By Mumtaz Baloch
Some people are born to live for others, they just live with an aim and struggle to achieve that aim. They are obviously the greatest humans on the earth and Saba Dashtyari Baloch was one of them who made this possible to get his name written in “Golden Words” in Baloch and Balochistan’s history. His given name was Ghulam Hussain but he got fame with the name Saba Dashtyari. After his martyrdom, he was given the title “Qandeel-e-Baloch”. Qandeel is a Balochi word which means “Candle” and he was also titled as “The Teacher of Freedom” by Baloch students.
Among the two very important titles ‘Qandeel’ seem more suitable because a candle burns itself to provide light to others. Similarly, Shaheed Saba proved that with his character. He burnt himself (by facing hardships and getting martyred) and by providing knowledge and awareness to others.
He was born in a lower middle-class family in Maripur area of Lyari and spent his childhood in Baghdadi area of Lyari. He attained his education in Philosophy and did a PhD. Having his affection with literature got him attached to Urdu literature, later he realised the need of contributing in Balochi literature and language. He always wished to take the “Linguistic” research on Balochi language further and complete it which Syed Zahoor Shah Hashumi could not.
In schools and colleges Baloch students are not taught their mother language, culture, literature and history, therefore, he chose to contribute in that area. He always emphasised on the importance and requirement of institutions and that was the reason he built a public library and research centre called “Syed Zahoor Shah Hashumi reference library” in Malir area of Karachi to preserve and promote Balochi literature, history and culture on his own. He also authored around 40 books. He chose the career of teaching and joined Balochistan University in Quetta as a professor.
I, for the first time, saw professor Dashtyari in Turbat when he was the examiner on a Bachelor’s exams in Atta Shad Degree College sometime in 2006. He did not allow cheating during the exams due to which students including myself protested against him not knowing the fact that cheating is destroying our youth and distancing them from becoming books lovers. Students were only relying on cheating during exams just to pass their exams.
On 26th August 2006 when Pakistan army assassinated Baloch elderly leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Saba Dashtyari also among one of those whose political opinions changed. Since then he started resisting Pakistani occupation and atrocities in Balochistan. He was greater than many others as he was equipped with literature and history. The decision he took of joining the freedom struggle of Balochistan was his conscious decision and that was the reason he gave up with his ideology by giving up his life but his ideology is still alive within the Baloch youth, and still the sons of the soil are sacrificing their lives for the freedom of their motherland following the path of Saba Dashtyari.
When I came to Quetta for my higher education and joined BSO Azad a students’ political organisation struggled for Baloch sovereignty and for an Independent Balochistan I used to have the honour of being so near to Saba Dashtyari. He used to join all the programs and protests by BSO Azad or any other pro-freedom political party. Being a well-paid professor of Balochistan University he could have a lucrative life and all luxury he would desire for himself but with his exemplary character, he decided to be a voice among the other voices raised for Freedom of Balochistan.
He used to sit with us in small cafeterias and debate on local and international politics, he used to teach us what national slavery is and what could the freedom and sovereignty mean for a nation which is endangered due to colonialism. From 2008 onward there was not a single week passed without seeing him, sitting with him and learning from him.
He used to raise slogans with us during our protests in front of Quetta press club. He used to go to the protests camp of Baloch missing persons in front of Quetta press club regularly, where the families of Baloch missing persons were on protest against the abductions of Baloch political activists, which are in thousands. When in 2009 Pakistan started its kill and dump policy and chose to start it with the chairman of Baloch National Movement Ghulam Mohammad Baloch along with two other Baloch leaders to frighten the political workers, Saba became more aggressive instead of stepping back which turned to be courageous for other political activists too.
His political activities were so hurting for Pakistan Army and it’s notorious ISI that they tried their best to pressurise Saba to silence his voice but it did not work and Saba by the time was recognised as the symbol of resistance and struggle. I last saw him on 11th May 2011 during a protest organised by BSO Azad in front of Quetta press club against the custodial killing of 4 Baloch missing persons named Abdul Sattar Baloch, Agha Abid Shah Baloch, Safeer Baloch and Tariq Kareem Baloch. During that protest, he delivered a speech too where he said, “Pakistani Army and ISI think they can suppress the Baloch Freedom struggle by violence, Baloch youth have decided to get their independence at any cost. Baloch youth know this well, the struggle can cost them their lives but remember with every fallen hero a brick gets reduced from the wall of Pakistani occupation over Balochistan. You (Pakistan Army) have decided to kill us to strengthen its colonial hold and we have decided to die for the greatest cause of freedom. Pakistan Army thinks by slaughtering the masses it can prevail its occupation but should learn from its own history in Bangladesh, use of force and violence can never win against a national struggle”.
In mid-2011 many political activists including me were forced to hide. I had some possibilities of moving from Balochistan to Oman on forceful exile, therefore, I decided to leave. I managed to reach Karachi on 1st of June, during the journey was not able to use mobile therefore did not have any information about what’s happening around. In the evening when I reached Karachi from where I had to catch my flight to Oman the next day. I got the news from TV that “Professor Saba Dashtyari has been assassinated by “unidentified” armed men on Saryab road Quetta. It was very shocking for me but I revealed his own words once he said to me and other students. “I know they (Pakistan Army) will kill me, but I have chosen death over a meaningless life. I have a huge investment, and my investment is you people who I am sure will lead this freedom struggle and take this to its destination of freedom. Our motherland and nation need such sacrifices as we are facing an inhuman enemy who only believes in violence”. We all told him, he needs to take care and he replied: “Every life has to meet death, but dying for a cause is always better”.
A well-known journalist affiliated with BBC Mr. Wusatullah Khan wrote in his column about Saba Dashtyari “Saba, according to Pakistan Army you were more dangerous than an armed freedom fighter who is fighting for Baloch national liberation as you are arming the brains of the Baloch youth. Arming their brains with knowledge, education, struggle, the importance of Sovereignty and independence which can never be tolerated by fascists, don’t you remember what they did to students and professors in Bangladesh. You have lived more than your life, they gave you the chance to change but you did not. The killers believed ideas and ideology can die too, they thought ideas can also be killed with the individual and that was the reason they killed you.”