and Sardars maintaining their hierarchy in the land which has been awarded to them in time immemorial.
To add to the misery in my poor knowledge, Balochistan is the only province that also has the largest number of “missing people” and the internally displaced persons (IDPs). These disappeared people have either been picked up by the agencies or farishtas as we locally term them in our jargon or have ceased to live owing to some dark magic happening there, which surprisingly never happens to any other province.
While the heated debate on separatist movement in the province continues, the scribe tried to find out from Pakistanis living abroad what they think is the solution to the problem at hand and why the people in Balochistan demand separation from the country. Although a Pakistani ex-colleague of mine had always been against the Baloch movement, the two Pakistanis that I chose to speak to, have no such notion. Both of them have been to Balochistan.
Adnan, associated with a German media group and well-informed with what is happening in Pakistan on all the fronts, pins lack of facilities for the common man to be sole the reason for it. Adnan describes first his visit to Balochistan as strange. “I have been to Balochistan and I have seen the worst of it. He opines that the divide between the pro and anti-Pakistan people is the reason why the government’s relief package for the province has been outrightly refused. This is also why he thinks that many people (read non-Baloch or non Pashtun) find it difficult to survive there.
There has been noticeably anti-Pakistan sentiment among the Baloch seen over the years but it had never been as stark as it got after Nawab Akber Bugti, ex-governor and chief minister, was bombarded to death on August 26, 2006 on the instructions of former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf.
For Adnan lack of education and jobs for the local Baloch has pushed the common man far beyond the limit.
On the other hand, Zubair, a matriculate working at a pizza outlet, has hardly any tab on the news and what’s happening lately. But as far as he knows from his visit to Balochistan, “Things are not going right,” he confirms. Although Zubair claims that he hardly knows anything about Balochistan, he admits having witnessed immense poverty crawling everywhere in the country’s largest province that accounts for 43% of Pakistan’s total land.
No roads; hardly any doctors in the remote areas and no basic facilities of life: That is Balochistan. “Everything is in chaos” he opines. He blames influential clans for it and says that they, along with the Pakistani government, are responsible for keeping this province in doldrums.
“If I try to nail the basic problem in Balochistan, I would say that it is supply of safe water and electricity. Can you imagine that the province so rich in resources has no supply of clean drinking water for the people living there?” asks Zubair. He jokingly suggests the solution to all the trouble would be to chose him as the president and leave all the politicians out of it. For him, if the government cannot provide the people living there with their demands then the people are justified demanding independence.
While these men hope to see a brighter and more prosperous Balochistan, the common man in Balochistan still awaits life as it should be.
(Meera Jamal, who previously worked for Pakistan’s leading English language newspaper, Dawn, lives in Germany)