Baloch leader’s musings lead to misconceptions

By S. M. Hali

Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal former Chief Minister and head of Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) appeared before the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to assist the court to resolve the issue of missing persons and target killing of the citizens in the province of Balochistan. The peace-loving people of Pakistan expected that his return will usher a sense of calmness promoting peace and serenity in the province. Unfortunately, his statements before the court and the media caused confusion among the masses enhancing their sense of insecurity and anxiety. His musings led to serious misconceptions.

Some aspects of his musings necessitate a rejoinder. His pronouncement that “survival of Baloch people is at stake with the systematic and organized acts of genocide being carried out by the Security Agencies; all the parameters indicate a classical colonial relationship between Pakistan & Balochistan” is based on falsehood.

Law and order situation in Balochistan is a serious source of concern for all Pakistanis. The allegations leveled against the Security Agencies, being product of jaundiced mindset negatively charged against the Security Forces are totally rejected as mendacity. Sardar Mengal forgets that the Security Forces themselves are also victim of violence and brutal acts of terrorism. They are sacrificing their lives to safeguard the national interests.

Security Forces are always are constrained to conduct operations against own people, however, criminal elements disturbing the law and order situation in the province need to be dealt with assertively. To label such actions as genocide depicts perverted thinking.

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Balochistan is a part of Pakistan. It is as independent as the other provinces. Political leadership, especially Sardars are responsible for oppressing the Baloch nationals. As modern democratic norms challenge the Feudalism, the Baloch Sardars feel threatened in the wake of ongoing development projects in the province.

Armed Forces of Pakistan played a crucial role in the development projects including education, communication infrastructure and enhancing youth employment. These projects need to be appreciated. Unfortunately Sardar Mengal failed to acknowledge them for political reasons.

The erstwhile estranged Baloch Sardar claims that “An indirect system of colonial rule was employed to rule Balochistan by proxy, to gain control of its economy, culture and politics. Intelligence agencies created unknown breed of politicians/ religious leaders in a secular Baloch society and was incorporated in the scheme of ruling Balochistan by proxy.”

The fact of the matter is that the allegations against the Intelligence agencies and state functionaries are baseless. The aspect that Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal himself had been one of the Chief Ministers of Balochistan, having experienced the lust of power in the highest office of the province now feels alienated at being left out. Though he himself is to be blamed for boycotting the last election, his perverted arguments against intelligence agencies are ridiculous. His viewpoint needs to be countered giving chronological record of different Governments in Balochistan.

Akhtar Mengal’s allegation that “The state functionaries promoted non-entities as alternates to recognized leadership of Nawab Mari, Sardar Mengal and Nawab Bugti is also hpw at best without credence.

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In democracy every individual has an equal right to get a chance to compete for the highest offices through elections. To argue that unknown breed of leaders (non-entities) were given the chance to govern, ignoring big families like Marris, Bugtis and Mengals speaks of a Sardar’s lust for power. So far Sardar Akhtar Mengal is also a non-entity and he needs to wait till next elections are held to prove his popularity/merit for top position.

The Sardar asserts that “Baloch access to the political process has been deliberately suspended, to the detriment for (sic) conciliation and co-existence with the state”.

The record should be set straight that Sardar Akhtar Mengal participated in 2002 elections and joined the Assembly, only to quit after two years. He boycotted the 2008 elections. When politicians do not contest elections, they should not blame others for their isolation. Since the election was termed fair by all observers, therefore, elected members cannot be termed as proxies. 

His claim that “Beginning from 1970s a new and previously unknown breed of politicians, the ‘religious leaders’ was created” should be taken with a pinch of salt. A fair critique of their performance in power would have been more constructive. To say that their only credential was their loyalty to the state is not a valid criticism. Moreover, loyalty to the state is not a bad thing?

We need to recall the roster of Governors and Chief Ministers of Balochistan since 1970s to test the accuracy of this assertion. Nawab Akbar Bugti and Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s names come readily to mind; and let us not forget the late Mir Ahmed Yar Khan of Kalat. While the leadership of these worthy luminaries is acknowledged, the dismissal of all other political leadership of Balochistan representing the 98% population not under the above Sardars as mere  “non-entities” does not reflect a democratic and inclusive mindset.

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The basis of Akhtar Mengal’s argument that “Various new exploratory schemes to discover and utilize the remaining natural resources in ……. Balochistan are on the agenda of the military establishment”, needs to be checked for veracity. Actually it is the agenda of the government, as it should be. The question is why it is not on Sardar Mengal’s agenda. 18th Amendment has given the provinces vast ownership over their resources; the political leaders are expected to manage these resources for the betterment of their people rather than straining to keep them buried. Targeting foreigners working on various schemes that would benefit Balochistan is criminally shortsighted. As to depletion of gas reserves, actually the rate of depletion has been reduced by using new technologies. No doubt mineral exploration management has not been so good, but to remain mired in the past is not so helpful either.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal and for that matter all Baloch leadership, if it is genuinely interested in the uplift of its people, must take pragmatic cognizance of the issues rather than just pay lip sympathy to them and play to the gallery.

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