Friday, November 18, 2016

THE SOCIAL ORIGINS OF THE BALOCH NATIONAL STRUGGLE

The Baloch struggle for national independence has its genesis in history and culture. Fiercely independent, the Baloch has never accepted hegemony and domination either by other tribes or by organized states in any stage of history. His periodic movements, apart from many other reasons came about because he never had to contend with a subordinate status. Tribal wars and jealousies, although they had their roots in economic competition, were also due to efforts by one tribe to gain supremacy over another, which were actively resisted. The Baloch was unsettled and preferred a nomadic life because in that he felt himself truly emancipated. During the Khanate, although Balochistan theoretically was supposed to be under Afghan hegemony, for all practical purposes various Khans of Kalat never accepted the Afghan over lordship. The war between Ahmed Shah Durrani and Mir Naseer Khan was primarily a contest on the question of Afghan sovereignty over Balochistan. Traditionally, when the Baloch feels that his liberty is threatened from any quarter, he will become restive. In individual acts of vengeance or in the collective removal of curbs on freedom, the Baloch always resorted to wars and hostilities. Peace or arbitration with the enemy would be impossible. Conciliation can he achieved/when palms can grow hair; the jackal becomes the guard of the chickens or the fowl; lions are grazed with the camels; cotton, becomes non-inflammatory; elephants are reduced to millet in size, and fish can live out of water’1. He will forego vengeance ‘when tamarisks grow spikes and snakes feet; lions ate domesticated and boats are run through sands; Sardars start the work of slaves and shepherds graze wolves’2. An enmity once started never easily subsided. Blood had to be paid in blood. ‘If stone could melt away in. waters then the spirit of revenge can be subdued. But neither can stones melt away nor can the spirit of revenge be extinguished in a Baloch heart. For two centuries it persists and remains smart like a young bear of tender age’3. He will treat the enemy in a manner a falcon does the pigeons; hot winds dry up small ponds; swine devastate millet crops; goats swallow up the branches of prosopis specigera; the wolf does with lambs and fisherman with river fishes’. Such cultural traits show a peculiar trend, a collective intellect. The role assigned for a Baloch in society is one of honor and freedom, not of subjugation and dependence. Therefore he places his loyalty in no one but himself and his people. The individual is above everything. He is always ready to defend his freedom as well as that of the tribe. The wish of a mother in her lullaby to her baby-son is that he should grow in the true tradition of freedom and that the tribal Chief should call him for war. Her advice to show exceptional courage:’ make use of your sword and bow and prove yourself a true Baloch, because the people await your feats of war as a sister has confidence in her brother or hopes for reunion with her remote family, and as a girl in love trusts her lover’5, is the proper manifestation of the cultural personality evolved out Of his independent nature. He believes in a constant battle with the forces of evil. This fight, as envisaged in Zoroastrian religion, is perpetual. The Zoroastrian outlook has clearly shaped his approach, which is still deep rooted. The Baloch never accepted alien domination. He was engaged in a constant struggle for tribal supremacy which usually resulted in~ wars, and migrations. He had a deep sense of national independence and a restive spirit of resistance to dominating forces. His extreme love for his homeland has been phenomenal. Once settled in a place, he never gave it up without fighting, and after migration from the area, the remembrance continued for centuries. Wahe Watan 0 Hushkien Dar, ‘the fatherland even barren is worth anything’, so goes the saying. This affection continued for generations. Many features of this creep into folk stories and literature. Folk traditions refer to the finest things of places once inhabited by the Baloch. Baloch poets and scholars never lagged behind in arousing social consciousness. The epic poetry of Rind-Lashar era or poetic references to previous tribal conflicts give a penetrating insight into national pride and an uncompromising attitude towards national freedom. Tribes settled in an area always made it a safe abode for themselves. It became their land, love and regard for which had the first priority. In tribal conflicts the main cause has been economic interests, ultimately identified with the area itself, and the love of the country was the prime objective. According to traditions, Beebagr, a folk hero, while carrying the daughter of one of the Afghan notables from Kandahar, very proudly mentions the Baloch land, Biroun Hamuda Ke Mulk Balochistan. This reflects a deep sense of pride and a lasting regard not only for the country but everything attached to it. Mir Chakar bewails the factors causing the migration of the Baloch from Sibi with ‘great sorrow, which shows his love for the land and his reluctance to give up the place. The Baloch who had moved out from Kirman and Seistan always kept the memory of the area fresh in their folk tales. We come across many stories, which indicate a sentimental regard for those regions where the Baloch once lived. Even mountains and rivers enjoyed lasting affections. Kohe Kaf, the Kaf Mountains, where the Baloch might have lived centuries earlier is mentioned in their folk stories with a feeling of profound love, which even a casual observer can feel. The British suzerainty over Balochistan affected a tremendous change in the social outlook. We find an element of scholarly warning against political inactivity. Mula Fazul, a nineteenth-century poet, chastises the Rind, the tribe to which he belonged, for giving up the traditional role of conquerors. In a famous poem in which he narrates with sortie exaggeration the exploits of the Rind in support of the Mughal emperors, Babar and Hamayun, he calls upon them to fight and conquer vast lands and maintain the independence of the Baloch country. The Bloch’s concept of protracted war against evil forces sets the ground for an enlightenment where fighting for a just cause becomes synonymous with nobility and honor. The same idea remained an influencing factor and was recapitulated in subsequent decades in Baloch poetry. While foreign domination had a considerable impact on the socio—political institutions, it intensified social consciousness in an unheard of way in the Baloch annals. The Martyrdom of Mir Mehrab Khan became a guiding • Spirit which in many ways helped to foster a spirit of resis­tance against the traditional opposition. Noora Mengal fur­thered the national cause. The year 1839 marks the beginn­ing of far-reaching changes in Baloch political history, but its social imperatives proved to be of greater magnitude. Mir Gul Khan Naseer (Politician, Scholar, Historian, Poet) 1914-1986. The poet-politician gave a new meanings and form to Balochi poetry. The concept of freedom and sovereignty were beautifully portrayed. He opposes Balochistan losing its independence. The degrading poverty .His poetry is the greatest manifestation and the most profound expression of the Baloch political and social approach since the early thirties .His exhortation to the Baloch to up hold their tradition is a clear sign of the deep-rooted hatred felt towards the new political dispensation. His poems soon turned to popular slogans and were the subject of discussion by the elite. Mir Gul Khan Naseer was the greatest revolutionary poet in Baloch literary history. His work embraced some fifty years of his life. He participated in the Baloch struggle for national independence and remained behind bars for several years from 1941 to 1979. He was a socialist by inclination and opposed the tribal system and its attendant injustices. His contribution to Baloch political awareness is overwhelming. Mir Gul Khan Naseer considered himself destined to guide the people towards social awareness and the achievement of their political rights. He assigned himself the task of educating the youth for the great cause for which he suffered immensely during his lifetime. He was uncompromising, honest and respectable. As far back as November 1936 he composed a poem praying that he might have courage and strength to awaken the people from ignorance, so that they would be able to find a proper place among world nations once again. The poem, which is in Urdu, shows his determination for a lifelong struggle in a cause, which was very close to his heart6. Mir Gul Khan Naseer is an institution in Balochi poetic history. His message is impressive. It circles round the Baloch and their history. His works portray a deep hatred for Pakistan and its institutions, which he regarded as corrupting and degenerating in substance and nature. The new generation of revolutionary poets has been greatly influenced by his philosophy. 1 have not attempted any translation of his work for the simple reason that none of his poems can be singled out for omission for the purposes of this chapter. A separate treatment would be required if Mir Gul Khan’s poetry were to be analyzed in the context of the Baloch national struggle and its impact on youth. Mir Gul Khan Naseer is the author of many books on Baloch history and traditions. His poetic work includes three books: Gul Bang, Shapgerouk and Grand, Gul bang, published in 1952, contains fifty-one poems. His second publication, Shapgerouk was printed in 1964. It includes forty-three poems. The Grand appeared in 1971 and contains some seventy poems. Mir Gul Khan had a prolific pen and a philosophical mind. His treatment of the Baloch social and traditional ethos depicts a high sense of history and culture. His poems describe the Baloch and their country in a true historic perspective. Mir Gul Khan was the product of agonizing socio-political conditions. He saw the British Raj in Balochistan, a brief period of Baloch sovereignty and ultimately Balochistan losing its independence and merging into a newborn state. British rule perfected a tribal system molded to the requirements of an alien rule, with the sardars exploiting the Baloch masses. The pre-independence era was also the period of the Khan’s oppressive rule with the connivance of his British masters. The short period of Baloch independence from August 1947 to’ March 1948 witnessed conspirational maneuvers against the Baloch, culminating in the merger of their state into Pakistan. The post—1948 years are the time of constant struggle to gain some sort of political and social rights. Mir Gul Khan Naseer participated actively in the process and his attitude was clearly shaped by these events. The periodic uprisings and deep discontent among the Baloch after 1948 are by no means an isolated phenomenon. It is fairly common in Balochi literature and folk traditions. Disapproval of the accession to Pakistan was widespread. The Khan is greatly hated. This hatred is widely depicted in folk literature as well as in poetry. To quote a single instance, a cartoon was carried by Balochi, (Karachi) in December 1957 showing the Khan of Kalat prostrate before the Pakistan authorities, asking for privileges. The cartoon is captioned” Dream, this is your luck. Our ‘Khan-e--Muazim’, do not dream for the power (and respect) of previous days” Since the ‘great betrayal the Baloch poet watches every event with distaste and expresses his resentment for the socio—political set—up. The opposition to the accession of the Khanate to Pakistan was upheld and his hero Abdul Kareem Khan, the brother of Khan of Kalat, Ahmed Yar Khan, is regarded as one of the great patriots. In 1958 came the first encounter with the Pakistan Army, when Mir’ Namrouz Khan and a few others revolted and took to the mountains. Apparently they were aggrieved because of the arrest of the Khan of Kalat by Pakistan’s army in a pre-dawn attack on his residence in Kalat on 6th October 1958; but the causes were deep down. Mir Namrouz Khan and his followers were clearly against the Khan’s decision to accede to Pakistan, and when the Khan showed a semblance of authority by demanding certain rights, they readily pledged their support. The Insurgency had, however, wider repercussions. Leadership of that uprising was in the hands of petty tribal notables, and in some cases they behaved in a manner prejudicial to their professed aims; still they were regarded as heroes by the masses. In certain places many people were harassed by elements claiming contacts with the Yaghis, the rebels, sometimes alienating people in the Makkuran region; but as a whole the people considered them the upholders of their pride and self—respect. Baloch literature during and after this period is full of praise for them. The pattern then changed, and the educated class played a greater role in 1973-77 uprising. This event hap been regarded as the beginning of the Baloch ‘Liberation Movement’. Every Baloch in all walks of life supported the ‘movement’, which was so popular with the people that the Pakistan government decided not to trust the local people and brought in on a massive scale, army officers seconded to the civil services, to hold the administrative assignments in the province. By 1975—76 almost every district head was an army officer or a civil servant from the Panjab and North West Frontier Province. Shaeed Dad Shah In Iranian Balochistan, the people were under tighter control, The Shah’s was an oppressive administration. But people like Dadshah, who is a folk hero for his fight against the Iranian Monarch in the fifties were given full praise by the minstrels and poets. In a long poem, Jan Muhammad Baloch mentions the exploits of Mir Dadshah and his determination and courage in fighting the Iranian troops. The poem starts with the statement that Dadshah was living peacefully in Nillag village until the Iranian interference. Aggrieved, Mir Dadshah took to the mountains and fought troops superior in arms and strength. The poem also narrates the bravery of his wife, Bibi Hatun, who fought alongside Mir Dadshah7 Balochi, Karachi, in its issue of March 1958, announced that it intended to bring out a special issue on Mir Dadshah. In a note by the editor, the paper regarded Dadshah as one of the greatest of Baloch heroes who had laid down their lives for the great cause. Eulogizing him, the paper expressed the hope that the long struggle, in which the Baloch would offer more sacrifice, will continue. On the political front, Mir Abdi, who opposed to the Shah’s policies in Balochistan, went into self-exile in Iraq. Quite a few educated Baloch joined him in an effort to streamline the national struggle. Mir Abdi was however persuaded by the Shah to return to Iran where, he was given privileges. With Iraqi support, the Baloch intelligentsia continued their campaign for an independent Balochistan, and broadcasts from Radio Iraq directed towards Pakistan and Iran had a certain educational impact on the people. However, with Iran-Iraq agreement in 1975, which deprived the Iraqi Kurds of the Shah’s support, the Iraqis for their part also withdrew assistance for the Baloch dissidents, and their access to the publicity media came to an abrupt end. Prince Abdul Kareem The revolt of prince Abdul Kareem in May 1948 did not gain much momentum. Along with his followers, he had entered Afghanistan with the hope of getting assistance from the Afghan rulers. He harbored such hope primarily because of the Afghan attitude towards. Pakistan, and secondly, the traditional support the two peoples had given each other in time of distress. But the prince received no substantial aid from his host, and feeling extremely disappointed he surrendered to the Pakistani army. Detained and subsequently released, he helped form the Ustuman Gal and its successor the National Awami party. Prince Kareem’s revolt was given the highest praise by the minstrels. He was made the symbols of courage and velour. A poem composed after his return from Afghanistan narrates the entire episode, lauding the Prince and his ‘valiant comrades who are determined to upheld the Baloch cause’. A poem by Azad Jamaldini appeared in Balochi (January 1957) captioned ‘Paigam’ message, to Agha Abdul Kareem Khan’. Beautifully composed, it mentions the Baloch determination to fight for the great objective of achieving national independence. The poem condemns ‘the three’, meaning Afghanistan. Iran and Pakistan, for dividing the Baloch land among themselves. It criticizes the sardars for bartering away the people and expresses the hope that the Baloch will continue to offer sacrifices in blood for the noble cause. Mir Namrouz got the highest tributes. Poems composed after the event is still sung as lullabies and as traditional hallo in many parts of Jallawan during social ceremonies. He is depicted as a hero and placed amongst the greatest in the Baloch history. He is accorded a place next only to Mir Chakar, Mir Gwarham and Mir Mehrab Khan in velour and righteousness. The treachery of Pakistani rulers in executing the colleagues of Mir Namrouz Khan and. their going back on their promises is regarded as the mean tactic of a contemptible enemy. The Baloch are exhorted to follow Mir Namrouz and his brave comrades, who fought for a cause as glorious as that of Mir Mehrab Khan. Mir Gul Khan Nasser’s poems before and after these executions are the most marvelous pieces of literature ever composed on various aspects of a struggling people. Compositions by minstrels had an immense lucidity and forcefulness, which moved the common folk. In 1963 a poem published in thus expressed deep resentment over the continued political subjugation. Although it did not refer to Mir Namrouz rebellion, one can infer that the poet is not unaware of the happening. The poet says he wants to be the master of his own land and guide his own destiny. He has no chauvinistic claims and wants the restoration of the honor of his motherland. Sayad Zahoor Shah (Scholar Poet): Sayad Zahoor Shah (1926—1977) was a renowned poet and writer. A few excerpts from his book of prose, Sistagien Dastunk, rendered freely in English, are reproduced below to show that he was deeply shocked to see the Baloch losing their national sovereignty~ My heart bleeds To wet the barren land for my miserable people in the hope that one day these lands will turn green and there will grow red flowers. Gather the seeds of those flowers. Because these are from my blood9 After subjugation for a thousand years the Baloch is still oppressed by the merciless, He is a people who can hardly be crushed0. I am like those brave youths who have been ambushed by the enemy. Injured by sword, they are lying hopeless in a vast desert without water. Hungry wolves are waiting to eat their flesh after they breathe their last. But I tell them (the enemy] not to be off guard: Revered mothers will bear such invincible sons again11 The one whose ‘hands are red with my blood, says he is pure; The other, like a jackal who has stolen my pouch, boasts of being a tiger, The third that has snatched a portion of my shawl, and has an eye on my shirt, says, ‘I am your brother; The fourth one is so courteous that I am frightful12. We (the Baloch) do not want your buildings do not set our huts on fire, We do not require your forts; do not surround our horns; We do not need your stores, Do not ravage our fields, We do not demand your ships; do not destroy our boats; We do not desire your craft do not snatch our camels, We do not aspire to your Armour’s; do not break our arms; Do not oppress us Lest you may be oppressed by a superior spirit We are still unarmed And living under the shadow of the swords. But we are not hopeless A day will come When we will be shadowing the swords. If you are not imperceptive than believe that you are desperately miserable14. Sayad Zahoor Shah, in a poem, Va Diga Suhrien Madene, expresses in a very lucid language the Bloch’s determi­nation to fight his way through for emancipation and freedom. The Baloch will crush the enemy, shedding blood and drinking it in revenge, the poem says. In Hazar Ganjien Napan Tawan Kanien, he exhorts the Baloch not to hesitate to withstand the difficulties, which may come in the way of their great objective. He reminds the Baloch of their glorious past and asks for sacrifices to secure a position of honor and respect16 In Sarjam Bothagant, he tells them that the enemy wishes their oblivion. Weakness is the last link between strength and miserable ness. Wake up and do something for your survival, he exhorts them. In Shamushkar Naban, Sayad Zahoor says he cannot forget the Baloch country; the vast barren land, its valleys, mountains and rivers, which he feels, are unforgettable. The people and their history, their bravery and courage and the hardship they suffer, can not be erased from his memory18 In an unpublished poem, Sankalan Sindien, he urges the reader to find a way to break the chains of slavery. He calls upon the Baloch to follow the footsteps of their forefathers, who resisted the enemy and never let themselves be dominated by others. Unless the enemy is defeated there will be no peace for the Baloch in their country, he says. In another poem, Gehien Shahsawaran, the poet exhorts the people to fight the enemy who has occupied his land. He is optimistic that the enemy will be defeated. The Baloch will surely carry the day. In Mangahien Baloch, the poet takes pride in the idea that the Baloch are determined to give battle to the enemy. He hopes that the Baloch will crush the enemy and avenge the wrong done to them. G.R Mulla (Poet) Ghulam Rasool Mulla (b.1939) is a nationalist produced by an era of deep deprivation. Mulla believes in his destiny as the poet of a subjugated people whose rights have been snatched and whose vast land has been under alien hegemony. The establishment of Pakistan and the accession into it of the Baloch Country was the greatest shock to Mullah, whose poetry depicts a revolutionary trend with an optimistic overture under agonizing socio-political conditions. The movement for self-determination influences him. The general frustration after the events of 1948 shaped Mulla’s poetry to a great extent. Mulla has a deep possessive affection for his homeland. His style and poetic genius placed him among the few revolutionary poets. The first compilation of Mulla’s poems appeared in 1981 entitled Bazhn. A few excerpts condensed and rendered freely are produced below: Balochistan is my heart, my soul, and a. panacea for all conceivable pains of life. Why should I not sacrifice, or hesitate to suffer indignities of confinement, when my motherland is facing the poisonous bullets19 You will face the consequences of your evils, You will suffer from trickery and sweet talks, And hateful taunting, You instill fear like tigers, You boast as a superior, But I have never seen signs of bravery or respect for You, In the pages of history, Do not consider me helpless, Do not see my condition as miserable. You are prosperous, strong, I am weak, mindless. But do not be off guard, The day will come when you will account For all your evil doings, The Baloch are miserable, Their youth appears aged, unclothed, and unfortunate There is no remedy for them, They cry and cry at night, For help and succor, I wonder why all the ills aim at the Baloch Listen to me the great youth, Let us commit ourselves To struggle and retake our land, Unite and lead our people to happiness and respect21 Listen to me the honor less devil, You never regret the oppression, cruelties, You perpetuate on me, You have caused misery everywhere, Children and newborn are crying, Bleeding in tears. A fire may destroy you I will take revenge. Can you see the wrong yow have done, o despicable! Looted our land, our dwellings, Traces of evil and destruction everywhere, I am witness to all this, But I am patient, hopeful, That you will also be burnt And destroyed The way you are destroying me22 O the grown-up youth of my people Let me narrate a pathetic tale, give you happy news. If you see the sun red, bright moon and stars, any redness in flowers, these must be the blood of your people. You are the son of a great people, Hailing from Baloch Khan, Mir Chakar and Hammal. You are the son of Kambar, You belong to Aali and Beebagr. You are my only hope, the spirit of a great people, you will do the impossible, If you want my advice, have the courage to face the bitterness. Embrace the revolution and destroy the enemy O my comrade! Your motherland has been captured, The enemy has spread over your land like the pigs in multitude. They have pillaged a vast land, Ravaged our dwellings, The bullets are coming like rainfall. Why are you at ease? Your motherland has been subjugated, You have been made a slave, Thugs and cowards are ruling you, Your national rights snatched and the beautiful country is being looted. Your brothers have been killed, Sons are hungry, thirsty, It is your people, who are being destroyed, It is your land, which is being devastated, By the worthless, contemptible, Why do you consider yourselves weak? Take up your guns, check your strength. Murad Sahir’s compilation of poems, Pahar, (Fazul Academy, Karachi, 1970) is an appreciable contribution to Balochi literature. He has a grieving heart but a healthy mind. Balochistan occupies the highest place in his thoughts. His poetry circles round the beauties of the land and his people. He believes in total revolution and waits the day when a ‘tirade from the east’ sweeps the entire world. Baloch subjugation is referred to in several poems. Murad is proud to be a Baloch and expresses his determination to continue the fight against national oppression. He is not direct and aggressive like, Mullah, or philosophical like Sayad Zahoor Shah but his poetry reflects a constant endeavor to send his message of revolution to Baloch youth. Essays on Baloch National Struggle (janmahmad) 

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