by Mir Muhammad Ali Talpur
Apparently the Pakistani establishment understands the political and historical importance of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Long March, therefore, desperately tries to thwart this potential political juggernaut.
It is desperate because it has failed to deter this intrepid group of people who now have marched for 91 days since they left Quetta and for 64 days since they left Karachi on the 13th of December. The establishment has tried threats to marchers, harassment by agencies, harassment of those who welcome them or dare to be their hosts.
On the 8th of February the hackneyed excuse of brake failure was employed when a truck tried to ram the marchers and injured two of them, one Shahshan Baloch and Comrade Irfan Ali, a member of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP). There has been an instance of aerial firing near the marchers by motor cycle riders. All this hasn’t deterred them and they will be in Lahore when you read this piece.
The onus is now on the civil society, the Left and those who talk about justice and humanity to show that they too understand the real importance of this potential political juggernaut which on its way has crushed conventional beliefs and set new bench marks of political and physical resilience. They have to prove that they really have earnestly believed what they have preached to others all their lives. I suppose many would have supported this historic march had it not been for the just demand of Baloch for the freedom of their land and nation. To the minds brought up on the Pakistani state narrative of this place being a land of Muslims and not of nationalities it is difficult for them to accept free Balochistan. Free Balochistan is an anathema for the minds firmly shackled by the state narrative, free Balochistan concept is blasphemous to the minds reared on the fabricated and spurious history of the glory of Islam with which the people of this sub-continent wrongly and mistakenly identify with. There was nothing Islamic about the different dynasties that ruled the sub-continent all they had in common with Islam were the Arabic names of the rulers.
Trying to artificially make Islam a reason for nation naturally leads to spurious ideology and this is what the establishment here tried to superimpose on the nations which had cultures and history predating Islam. A clash was inevitable for all those who considered their national identity as a mark of dignity and respect for themselves; while those who hardly had an identity or thought they would benefit from this spurious identity and ideology not only adopted it with a passion and fervor but set about imposing it on other nations with force.
This imposition could not succeed without physical and mental enslavement of the nations like Baloch, Bengalis and Sindhis; the physical enslavement initially came about easily as the Punjabi-dominated Pakistani army was the only one with monopoly of force. The mental enslavement began with imposition of Islam as state religion and imposition of Urdu as the state language. The media played an important role in furthering the state agenda of mental enslavement by blocking out the counter-narrative meticulously.
The Baloch resisted the enslavement physically by resisting the state employed force with force. The Bengalis resisted the enslavement with their demand for recognition of their separate identity as the March 1948 language riots showed. In Sindh too the enslavement was resisted but it never became organized enough to make a difference and today the Sindhis have the worst of both the worlds. They are being turned into a minority in their own land and the most unfortunate thing is that the Pakistan Peoples’ Party which claims to represent Sindhis is instrumental in exacerbating the enslavement process. The Bengalis eventually went their way after paying an extremely heavy price as dead and as living because of the mass killings and mass rapes perpetrated by Pakistani army and its supporters. The Baloch resisted and were to a large extent able to stop the physical enslavement; for had they not resisted they would have been an insignificant minority in their own land today.
The Baloch have all along resisted force with force, though without much success on the political front because all their attempts to employ political means were thwarted. Ataullah Mengal’s government was allowed only a respite of 9 months before Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sent it packing home 41 years back on February 13th, 1973 and soon arrested the Baloch leaders. There were some attempts again for gains through political means but the whims of rulers ensured that these remained stillborn. Then since 2000 there has been an open ended conflict which has been intensified with the passage of time. So much so that having given up completely on political means the 2013 elections were by and large boycotted by the Baloch with the present deputy Speaker of Balochistan Assembly getting elected on only 514 votes from Awaran 41. The Local Government elections fared even worse with elections being held in two phases as in many constituencies no one had contested at all.
This VBMP Long March is a political weapon and Pakistan fully understands it. This group of brave young Baloch Banuks and Warnas is leading a political assault on establishment’s home turf and has put it on back foot. The resilience and the tenacity they have exhibited has astounded the enemy and at the same time kindled hope in hearts of friends who now have come to realize what dedication and resolve can do for a movement. This long march has shown how determined and resilient the Baloch are for their cause and this is what the establishment wants to sabotage with dirty underhand tactics.
When the Marchers set out from Quetta and the problems they faced with blisters and threats not many thought they would persist till Karachi but they travelled that distance in 27 days. Then Mama and his team decided to march from Karachi to Islamabad. Not only the enemies but the friends too had doubts and many expressed them. I was part of the historic march for 16 days and walked till Saeedabad; since then they have marched for another 74 days to reach Lahore. An amazing achievement indeed. The Long March has been the most peaceful and the most sustained political act in the sub-continent by a small group of people persevering for their cause and succeeding in riling and rankling the establishment with its perseverance and the revolutionary message of defiance and resistance it is conveying not only to the Baloch but to the millions who saw them.
Anyone who in any way became a part of this Historic March is indeed fortunate. The historical and political importance of this March is lost on many. Some may never understand it; others will understand it late. This March brought out the best in many and at the same it has helped expose many who just paid lip-service to the Great Cause of Balochistan. It would indeed be a misfortune for those who came into contact with awesome Baloch heroes and did not learn the lesson of persevering resistance that they have imparted with their yet unfinished march. The establishment fears this march because of the message of defiance it is giving to the downtrodden people here and defiance by the people is the bane of all establishments. Once someone successfully defies the supposedly monolithic establishment, the defiance becomes contagious and affects many which soon creates a momentum of its own and sounds the death knell for the establishment.
This is exactly what this Long March is doing and though today it may seem irrelevant and insignificant but it is contagious and will infect many and that is the day that the establishment fears. It is for this reason I have termed this March as a political juggernaut which will crush injustices and tyranny under its wheels. Yes incidentally this march has a cart which carries the pictures of missing and Shaheeds and proudly proclaims its intentions. These fragile wheels of this cart will achieve more than what they seemingly appear to. This Long March has the potential of becoming an unstoppable juggernaut which would crush the spurious ideologies and myths thrown at it and achieve the ultimate dream of Baloch.