Quetta, on the verge of a drastic demographic change
By: *Shayan Baloch*
The provincial capital of Balochistan from the pages of history was primarily known as Shaal. "Shaal" is a Balochi word which means "Chaddar". The archives of Quetta go back and connect the periods when Baloch and Pashtoo live together to fight against Moghuls, Persians and others plunders. No doubt, at the time of 18thcentury, Quetta was a part of Afghanistan. Ahmed Shah Abdali, at the time the king of Afghanistan (Kabul) was a complaisant partner of Khan of Kalat, Mir Noori Naseer Khan. Both the heads of states were effectively influential characters in terms of fighting and strategic warfare that were fought in both territories respectively. Both being the strategic partners collectively attacked on the emperors of Hindustan and Persian. However, in a willingness of Ahmed Shah Abdali and their triumphant accomplishment over the emperors respectively brought an intensive intimacy between both the nations ahead of such successful ends.
As the historical conquests were acomplished termed to be possible by a productive assistance of Khan of Kalat which later has won the heart of Kabul's King and he gifted land of Quetta as a 'Shaal" ( a peice of cloth) to the beloved and respected mother of Noori Naseer Khan the then Khan of Kalat State, Bibi Mariyam. This was a prominent move taken as an intention to strengthen the brotherhood between the two neighboring states and since that as far as the historical and academic facts are concerned Quetta is a part of Balochistan.
Quetta primarily known as the city for thousands of people, as for as the chronicles records are concerned, this is now roughly overpopulated. According to Wikipedia, Baloch population in Balochistan comprises 50% and remaining statistics made up the 50% of Pashtoons, Hazara, Sindhi and Panjabi, Despite of Pakistani overruled concentrations and rapid irritatioanl response to Baloch nation in terms of enforced disappearances ,kill and dump policy and compelled migration.
On the other hand, Balochistan being an occupied land has faced a dozens of challenging obstructions from the day it has been forcedly annexed with Pakistan on 27March 1948.
In rivalry rejoinder and eradication of the curse of slavery, the land of Baloch has given emergence to resistances in the form of insurgencies that factually aim at freeing the ocuupid land from hands of savages. The occupier state response on the other side discreetly utilized all the ways and policies in diminishing the vision of Baloch towards expedition of freedom. They (Pakistani State) attempted to crush and demolish all the forms of insurgencies in the form of military operations, using the religious cards, provision of satisfactory and bigotry education, giving free hands to the local and secrete agencies handful squads, terrifying the youth by mass killing, abduction and torturing and many others such psychological factors which aimed just to intimidate the people to make their appearance completely away, being a part of anti-state activities.
Despite all those intrigues that the installation utilized, the vision from the minds of people couldn’t get lessened and the occupier’s mindsets gone through a project of demographic changes.
Quetta city is a home to people from diverse ethnic and religious communities, was once known as the little Paris due to its natural beauty and pleasant atmosphere. Previously Quetta was known as the basket of fruits and flowers, as its glamour of cleanliness was all in one. It was established by the British in 1880s for an estimated population of one hundred thousand people as for as its infrastructure was concerned.
Pakistan has always practiced the transformation policies of keeping Baloch away from any aspect of involvement practically. As seeing Quetta a capital city of the largest province (state) has given free hands to Pashtuns to be dominated over Baloch in the form of buying their properties which they heartedly did, on the eve of which the Pashtuns have been given legal authorities in smuggling of drugs from Afghanistan to elsewhere. Beforehand, somehow two decades the trade and business based activities from Afghanistan was centered in Nushki (Gaaznali) border but being a majority Baloch district connecting Afghanistan, Pakistan has tactfully shifted the business to an area of Pashtuns known as Chaman, just to pave a way that the Pashtuns become enable economically and assist in facilitation of state run policies. However, Which has been fulfilled as accordingly to the wishes of occupiers and ahead of it, in aftermath of Soviet invasion in Afghanistan in 1989, millions of refugees came to Balochistan and settled in and outskirts of Quetta. The flow of refugees continued gradually which at last resulted into a population of three million or more than it and their fake identity cards due to willingness and political gravities from some Pashtuns parties and state run machineries initiated issuance which had enormously increased the burden on the local population. This was a drastic demographic change that Quetta city has ever faced in the form of infrastructure, destruction of social harmony, domination over the business, crisis of water, escalation of infiltration in institutions, alarming activities of crimes and many more.
The Quetta city is now on the verge of destruction due to such demographic modifications. If the crisis of water and solid waste to be brought in accounts only, it will clearly hints towards a transformation and massive population which has resulted on willingness and involvement of Pakistan mechanisms. The crisis of water is surprisingly increasing as there is an acute shortage of it in entire city. The underground level of water has fallen to 1,500 feet and expected to decrease further. On the other side the beauty of Quetta has lessened in an extent of disapproval, if this is to be judged in terms of pollution and solid waste generation from houses into streets can obviously allow to a conclusion that the overpopulation due to Afghan refugee’s burden has destroyed the city in a great extent.
This is not a natural process of destruction or transformation, it has been carried out deliberately to cut or limit the Baloch population hold the key positions in any sphere of life. This is a demographic change which has not only limited the Baloch population from owning the properties but always from business in a greater glassy.
Beside this, the historical New Kahan area which is situated in outskirts of Quetta, just nearby HazarGanji a trade hub zone, is a place where Baloch Marri tribe is inhabited from the time when Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri has returned with has visionary colleagues from Afghanistan. The inhabitants of this area has been forced and threatened to leave by Quetta Development Authority (QDA) under the supervision of armed forces to construct an army camp in an intention of demolishing the mud of already fallen houses of the destitute Marri residents of a wealthy land. Not only the residents of New Kahan has been threatened and forced to vacant the area, however QDA has seized the properties of Baloch in many other populated areas of Quetta which are reported to have been constructed governmental buildings or approachable man owned properties.
Such intentionally based actions and escalations against Baloch in Quetta and its outskirts indicate towards a change of policies under the ashes of demographic temperament that is being utilized against Baloch to economically, psychologically and biologically cut it from amicable levels of survival.This demographic policies is still continued, the Afghan refugees are still there, beside those who have been issued identity cards, the level of keeping Baloch away and feeble is rapidly intensifying which can further assist the governmental institutions to bring more demographic modifications. In fact all that transformations are dangerously going against Baloch rights and well because the result which the policy makers of Pakistan intended to accomplish that is the reduced involvement and marginal ratios of Baloch in a place like Quetta.