Free Baluchistan remains a feasible alternative which could possibly deter Pakistan’s terrorist design in Asia and bring democracy, peace and stability
Jamal Nasir Baloch
The American social scientist, Samuel Huntington, says there have been three waves of democracy in the world. The first wave appeared in 1828, second in 1943 and third in 1974. He categorised these waves according to the spread of democracy and anti-colonial movements. The first wave was started with American and French revolutions; the second wave was referred to the defeat of fascism in Europe and establishment of new states in former European colonies. Third and the last wave was the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism. However, in early 1948, during the second wave of democracy when the anti-colonial movement was getting momentum, Baluchistan was occupied by newborn Pakistan. The invading army arrested members of the parliament and Baluchistan was forcibly merged into Pakistan by April 1948. Soon after the illegal incorporation Prince Abdul Karim, the then governor of Makran, organised his followers and initiated the first guerrilla resistance movement against Pakistan.
Since the forceful occupation Baluch people have made five attempts to regain their sovereignty, these were in 1948, 1958, the 1960s, 1970s and the fifth and the present phase of Baloch liberation struggle started in 2000. During these uprisings, all sections of Baluch nation including Hindus have supported the movement. In recent years supporters of the Free Baluchistan have faced worse human rights violations by Pakistani security forces. More than 20,000 people have disappeared and nearly 5,000 Baluch have been murdered in Army
custody. Similarly, during the current resistance movement followers of Hindu religion in Baluch society have faced harassment and forced conversions to Islam by state-backed criminal groups. In Baluchistan, the majority of Hindus are ethnic Baluch and integral part of Baluch society. In October 2012 when incidents against religious minority increased; Hyrbyair Marri, the leader of the Free Baluchistan movement issued a public statement against Pakistani-backed religious and criminal groups and said that Baluch people have always protected religious minorities in Baluchistan. Also, in 2013 the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) issued a statement against the Pakistan-backed criminal groups who were targeting Hindu Baluch community. ‘Those who trouble the Hindu community on Baluch soil will be treated as national enemies because such grave crimes are against the principles of BLA,’ warned Meerak Baloch, the BLA spokesperson.
For Baluch, ‘tolerance, democracy and secularism’ are not a modern phenomenon. It is evident by the
history that Baluch have always viewed their fellow non-Muslim brothers as equal part of Baluch nation. During the Partition when Hindu temples and churches were converted into mosque in Pakistan, Baluch people preserved and protected Hindu temples. One of the examples could be the Hinglaj temple, one of the Shakti Peethas that is located in Lasbela Baluchistan. In the 19th century, when Jews and other minorities in Europe had only achieved their basic political and social rights, the Hindus Dewan Bucha Mull was the Finance Minister in Baluchistan’s executive; he was later martyred while defending Baluchistan against British invasion in 1839. The unique approach of Baluch nation towards religion is the result of their nation-centric culture and tradition that view religion only as a faith. On the other hand, Pakistan was created on the basis of religion. The only justification for the division of India, which they can possibly cite is the Islam. Pakistan can be categorised as the only state that lacks cultural, linguistic, and historical or ethnic basis. Nation-centric secular psychology of Baluch nation is what makes it different from Muslim Punjabi dominated Pakistan.
The Baluchs have been striving for their political independence on their own. They have managed to resist Pakistan Army and preserved their distinctive culture and language. Nevertheless, Narendra Modi’s
statement on Indian Independence Day regarding Baluchistan has shed a light on the atrocities. Free Baluchistan remains a feasible alternative, which could possibly deter Pakistan’s terrorist design in Asia and bring democracy, peace and stability.
(The writer is Baluch political activist and writer based in London)