By Dr Mohammad Taqi
June 11, 2015
There simply is no reprieve for the star-crossed people of Balochistan. After the carnage in Mastung just over a week ago, this past weekend saw the usual suspects shooting and killing the usual victims — the Hazara Shias of Quetta — at one of the busiest intersections of the city, within an earshot of the law enforcement agencies’ pickets. The security agencies did not lift even a finger and the jihadist terrorists fled comfortably. Usual condemnations poured in and then Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif “took notice of yet another incident of targeted killing against the Hazara community and ordered the swift arrest of the culprits behind the incident”. Really, Mian sahib? Were you just not in Quetta taking similar notice of the Mastung massacre of Pashtuns? What became of that, sir? Do you seriously think that your words carry an inkling of meaning for the devastated families, let alone assuage the deluge of grief that has submerged them? Your mega projects in Punjab are all fine and dandy, and indeed much needed, honourable PM, but an old adage in Farsi — the mother tongue of those five slaughtered Hazara Shias — goes: “Aalam pas e marg e maa cheh darya o cheh saraab?” (Would it matter to me whether the world were a sandy mirage or a lush oasis with flowing water after my death?)
To add insult to injury, the 25-year-old son of the veteran progressive Hazara politician and human rights activist Tahir Khan Hazara was, according to him, taken away illegally on June 9, 2015. Tahir Hazara had made a speech at the protest organised by the Hazara mourners the day before in which he targeted sectarian jihadists like Ramzan Mengal and Rafique Mengal who were attempting to neutralise the secular Baloch struggle and in the process slaughtering the Hazara Shias to ignite a sectarian war. Tahir Hazara told me over the phone that some men came to his place at Spin Karez, an hour’s drive west of Quetta, and asked for him but since he was not there they forcibly took his only son, Athar Hazara, with them. As we go to press there has been no word from the government about the young Athar Hazara despite a nightlong physical protest by the Hazara men and women as well as outrage on social media. One does not wish for yet another youth to be added to the thousands of Balochistan’s missing persons. Hopefully, Tahir Hazara’s son will return home safe and soon. Tragically, Tahir Khan Hazara was once a political assistant to the late and much revered Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo whose lacklustre son, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, presides over the National Party (NP) that leads Balochistan’s toothless coalition government today.
If the NP-led government was just powerless there could potentially be a flimsy excuse for sordid incidents like forced disappearances, dumping of mutilated bodies of Baloch nationalists and the massacre of Pashtuns like in Mastung. But, sadly, the Balochistan Chief Minister (CM), Abdul Malik Baloch, and his party leader, Hasil Bizenjo, have been actively peddling conspiracy theories that blame the Indian secret service, RAW, for everything that ails Balochistan. Hasil Bizenjo recently alleged on a television talk show that the late Nawab Khair Bux Marri’s son, Nawabzada Mehran Marri, who purportedly oversees the United Baloch Army (UBA), had accepted responsibility for the massacre of Pashtuns in Mastung, which simply is not true. Nawabzada Mehran Marri has vehemently denied any involvement in the Mastung bloodbath.
Quite curiously, a certain Haji Wali Muhammad Qalati, claiming to be the leader of the UBA, surrendered to the government last week. Accepting Wali Qalati’s surrender was none other than the estranged brother of Nawabzada Mehran Marri, Changez Marri, who has sided with Islamabad against his brothers, his late father and the Baloch at large. No questions were asked as to how Wali Qalati — an ostensible militant — after killing 22 Pashtuns, had a sudden change of heart overnight and gave up his arms. No information was given by the NP-led government about Qalati’s direct involvement in the butchery at Mastung and whether he would be brought to justice. The UBA’s alleged claim and then the convenient surrender of its supposed leader, Wali Qalati, simply do not pass the whiff test but, unfortunately, that is what Hasil Bizenjo’s faux nationalist government is trying to sell.
In the same interview, Hasil Bizenjo also said that in the event the liberation struggle succeeded, a sovereign Baloch state would be weak and fall prey to Afghanistan or Iran. One is compelled first to ask Hasil Khan Bizenjo if there was any foreign power that orchestrated the December 14, 1947 speech delivered by his illustrious father, Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo, to the Kalat National Assembly, which went on to become the ideological backbone of modern Baloch nationalism and liberation struggles. The late Bizenjo sahib had said: “We have a distinct culture like Afghanistan and Iran, and if the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to amalgamate with Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran should also be amalgamated with Pakistan. They say we Baloch cannot defend ourselves in the atomic age. Well, are Afghanistan and even Iran capable of defending themselves against the superpowers? If we cannot defend ourselves, a lot of others cannot do so either. They say we must join Pakistan for economic reasons. Yet we have minerals, we have petroleum and we have ports. The question is: what would Pakistan be without us?”
It seems that the venerable Ghaus Bux Bizenjo was virtually quashing then the very aspersions that Hasil Bizenjo is casting today on the Baloch national movement. The fact is that the NP-led government has failed to conceive even a roadmap for resolving the myriad problems Balochistan is faced with. The Hasil Bizenjo-Malik Baloch duo claims to have initiated dialogue with the insurgents but not only that such parleys do not even exist, the insurgents are loathe to talk to them for they are deemed Islamabad’s fellow travellers. On the Shia/Hazara massacres issue, the duo consistently harps on about the security establishment’s line that it is ostensibly an ‘Iran-Saudi proxy war’ without ever showing how many — if any at all — the Hazaras have ever killed. On the other hand, in its two years’ stint, the sham nationalist dispensation of the NP has failed to apprehend and punish even a single killer of the Hazara Shias. With the federal government’s naivety and the provincial government’s inept plans to stem them, murders and mayhem in Balochistan are bound to increase in the foreseeable future.
Dr Mohammad Taqi can be reached at email@example.com and he tweets @mazdaki