Media didn’t ask hard questions
Last week, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Chief of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party, was in Pakistan after three years of self-imposed exile. Anchorpersons of almost all TV channels wanted to interview him, and he used this opportunity to malign the state, military and agencies.
Barring a few honourable exceptions, most of them did not ask hard questions, such as “why Baloch dissidents take to the mountains and offer resistance whenever effort is made by the government to build infrastructure in Balochistan?” “Who is behind the killings of security personnel, Punjabis, Pashtuns, teachers and poor workers, including mine workers hailing from other provinces?”
Facing the media persons, along with Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mengal likened his six points to Sheikh Mujib’s. This is irrational, illogical and deceptive! One could disagree with Mujib’s six points that were apparently meant for ensuring share of then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), as he had outlined the ‘subjects’ for the federal and provincial government.
Mengal felt that his people were mistreated by the state; whereas in Balochistan, they are also mistreated by an oppressive feudal order. A common Balochi is the victim of a double whammy right from the days of British Raj, perhaps, even earlier. In the past, he had to bear the brunt of the centre’s injustices, and also had to live with the atrocities of an oppressive and exploitative sardari system, which has divested him of even the basic human rights.
Now the Baloch dissident sardars are facing a dilemma, as the commoner is not ready to accept the privileged dynasties’ divine right to rule and reign over him till eternity. The new generation, in particular, is very restive. It not only wants the ownership of the region’s natural wealth, but also the fruits of that ownership flowing down to it for its own betterment, and not to some sardar’s pocket to enrich his personal coffers. Times have changed and so have the Baloch commoner and the Baloch youth. No more are they prepared to become gun fodder of the bloody fracas of their feudal lords.
Their growing reluctance to be the ready slaves and foot soldiers of their feudal masters has unnerved the entrenched feudality too, with one leading sardar saying that the Baloch youth have sprung out of their control. He might have said in some different context, but it is true! Unfortunately, the sardars sitting in the provincial government are also concerned with their own welfare to the detriment of the people.
Anyhow, fighting the case of Balochistan in the Supreme Court Mengal presented his six-point agenda; he has also let loose a barrage of accusations before a three-member-bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. “Before initiating a meaningful process of conflict resolution, it is imperative that the Government of Pakistan should take and practically implement some measures, which are must to build a conducive atmosphere for the reconciliation process,” said Mengal. He decried the killings of the Baloch and Hazaras, but did not mention about the target killings of Punjabis and Pashtuns in Balochistan.
In a Readers Comments of an English daily, one of the readers has suggested that to counter Mengal’s six points, Pakistan’s government needs to put forward the following ‘six’ points: “Stop and cease all terrorist training camps being run in Afghanistan; stop asking support from foreign countries and secret agencies for an independent Balochistan; stop the target killings of Punjabis, Pathans, and Mohajirs; all rich and influential sardars should share their wealth with the common Baloch; stop sabotaging any development activity in Balochistan; and bring to justice all the terrorists, who were involved in the target killing of settlers.”
To impart justice on merit, the court should extend the scope of the missing persons’ case and situation in Balochistan using its suo motu powers; and murderers of innocent citizens like teachers, professors, doctors and skilled and semi-skilled workers coming from other provinces should also be brought to book.