China’s colonisation of Pakistan and Balochistan offer the newest threat to Baloch identity
The political situation in Balochistan is very grim. Pakistan has been exploiting the natural resources of Balochistan to its benefit at the expense of local Baloch. All their plea for justice has so far fallen on deaf ears.
Balochistan is the biggest province in Pakistan area-wise, but thinly populated. Over decades, Pakistan is settling the ethnic groups from outside, mainly Pakistani Punjabis, to overwhelm the number of local Baloch. This demographic re-engineering is of the type Pakistan essayed in Kashmir to outnumber the local Hindus.
The main tribes in Balochistan are the Marris, the Mengals and the Bugtis. When Baloch National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) faction became the coalition partner of Imran Khan’s PTI government, the development aroused expectations that the grievances of Baloch will be addressed. But that was not to be.
Pakistan Army, usually called the “establishment” may be because of the system they have ‘established’ to torture various ethnic groups in Pakistan, including the Baloch, the Sindhis, and the Pakhtuns, has unleashed untold sufferings on the Baloch. At the height of the Baloch Freedom Struggle, the Baloch were thrown down from the helicopters to the rocky terrain below killing them instantly. Pakistani Army dragged thousands of Baloch males from their houses and tortured and killed them. Their dead bodies were never returned to their families.
“The Pakistani Army has never won any war with India but specializes in torture, killings, terror, rape and murder. The Pakistani Army personnel who earned infamy for rampant rape, torture and killings of academician and intellectuals in Bangladesh and badly humiliated, were settled in Balochistan to continue with their shameful activities to settle scores with the freedom-seeking Baloch”, said Mehran Marri, Leader of the Marri Tribe and Baloch Representative to the European Union and the United Nations.
Defamed Army took out its frustration on Baloch by unleashing a reign of terror. Thousands of Baloch-especially young males-went missing not to be seen ever again. Return of missing Baloch has been one of the main demands of the Baloch Freedom Struggle. The situation became so serious that even the Pakistan Supreme Court had to intervene and rule that the missing persons must be returned within specified time. Given the devil-like grip of the Army in Baluchistan, even that ruling didn’t solve the problem.
The authorities are not keen to return the freedom fighters missing for years. In case they are already killed, which is more probable, the establishment has no courage or sensibility to admit the dastardly act.The BNP-M joined the ruling coalition in 2018 only after the new government agreed to fulfill its demands: the return of missing persons in Balochistan, repatriation of Afghan refugees, construction of dams for the province, and legislation against outsiders getting voting rights in Gwadar not to disturb the demographic balance.
Pakistan government kept delaying the implementation of the agreement for one reason or another till its patience wore thin and it decided to leave the coalition. This forced Akbar Mengal, the BNP-M leader to walk away from the government. Unfortunately, the Army continues to play the most decisive role in the affairs of Balochistan.
The safe return of the missing persons is now one of the chief demands. Financial neglect is another. Diversion of money allocated for Balochistan to elsewhere and reduction of 30 Billion Rupees in projected federal transfers to Balochistan this year exemplifies Pakistan’s step-motherly attitude even though Balochistan needs far more funds to develop cities, utilize natural resources, attract private investors, modernise its tribal economy and provide education, healthcare, drinking water and roads. But the more things change in Balochistan, the more they remain the same.
Baloch are suffering, and suffering heavily, right from the day the principality of Khan of Kalat – the largest of the four principalities of Baloch-was annexed by Pakistan in 1947 by sheer use of force and treachery. Their misery has seen no bounds since then. Baloch interests have been subjugated to the interests of Pakistani Muslims and the colonising interests of China.
China’s colonisation of Pakistan and Balochistan offer the newest threat to Baloch identity. Chinese entrepreneurs have purchased huge real states in Balochistan and have constructed exclusive colonies for themselves. Space for ethnic identity of Baloch is shrinking by the day.
At the time of independence, Baloch opted to join the Indian Union but, India failed on its part to care for them. Baloch in their search for freedom are still searching for an anchor and under the staunch leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Baloch could find a ray of hope. Battered by cruel Pakistani Army and more cruel Chinese imperialism, Baloch Freedom Struggle-the oldest freedom struggle in history-just chugs on.