Mohammad Ali Talpur"It was in 1978 that I, along with
many Marri families, went to Afghanistan as a refugee fleeing
the repression and ravages of the state against unarmed
people and stayed there for 13 long years in what was a
singularly turbulent period in that country's history.
I didn't live in luxury in Kabul but with the people in
refugee camps. I am not a closet nationalist
as I have frequently aired my political views in the press."
Is a rollback possible?
from Dawn - Opinion, Mar 24, 2008
ALL apologies whether personal, political or national have to be followed up
and backed by concrete and substantial steps to end or ease the grievances, violations
and confrontations which were the reason for apology in the first place.
If these measures do not materialise quickly enough then the apology is not worth
the paper it is written on and moreover it is counterproductive. In short, to
back up the apology there has to be a rollback of the policies that have angered
individuals, communities or nations.
Apologies are not a trivial or frivolous matter and need to be tendered in
a considered, formal and decorous manner to carry weight and be acceptable
to those addressed. If the intent is to hoodwink and gain support and sympathy
on a sensitive issue, such apologies do more harm than good because they ultimately
increase disenchantment and disillusionment.The PPP, leader of the coalition
that will shortly take up the reins of governance, offered an apology last
month to the people of Balochistan for “the atrocities and injustices
the province in the past. It also called for an immediate halt to the ongoing
military operation there and release of all political prisoners, including former
chief minister Akhtar Mengal.
This apology has been taken with a pinch of salt by nationalist leaders including
Sardar Ataullah Mengal. He termed the apology a positive but insufficient step,
and doubted that the PPP would be able to solve the problems facing Balochistan.
He said “the civil-military bureaucracy has always called the shots here” and
added that the situation in the troubled province would remain the same until
the “colonial perception of the rulers” changed and basic issues
such as provincial autonomy were addressed.
I feel I too am entitled to a response to the apology because, like scores
of others, I was on the receiving end of the massive military operations (1973-77)
carried out in Balochistan after the illegal dismissal of the Mengal government
during the PPP's first tenure at the centre. It was in 1978 that I, along with
many Marri families, went to Afghanistan as a refugee fleeing the repression
and ravages of the state against unarmed people and stayed there for 13 long
years in what was a singularly turbulent period in that country's history. I
didn't live in luxury in Kabul but with the people in refugee camps. I am not
a closet nationalist as I have frequently aired my political views in the press.
The stark terror that military operations generate among the populace is beyond
the comprehension of those who have not suffered it. Women and children naturally
suffer the most. Fear haunts you constantly and the slightest hint of approaching
danger is terrifying. Those men unlucky enough to fall into the clutches of the
security forces carry scars for life — if they survive the ordeal. I know
of numerous disappearances during that time of people personally known to me.
Military operations against unarmed civilians are as abominable as they are inexcusable
and the present operations in Balochistan should stop forthwith if a response
is expected from the nationalists.
The life of refugees isn't easy either, especially when the refugee status is
not internationally recognised and the host country is itself in turmoil. Deaths
due to preventable diseases and attacks by enemies of the host leave indelible
scars on the psyche and are neither easily forgotten nor forgiven.
The pain and suffering I witnessed in the Marri area, and that of the Marri population
that was forced to migrate to Afghanistan, was the microcosm of the torment and
anguish that has been the fate of the Baloch people since Partition and which
continues unabated with increasing ferocity with every new chapter of confrontation.
The suffering multiplies many times over as each conflict is upgraded from the
previous one. The grievous wounds inflicted over 60 years cannot be healed with
an apology from a party that will head the next government. Wounds are not soothed
by words alone. Mindsets and ground realities do not change with words. This
apology will not change the ground reality an iota because only institutionalised
change can make a difference. But that requires patience, time and effort, qualities
which have always been in scarce supply in governance here.
The military operations in Balochistan will certainly not be curtailed any time
soon regardless of the party that is in power because the distrust with which
the establishment views the nationalists, and vice versa, is too deep-rooted
to be overcome in the near future. The continued illegal incarceration of Akhtar
Mengal on flimsy grounds and the disappearance of people in the province are
not an aberration but the norm. They are part of a deliberate, calculated and
organised policy aimed at subduing and taming all those who dare to raise their
voice against the injustices that are rampant and relentless in Balochistan.
Sardar Akhtar Mengal's release was the first test for Governor Magsi and he failed
miserably. This alone proves the hollowness of the new appointment. The PPP-led
government there will prove to be even more of a charade in practical terms than
the wording of its apology.
The apology could well be tested shortly after the new government is formed.
Will military operations in Balochistan be halted? Will the building and expansion
of cantonments be stopped? Will the new government be willing and, moreover,
able to remove the fears and grievances that the Baloch people have regarding
Gwadar and other mega projects? Will the fear of being turned into a minority
by the influx of people from other provinces be fully addressed?
Will the new airport in Gwadar be handed over to the CAA to ensure that a military
base is not established there? Will Saindak's unjust income-sharing formula be
reversed to give Balochistan 48 per cent and the centre two per cent? Will they
refrain from using Hingol National Park as a testing ground for the air force?
I don't think there is the remotest possibility of any of this happening — and
unless corrective measures are undertaken there will be no one among the nationalists
who will come forward to talk.
Those who have been calling the shots will not accede to even the most justified
of demands as their financial, commercial and imaginary strategic interests will
be sorely hurt by any such rollback in Balochistan. The party that forms the
government would have to take decisions which could imperil its own existence
and no one goes to that extreme for the children of lesser gods.
The Balochistan policy is too entrenched and too consolidated a policy of the
establishment to see change at the bidding of pliable political parties that
have always been more concerned with catchy slogans and opportunism than with
concrete measures. To expect the PPP and other parties to sacrifice power for
principles is asking for miracles.
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur has an association with the Baloch rights movement
going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Apology to Balochistan
WITH reference to Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur's article (March
24), I agree with the writer that the PPP's apology from
people of Balochistan on behalf of the people of Pakistan
must be tendered in a very formal and decorous manner,
like Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally moved
a resolution in Australian parliament, and on behalf
of parliament and people of Australia apologised for
the injustices being done against the indigenous aborigines.
Balochistan is still bleeding, it has the highest number
of paramilitary checkposts — 900 — the
richest districts of Dera Bugti and Kolu are almost a
battleground, more than 200,000 people have been displaced,
4,000 persons have disappeared, there is no access to
the media and civil society, useless construction of
cantonments are in progress, there is systematic discrimination
against Baloch people in employment opportunities in
Coast Guard, Frontier Corps and the police force.
Even Balochistan's gold-producing Chaghi district has
no electricity or a polytechnic institute. Labour for
unloading wheat from the recently-docked ship in Gwadar
was transported from Karachi. Still people in Islamabad
expect that we should celebrate and not complain.
Baloch plight is appalling and the establishment policy
seems unmoved towards traumatised province.
“I am not a closet nationalist as I have frequently
aired my political views in the press.”
Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
pictured in the Marri mountains
Recent articles include:
Timeless tactics, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Sept 26, 2010
A thoroughly bogus ‘revolution’, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Sept 19, 2010
A tragedy within the tragedy, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Sept 5, 2010
Indecent proposal, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Aug 29, 2010
lives on, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com.pk,
Aug 8, 201
Shikoh: still persecuted, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur,
DailyTimes, Aug 1, 2010
for self-destruction, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur,
DailyTimes, Jul 25, 2010
mistakes, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Jul
Progeny?" Part I, and Part
II, and Part
III, by Mir Mohammad
Ali Talpur, BalochUnity.org, Jun 20, 2010
urgency, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Jun
charge of the Chainsaw Brigade, by Mir Mohammad Ali
Talpur, May 23, 2010, BalochUnity.org
mess, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, May 16,
bridge of indignities, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur,
DailyTimes, May 9, 2010
wrongs never make a right, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur,
DailyTimes, May 2, 2010
the Battle of Algiers, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur,
DailyTimes.com.pk, Apr 25, 2010
again, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes, Apr
Article 370, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes,
Mar 28, 2010
not friends, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Daily Times,
Mar 21, 2010
And disciples, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes,
Mar 7, 2010: "There are some 23,300 nuclear weapons,
made and maintained at enormous cost and enough to destroy
the earth a thousand times over, in the arsenals of eight
gold, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com.pk,
Feb 28, 2010: "Barrick’s track record is pathetic... Considering
the environmental consequences, all licenses to Reko Diq
should be cancelled.
"Musings on Pakistan" Random
Thoughts, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com.pk, Feb 14, 2010
land — they’re not making it anymore, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com.pk, Feb 7, 2010
clique? — II, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com,pk,
Jan 31, 2010
clique? — I, By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, TheBalochHal, Jan 16, 2010
Government," The FC in Balochistan, by Mir Mohammad
Ali Talpur, Jan 23, 2010
Gwadar, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com,
Jan 10, 2010: "Sham mega events and failed mega-projects
are no answer to the aspirations of the people..."
Ground Zero, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com.pk,
Jan 2, 2010
or volitional? by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com,
Dec 26, 2009
meaningful amnesty, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, The
Baloch Hal, Dec 12, 2009
Saindak Saga, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, DailyTimes.com,
Dec 5, 2009
TRC work? By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Oct 7, 2009
Churreteros” By Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Sep
Gulf Widens, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Sep 1, 2009
Balochistan Rugs. Interview
with Jerry Anderson. This text is related to the album
about rugs. (Thanks to Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur for making
us aware of this book.)
for Reko Diq, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Sep 30, 2008: "...There
is a saying in Balochistan that a Baloch child may be without
socks, but when he grows up every step he takes will be
on gold. Reko Diq, Saindak, Sui all prove that the barefooted
Baloch do tread on gold. That this wealth hasn't benefited
them isn't accidental..."
a rollback possible?, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, Dawn.com,
Mar 24, 2008
the reality - IV, Part
I by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, The Post & BalochWarna.org,
Feb. 26, 2007
land is my land, by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, balochwarna.org,
March 28, 2007
A Page from the Past,
by Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur: "In keeping with the Pakistani tradition of camouflaging history a vital chunk of the country’s
past has been shrouded in mystery for over 20 years. This
was the period of 1973-1977, when the Baloch rose in revolt
against a state that had relentlessly oppressed them for
decades and military operations against the Baloch people
were at their peak."
Memories of Another Day: Part I, Part II, Part III, Newsline Special, June 2009; for high res versions, click here: Part I, Part II, Part III
full collection at balochunity.org