How Panjgur is losing the battle

panjgur dates

By Malik Siraj Akbar

I have not been blogging for the past few days. I was in my hometown of Panjgur to celebrate the Eid festivities. Panjgur is located on Pakistan-Iran border. For a long time, the place has been popular for its delicious dates. People no longer flaunt about the dates of Panjgur nowadays after a virus called Sherago caused severe damage to the date production. The problem has been there for more than four years with the provincial agriculture department doing too little about it despite the ironic fact that the provincial agriculture minister, Mir Asadullah Baloch, belongs to the same district.

Panjgur is one of the few places in Balochistan where tribal system was abolished centuries ago. Therefore, one can feel the presence of a large middle class in the area. It is the home to a lot of struggling young men (women still have a longer way to go) to make their mark in the practical life.

Towns like Khudabadan, Gramkan and Sordo have proudly given birth to a few well-known individuals who came from lower or middle class families of Panjgur. Yet, they rose to top positions in the province of Balochistan by virtue of personal commitment to their goals and undeterred struggle.

These proud sons of Panjgur, who have personally impressed me, include:

Waja Faqir Baloch: Born in Gramkan and served as a Chief Secretary of Balochistan

Waja Abdul Malik Baloch: Born in Gramkan and served as a Deputy Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan.

Hakeem Baloch: Born in Gramkan, served as the Acting Chief Secretary of Balochistan, authored more than a dozen literary books in Balochi, Urdu and English languages and is known among the founding fathers of Baloch Students’ Organization (BSO).

Kachkol Ali Baloch: Born in Gramkan, served as the Leader of the Opposition in Balochistan Assembly during the gruesome military regime of Pervez Musharraf.

Ayub Baloch: Born in Sordo and served as the secretary information in the government of Balochistan.

Haji Abdul Qayyum Baloch: Born in Khudabadan in August 1925, he laid the foundation of the Balochi Academy, Quetta, the world’s largest academy of Balochi language.

Dr. Naimatullah Gichki: Born in 1942 in Sordo, Dr. Gichki is a renowned Balochi language writer.

When you walk in Mekran (the region comprising of Panjgur, Turbat and Gwadar), one of the first things you notice is the stiff competition between the people of Panjgur and Turbat. While both the districts have had marvelous collective contributions for Balochistan, internally they undergo a constant debate as to who is doing better in the domains of education, civil service examinations and possession of jobs.

During the 1990s, Panjgur went through tremendous social transformation with the establishment of some stupendous private educational institutions. Zahir Hussain, rather Sir Zahir Hussain, as the locals call the USA-educated pioneer of The Oasis Academy, undeniably had the greatest contribution for this social transformation of the society. The Oasis Academy, which was previously called as the American English Language Center, inculcated modern and progressive thoughts in the minds of the students and gave them a modern vision of life. Today, hundreds of students from this particular academy in one of the most backward parts of Balochistan have walked out of their district to attain higher education. Social change is an evolutionary process. It takes a lot of time. Sir Zahir had the patience and the courage to dream. He truly brought a change in his area.

Today, you find many young men from Panjgur straining for a better future somewhere in someway. This may not appear to be a big change for someone living in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore or even Quetta. I still consider it as a major change when kids living in huts and wooden cabins of Balochistan yearn for change. It always takes an age for the smaller change to become a big change noticed by the whole world.

The people of Panjgur claim without any valid reference that they hold more bureaucratic offices in the region as compared to their counterparts hailing from Turbat. According to the Panjguris, the people from Turbat call them “the other Punjabis’. This phrase fits in Balochistan’s larger political arena where the Balochs complain that the Punjabis have dominated every sphere of life.

Despite belonging to Panjgur, I disagree. I have more respect for the collectively struggle of the people of Turbat. Turbat is home to more bookshops, libraries, academies, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and educational institutions. More boys and girls from that town brave to travel and opt for higher learning. What I admire very highly is the liberal mindset of the people of Turbat towards religion and politics.

During my recent trip to Panjgur, I was devastated to see the change in the Panjguri society. Unfortunately, the positive social change has begun to reverse. There is more radicalization of the society than ever before. Pessimism encouraged by the clergy has made the youth absoluate rejectionists. They reject worldly progress. They abhor entertainment. The erstwhile change-makers had now begun to succumb before the orthodoxy. I saw a different Panjgur from the one that I had seen and lived in during my teenage days in 1990s.

The Panjgurian society has stopped reading and intellectually debating on the issues. While we thought the small change brought by the English language centers would one day culminate into a major educational revolution, the change in itself has stopped all in a sudden. Today, you can not get a single English language newspaper in the town. I can recall how easy it was some years ago to get a copy of Pakistan’s premier English language newspapers like Dawn, the News and The Nation or at least the Balochistan Times. Now, you do not get any of these newspapers.

I spoke to a few “liberals” of the town as to why the society was deliberately pushing itself towards backwardness. They made a number of excuses. They said the national English newspapers had stopped coming to Panjgur because there was no proper transportation system. The next moment, I asked if I could get a copy of Zarb-e-Momen, the pro-Jihadi Karachi-based weekly newspaper, I was cheered with a Subhanallah [words of praise], “Oh sure! Why not? Do you want some older issues along with the fresh edition?” It is easy to find Jihadi literature in Panjgur as compared to progressive literature.

On the contrary, the liberals in Turbat have not allowed this to happen. You can still get a copy of Newsweek,Time, the Economist or the Readers’ Digest in the defunct headquarters of the Mekran division. I was very surprised to see dozens of copies of each Urdu novel in a local bookstore there. You can effortlessly grab your copy of works by Asmat Chugthahi, Saadat Hassan Manto, Qurat-ul-Ainn Haider or progressive stuff by Syed Sabat-e-Hassan, Iqbal Ahmed, Tariq Ali and Mubrak Ali. In the local genre, you will not miss Syed Zahoor Shah Hashimi, Murad Saher or Atta Shad.

On the other hand, in Panjgur, home to around three hundred thousand, one cannot get a single English newspaper to read. In terms of Urdu literature, no shop in any corner of this town has a single Urdu novel written by anyone to sell.

I was told that a lot of money was coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and many other Arab countries these days to radicalize the Baloch society. Religious schools are mushrooming. Outsiders are nipping to the town to get education from the religious schools lavishly funded by Arab countries. Interestingly, the language centers that once played a magnificent role in the development of the society have now began to teach the kids the translation of short Quranic verses, the six Kalimas and the religious prayers prescribed for eating, sleeping etc. “Perverted images” from the New American Streamline textbook have been removed and “filthy words” such as “love”, “kiss”, “sexist” have been “carefully rephrased” in order to “ensure” the “sanctity of the classrooms”

The Pakistani Establishment, fully cognizant of these developments, is delightedly viewing this process of Islamization of the Baloch society. Foreign money has made the local clerics of the most influential political and economic stakeholders of the society. More and more foreigners are entering the town without legal documents. In my childhood, I had not heard of Turks and Uzbaks coming to Panjgur. Today’s Jang, Pakistan’s most circulated Urdu newspaper, reports the arrest of three Turks and one Macedonian national from Panjgur. Where do they come from? Who is sponsoring these trips? What is actually happening in my town?

Baloch nationalists in Panjgur have lost to the Mullah and pro-establishment nationalists. The level of nationalistic awareness has embarrassingly declined. A town once known for its liberal writers, intellectuals and committed nationalists is gradually derailing. Not many people truly realize in the area how much you lose when you shut a library. It is the society that becomes the biggest loser when cricket/football tournaments and Balochi musical programs stop taking place.

The only “good news” I heard about Panjgur was about the allotment of a huge area in Khudabadan town by the government to the Tabligee Jammat (the group of Islamic preachers) to conduct a huge congregation of the Islamic preachers in the town.

“You see we have become very lucky by now,” boastfully mentioned the young boy sitting beside me on the bus on my way back to Quetta, “Allah has chosen by His blessings the town of Panjgur for this august annual gathering. Every year, around two hundred thousand Muslims come from Iran, Afghanistan and all over Pakistan to cogitate about the fate of the Muslim Ummah.”
“Has the government allotted land for any libraries in the area,” I inquired.
“What are they?” he asked back.
“Oh sorry. You don’t kno them. Are there any universities in the area for the students?” I tried to find out.
“No. There are no transportation facilities. Who will come and go to a university?” he replied.
“Has the government provided the town with a railway track by now?” I asked again.
“No. No one takes interest in the development of the area,” he added.
“Any industrial units?” I went on.
“No. They are an agent of distraction. If you have a lot of money around you then you will never think about your life hereafter. We are glad we don’t’ have them,” he explained.
“So who makes arrangements for a mammoth religious gathering in this tiny town,” I asked.
“Allah!” he retorted.

63 thoughts on “How Panjgur is losing the battle

  1. “The only “good news” I heard about Panjgur was about the allotment of a huge area in Khudabadan town by the government to the Tabligee Jammat (the group of Islamic preachers) to conduct a huge congregation of the Islamic preachers in the town.”

    And thus sounded the death knell for Panjgur…

    1. Assallam u Alaikum,
      Braas Siraj, I hope this message finds you in the best of health and happiness, Insha’ALLAH. Braas mann thaeey baaz naam hushkutha o theey likathagin beey wantha gan.Mann o druha Baluch thaey minnat waar an kay thu Baluchani case a dunya a dima zahir kana gay wastha baaz juhd kanagayay, ALLAH theey hamisha hifazat a bikan cha dushmanan, Amen.

      Well braas the thing is tha I have gone through your article written about Pangur and I am also from Panjgur, I must say that I am not agree with your most of the points. Why I can see you as an anti religion person, why I can see you also an exremist when it comes to your opinion about the religion.

      I do respect your opinion but I think I have the right too to express my opinion as well. I am not against the education or
      better life but I think that should be within the boundaries in terms of our culture and religion. If there are madrassas and parents are sending their kids to study there then its their wish and right, if tableeghi jammaath conduct a congregation there and people willingly attend it then why it has to be stopped and its the fact that many of youngsters have gone out of their way having drugs, stealling, snatching etc. came to the right way or path just becuase of the peaceful preaching of this jammath. Baluch’s basically have been and known as practicing Muslims.

      I am also in the favour of the educational institutes and development, but if their is lack of educational institutes, libraries and development work then its our mistake because once we as individuals are ready to deliver then that time we leave our homes and places for better life which is not a bad thing but we should not forget our people / society back at home, sitting any where we can participate for their good.

      If their are Madrassas then who has stopped us to established other educational institutions? why dont we do that? If the religious news papers are there then why dont we make available the other news papers and books? and then let the people have their freedom to choose their way. If the government is not doing enough then why dont we take this responsibility on our shoulder and try to do on our own. Waja Siraj if there are no libraries and isntitutions, you can also do a lot in this regard since you are a very well known and famous in the community, why dont you take this responsibilty and go to the people and generate fund from the people for this noble cause and establish institutions, libraries etc. rather then blaming the religious peoples. If Waja Zahir alone can do it they why dont, you, me and all of us are just sitting here, writing and making speaches cant help it out?

      Its very easy to blames other but by blaming others we cant shift the responsibilities which we have on our shoulders.

      Waja Siraj I am not against the west infact I have been to most of the European and Western countries, but do you think the only success is by following the west? Dear they do have their positive but negative as well and socially they are collapsed in terms of family norms etc. like in technology they have done a tremendous job and today ruling the world, but when you go in their society they dont have a family life, the kids doesnt know what responsibility they have for their parents, they just leave them in old houses, modesty is just a word over there, in public place you can see the opposite sex people acting as per their sexual desires very openly; and they call it freedom, I dont think so it is accepted in the Baluchi tradition and culture. Dear If you dont want the Islamic values in place then do you want us to follow the western social way of life????

      Waja Siraj we should adopt their good things like technology, education etc. but within our cultural and religious values.

      Waja Siraj correct me if I am wrong but what I felt from your article is that you are very much inspired by the western society and their social life? But I think we have our own values and norms and we cant accept that co-society in which their is no self respect of woman but they have named it freedom of women where as the women isonly being used as sex instrument.

      Being allergic with Islamic values is some body on wish but again
      Baluchi culture reflects the Islamic norms and values.

      1. Dear Chaaker Baluch: Thanks a lot for your views. I agree with most of them. You have, however, jumped very fast into conclusions. My write-up does not criticise the religious schools. You should have as many of them as possible. I wish so much money came from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere for the construction of secular schools and libraries. You have lived in European countries; I have not. So you will have a better idea about the great politics that is played on the name of religion. Baloch society is much an older entity.

      2. Assallam u Alaikum,
        I really appreciate your prompt reply. Dear I agree with you with regards to the dirty game which has been played in the name of religion and still being played,and today every body can see the outcomes of those policies. I am also aware of the double standard politics of the so called religious scholars.

        Waja Siraj I didnt jump fast into any conclusion, after reading your article it seems instead of critisizing and disclosing those elements you have started critisizing the religion like you said in your article ”
        ((Interestingly, the language centers that once played a magnificent role in the development of the society have now began to teach the kids the translation of short Quranic verses, the six Kalimas and the religious prayers prescribed for eating, sleeping etc. “Perverted images” from the New American Streamline textbook have been removed and “filthy words” such as “love”, “kiss”, “sexist” have been “carefully rephrased” in order to “ensure” the “sanctity of the classrooms” ))

        Dear if certain elements are playing in the name of religion then we need to disclose them, do you think its worth attacking the religion itself?? If the Quranic verses and different prayers are also being translated for the learners, do you think its something to be critcize?? Regarding the images and filthy words which has been removed or rephrased,, lets not talk about the religion, as you have said ” Baloch society is much an older entity”.
        So do you think our society, culture and traditions by any mean allow any kind of thing pushing us towards nudity and filthy (disgustingly dirty)environment. Such kind of vulgarity is accepted by us but the Quranic verses and prayer translations are not,why and where all this is leading us??

        Dear if we talk about Jihad then I think you also in your capacity doing a great Jihad to aware the world about the injustice and discrimination your peoples are facing since ages, then only labelling a certain group as Jihadi is something misleading the people about the exact meaning of Jihad.

        Dear I also suggest you to visit Panjgur during the annual congregation of Tableeghi Jammaath then only you will come to know that who is making all these arrangements in this tiny town for this religious gathering. Dear they dont have any kind of personal
        or political agenda. And are very peaceful in their preaching thats why even after 9/11 to date they didnt face any problem to carry out their activities in the western and european countries as well.

        Finally dear we have to differentiate between two things:(1). Religion and (2). The social injustice and discrimination which we Baluchs are going through. Dear this injustice and grabbing our resources is by a group of people using only the name of the religion for their personal gains, whereas the religion asked for the social justice, for peoples rights, struggle for the rights, good deeds, if you have enough of wealth then to take care of the needy people around you in terms of Zakaath, obey your parents, respect your elders, encourage you to visit the people hospitalised in hospitals or at home, to have education, to give education etc. in short properly following the religion means having a society without any kind of social injustice.

        Our elders like Shaheed Nauroz Khan just only because of the name of Quran went into the hands of enemy means our elders were practicing muslims, and who has to be blame the religion or shaheed or the enemy, definetely the enemeny because it shows they have no respect for the religion and the holy book and they can manupulate or cheat us in the name of religion whenever they want for their personal gains.

        So we i think rather than critisizing the religion by any means better to disclose the group of people misleading the world in the name of religion and doing social injustice.

        With thanks and warm regards.

      3. Dear Chaaker Baluch,
        I know what you are trying to say. You are not the first person with this opinion. You have a right to possess an opinion as much as I do. From my writings, I am sure you understand that I at least do not belong to the school of thought that thinks like you.
        I come from a school of thought which looks at religion as a tool of blackmailing, exploitation and dominance. I do not want to enter into any kind of discussions on the religion given the fact that you are writing to me from Panjgur where it is very easy to malign a writer or a thinker as ‘ kafir’ and ‘anti-islam” to make him an outcast.
        Therefore, I am trying my level best to avoid a comment on the issue of religion which comes as a shield as well as a base for some people to attack those who think differently. The comments posted on this blog from different readers clearly show how the majority of the people view this issue.
        Once again, let me bluntly make it clear that I do not support the dominance of religion on any society. Religions are good as long as they teach you good manners. But again you could be a good human being, who does not tell lies or steal things, even without formally subscribing to any religion of the world.
        Religions become problematic when they try to intrude into people’s bed-rooms, they become a tool of exploitation by the Mullah saying that if you vote for book then it amounts to voting for Allah and blah blah blah.
        The example of Nawab Norauz Khan that you have given simply shows how Pakistani establishment uses religion to deal with the innocent and simple Balochs. Norauz Khan was such a naïve man that he truly believed the army would grant him amnesty by swearing on the Quran. He disarmed and trusted them. If you have given me the example of this particular incident, I am sure you also know the consequences of that particular deal struck by Nawab Norauz and the Pakistan army were.
        They incorportaed the State of Kalat in Pakistan by saying that we were Muslims. They will only use Islam as a tool to guard their interests. Islam is not not the first religion in the world that was used by the clergy to blackmail a society or purse their vested interests. It happened everywhere in the world. So it will continue as long as some people’s interests are attached to playing the politics of religion. If religions could develop societies and empower people, NWFP or Afghanistan would not become the hell they happen to be today.

      4. Assallam u Alaikum,

        Braass thanks for your kind reply and thanks for clearifying that from which school of thoughts you are belong to. Dear dont worry no body is gonna label kafir on you since at the minute Iam not writing this from Panjgur, even if I was in Panjgur you need not to be worried because you belong to Panjgur as well. Secondly dear in Panjgur you can find atheist as well but I didnt see any body giving them any kind of harm, and very openly they debate and try to justify their views / thoughts. And Kaafir is an arabic word means non believer basically use for those who doesnt believe on Islam having no faith on Islam and any muslim if call him Kaafir then I think he should not be offended since it means non believer and have the courage to face it. But as per my little knowledge I have heard from the scholars even though no body should call him kaafir because you tommorrow he or any from his generation will be blessed with the right path. Any how dear I am not here to offend any body, just clearifying few things.

        Dear I dont agree with your comment about religion saying”I come from a school of thought which looks at religion as a tool of blackmailing, exploitation and dominance”.

        Its not mention in any where in our religion to black mail or to exploit or dominate. Religion didnt ask you to incorporate the state of Kalat with Pakistan, religion didnt say voting mullah’s means voting ALLAH(S.W.T). what happened / happening in Afghanistan not because of the religion. Again as I said earlier a group of people is responsible for all these, misusing the name of the religion as a tool for their personal / political agendas.

        Dear most of your nationalist parties I can say more than 95 percent just making us fool, so you gonna blamce Baluch Nationalism, 99 percent of your beurocrates are involved in corruption so are you going to blame the Baluch Nation for it, definetely NOO because they are some individuals making us fool and exploiting us. And one more thing all these educated people I mean by the natinalists and beurocrates have got any kind of education from any madrassas and making us fool and exploiting us because of the religion or ????

        Dear you can be from any school of thoughts I dont mind thats your choice but my request is rather than blaming the religion please do uncovered the faces responsible for all this or behind this.

        And finally dear I will ask you one thing do you believe on Baluchi traditions and cultures, if yes then I think in Baluchi culture and traditions there is no place for nudity and filthy (disgustingly dirty)environment. So please dear for the sake of Baluchi traditions and culture and for the sake of new generation do not promote somthing leading us towards the said environment.

        Thank you and warm regards.

  2. I must add the first step towards it was “The Oasis Academy”. You might not agree but like you yourself say:

    The Oasis Academy, which was previously called as the American English Language Center, inculcated modern and progressive thoughts in the minds of the students and gave them a modern vision of life. Today, hundreds of students from this particular academy in one of the most backward parts of Balochistan have walked out of their district to attain higher education. Social change is an evolutionary process. It takes a lot of time. Sir Zahir had the patience and the courage to dream. He truly brought a change in his area.

    Don’t you see the treachery of that? What you “appreciate” actually led to the brightest of Panjgur leaving it — a brain-drain — so what has taken it’s place was to be expected.

    They say road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here we have a classic example of it!

    1. Dear Nota. The reason I admire that is that the loca youth began to find thier ways for better opportunities in life. Panjgur or the entire Mekran region does not have a single univeristy. Therefore, if the students do not get out of their area, they will never know about the much larger world. It was essential for them to get out, access universities and better educational institiutions to show that they wanted a change in their personal lives.

  3. Dear Siraj, I get your point and I hope you see mine too. Sort of a catch-22 isn’t it? Let’s hope those that get out DO find a way back home or else the future — well, you can imagine…

  4. Waja Siraj Jan, awli gap hamey gosheg lutan, tai baaz baaz minnat waaran tau kammo time kasht, wati blog a update kaneyge wasta, man ham rooch tai blog check kota nukey articles Baluchistan e babata.

    Anyway, as about the current situation in Panjgur, to the extent of my knowledge. It is happening everywhere; Pasni, Karachi, Gwadar and so on. pakisani nationalism was never appealing to Baluchs in general so this is another act by the central govt. to get Baluchs on board but through religious band-wagon. I am no athiest or vice versa but I cannot see this ultimate brainwashing of Baluchs and thus leaving us with nothing to be proud of, our secular values of hospitality and etc. Whatever is happening, its totally wrong. I’ve seen my childhood friends/cousins turned so different in past years. Its sad. But there are also Baluchs to blame too who bring foreign religious expenditures mainly from Gulf countries and also govt. which helps to co-ordinate such activities. I don’t why these so-called “Friends of Pakistan” forum can’t see how this country is turning another group into religious freaks. same they did with the Pashtuns and now they are paying the price dearly. Sad and really Sad!

    Washey braat, bebaksh sakh mazney comment e yalda. bas wati zaar kashi giya. Tau dil a bedaar ma Turbati yana towaar kaney Panjguri yani latt a geyrant e watt shar bayan kkkk. jk

    Huda e mayaar e waja

  5. Dear Siraj,
    Thank you for this eye opening article. We are proud of having a great journalist like you. One thing I wanted to bring into your attention is that the Date palms, that punjgur is famus for, were not infected by any virus, like ‘Shergo’ as you have mentioned here. This is a paki propaganda to hide the facts and their evil crime that they committed against Baloch people. The real fact is that this is due to the nuclear radiation that Paki detonated their Islamic Bomb in Chagi, the area, which is not too for from Panjgur. It was the spread of that nuclear raditaion which caused drying of under ground water, hence drying of Rakhshan river, loss of these beutiful palm trees, the people’s livelihood. The radiations in the air have caused these palm tree to look like that, that you see now. A nuclear investigation team would confirm this if allowed under UN auspices, which pakis would never do. Let’s not buy Paki propaganda or be a part of it. Let’s demand full investigation. Thank you.

    1. Dear DK Blaoch:

      Thanks for reading this note and taking out time to share your valuable views. Honestly, I am not an agriculturist or a physicist. Therefore, I will not pass a judgment except agreeing with your recommendation that an investigation into the matter should be conducted by the international teams.

  6. This is not the only Panjgur’s problem, but the entire Balochistan is in the gripp of these tableegi Mullah and Missionaries who are trying their best to change the Baloch secular movement and culture by sedating them with islamic Ummah pills to counter Baloch Nationalistic secular movement. This a dangerous trend and we Baloch nationaist must act to stop it and come up with some counter effects to prevent and challenge these Paki-Saudi sponsored Mullahs to preserve and protect our secular cultaure and Baloch traditions.

    1. Dear BEDAAR BALOCH:

      Now that most of us agree that the expansion of the activities of the Tableegis is not the problem of Panjgur alone, we have to start debating about the second and the more important part of the issue which is the absence of any antidote for this phenomenon. The educated young people of the area have to stand up. You need to apply a multi-faceted strategy. You should arrange more musical programs and sports events in the area. Likewise, there should be more libraries and educational institutions to cater for the needs of the educated young Balochs of Panjgur. I am shocked that the youth of Panjgur today is not as active as it was once upon a time. It is hopeless.
      I do not say that it is the ONLY the responsibility of the Baloch nationalists. Sadly, Baloch nationalist parties are good for nothing. Not a single Baloch nationalist party has a website of its own. No political party has a blood bank or an ambulance. How on the earth are they going to cogitate about these more important issues like secular education of Baloch people, a culture of reading newspapers and books for our children.
      I have been very clear about it that everyone has a role to play in the current situation. Even if you are a young man who is not a “nationalist” but someone who is interested to take CSS examination then you should also know that your interests are in danger. For all those who want to do CSS or become doctors in the future, I must say they need good educational institutions in Panjgur or in their native towns before coming to Quetta or a bigger city in order to get a strong educational background. Irrespective of who you are and what you want to do, just remain cautious that your interests are being jeopardized.

  7. IF u observe and start counting, you will surely find more Madrissas than so called Cantt Chaonees. These Madrissas are playing the role of creating Biased religious men, who always loudly claimor that become a muslim otherwise you will be killed, which is totally different than the Islam introduced by Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
    Malik you really are a good son of a soil, the solution to this problem is exactly the same as u mentioned. Our elders failed to pave the bright path for us, but we can bridge the gap. We need more Malik Siraj and other real good Baloch sons of soil to counter these problems, for this we should motivate our youth and youngsters to get more n more education, we should encourage them to access good education and educational institues.

    Good public libraries should be opened volateerly by the locals as no one including the fraud public representitives or the govt. is going to do so. and we all must keep highliting all the national issues and their solutions and yess every vision without action is only day dreaming.

    1. Dear MEERAN:
      We should stop fully relying on the government to do everything for us. It is the responsibility of some community leaders ( not religious leaders, for God’s sake) to realize that the mental growth of our young people has stopped for some reasons. What should we do to revive that? This issue is a little bid different from the nationalistic Baloch conflict against Islamabad and Punjabis. In this peculiar case, you have the local people of your area endangering your interests. This is the most dangerous thing that your enemy is distracting the younger Baloch generation from education, economic development and nationalistic awareness with the help of your own illiterate or semi-literate people.

  8. It is only possible when we keep debating such issues and as i said before good public libraries containing different sorts of books should be opened in towns, we have to common the reading habbit in youth, we can’t here rely on the so called available teachers in towns but you hav to tell the youth volunteerly, via student org’s or atleast we can instruct the youngsters in our own families to make the books their friends as this will help them understanding the diff faces of life and diff thoughts. once you conveince the youth for reading then volunteerly one should open book shops and then a library should be opened.

  9. This comment was made by Sadika Hameed on FACEBOOK about the note.

    “Awesomely written! Perhaps the best writing style I have seen so far in all your work. Well done! And the content is really interesting and engaging. So Mr. Akbar…. how do you do it?!?!?!?!?

    1. Nasir Ali Sajjad’s comment on Facebook:
      “Thanks for sharing information and yours concerned regarding multi-faceted issues their in Pungure. Along with many issues on those being a writer and researcher you did your job well now it is the duty of the concerned people to extend theirs contribution to see the things but in few areas you can still can make a difference like you should write a lot on shiragoo issue, you might have written articles but this area needs a great attention.”

      1. Meer Abdul Razzaque Talpur’s comment on Facebook:
        You articale give us knowledge about Panjgure but we have listen that in Makran division there is no Pak flage except govt Building but this is an other picture of the Area.When i read your writing about Balochistan.I see these same issues with us,SINDH.I think Tableeghi Jamait is founded by Agencies during Gen Hamid Gul.When they Tableghi team … Read Morevisit the area they already have Maps and information about area and people,When they stay in mosqu they prepare secrete report about area ,people,their economic condition,their behavour ,habits and some other Knowledge to their centre or some where.It is not only funded by Arab but also by Estabishment and Agencies.Tableeghi Jamait’s first strive is that more and more people join with them,there first preach is we are all muslim and Pakistani,God created us for pray and preach,who ever go with them, God bless upon him.
        The aim and goal of the Tableeghe Jamait is to make Sindhi and Balochi as Pakistani and undermine the nationalsim.They slect particular Area for their task. Unfortunatly to us in sindh’s rural are and cities they succeed tp get support becuse there is no resistance from Liberal and people not much educated.That is cancer for sindhi and Baloch societies.

      2. Miroo Baloch’s comment on Facebook:
        Thank you for putting me into my past, I was visited panjur in may 1998 last time. But I have lot of friends from Panjgur. Yes Panjgur is aslo infected from Jehadi diseases where some forgein elements are also preparing a new force of religious streamists in madris and religious schools. These elements are also managing religious getherings (… Read Moretabligi ijtema) time to time in Gwadar, Turbat and Panjgur from last 5 years.
        The main targets (I think) of these elements are putting local peoples into marsh of isolation, reducing their economic power, building them Pauper/dependable and getting full control of region.
        In easy words its mean they producing our emeny from our blood.

      3. Jalil Dashti’s comment on Facebook:
        “It’s a wonderful article Malik. Unfortunately you got to realized this when you visited your HOMETOWN for eid. You should have been conscious about your hometown years before. I got to realize that you hardly visit your hometown. What do you expect from those less educated and backward people to do when the educated and established people like you … Read Morewould be far away from the town. People learn from anywhere they get the source, and when the source are out of town, they definitely get some alternatives. And this alternative they got is from those Tableegi Jamats. The english language centres may be good for societies but within the boundaries. What the people need is the environment and these tableegi jamat provide this facility to the people. They create the environment which should have been made by the people like you. The decline in awareness of the people of Panjgur is natural, due to decline in supply of proper environment and education by their experienced people.”

      4. Dear Jalil: You are observations are hundred percent correct. I have never felt that ashamed in my whole life over my inability to play my due role properly for the younger generation of Panjgur. You are right I have stopped visiting Panjgur for a long time. However, I had been following this gradual change. What disturbs me the most today is the … Read Moreabsence of young people who dare to stand before this situation. I did not meet a group of people who could tell me that this process of radicalization was unacceptable to them and they wanted a change in their academic and economic lives.
        Islam has always been there in our society but not with such an alarming face.
        I am depressed that these preachers spread hopelessness among our youth. They leave them good for nothing. They dissuade them from education, businesses and politics and take them to Punjab (in Raiwand to be precise) to make them better Pakistani Muslims.
        Thank you again for your insight.

      5. Young Indian scholar Raja Karthikey gave the following comments on Facebook about this note:
        Excellent article. Nations are won and lost one town at a time. Panjgur’s story is amazingly moving.
        At least three rapid social transformations are happening here:1. The poorest have reached such a state of cynicism and have so resigned themselves to their fates that they now look at even economic progress with suspicion.
        2. Religious… Read More conservatism was never equal to religious radicalism. But, it is being forced in that direction now.
        3. As for the middle class, the absence of opportunities is pushing middle class youth into the arms of the clergy, who through their superior resources and their tight social network, can offer the youth everything from a job to a wife. The clergy feel they are merely bringing more “wayward” youth into the path of God and that a few worldly rewards are always helpful. This perpetuates and bolsters a network of conservative young men. But then, radical groups feed off these cons.networks. and that sows the seeds of regression n violence.

      6. Qurat Ul Ain Siddiqui, a Karachi-based journalist, commented on Facebook:
        “oh malik.. this is so sad.. 😦 i had no idea radicalisation at this scale was happening in Balochistan.”

      7. Mir Shai Mazar Baloch’s comment from Facebook:
        “Malik a well Written article high-lightening the Jehadis but due to one other reason we are getting away from educational institute, as the young not studying since they are thinking we will be liberated what we will get by studying and it is a very alarming I hope the sense will prevail among youth and they will start going back where they supposed to go.”

      8. Seema Khanum Pashambay’s comments from Facebook:
        Dear Malik, Awesome! I must say. While reading your well-written article a cold shiver went through my spine when I imagined possible transformation of our Baloch society in few year time into a Jehadi and extremist and Fanatic Islamic one.
        Balochs have always been a secular nation and we have never let religion become an issue, best example is co… Read More-existence of Namazi and Zikri Balochs without inter-meddling or hurting each-others’ religious sentiments. This new development in Panjgur is really really disturbing and alarming as well. This infusion of religious fanaticism amongst simple and naive Baloch population of Panjugur is a big conspiracy of those who really want Balochistan minus Balochs.Religious fanaticism and extremism will take us towards a cul-de-sac situation – which is the ultimate goal of those Aniti-Balochs elements. Please try to highlight this issue as much as possible. People of Panjgur must realize the conspiracy behind the facade of this religious development.

      9. Dear Seema: Thank you for your insight. You have given an excellent example of coexistence between Namazi and Zikri in the Baloch society. When we talk of secularism, it simply does not mean the rejection of religion or Islam. Yes, almost everyone living in Mekran is a Muslim. So what is the need for making extra efforts to make people “better … Read MoreMuslims”? This is the place from where I begin to have my reservations. I have met so many young people. Because of the growing influence of the religious elements, they have begun to hate this life and worldly achievements. You see, we Balochs are a weak people. Our population is the smallest. We can not afford to lose our valuable youth in this way. We have to work on urgent basis to polish the Baloch youth so that they help their society.
        Instead of spending 40 days or four months in Raiwand in Punjab why can’t we make some arrangements for technical training for the Baloch youth somewhere in someway.
        Instead of spending 40 days or four months in Raiwand in Punjab why can… Read More’t we make some arrangements for technical training for the Baloch youth somewhere in someway. Do you not think forty days or four months are a sufficient period to train our youth in such a way that they will not only learn about their rights but with the newly acquired skills they will be economically empowered. They will benefit their families and the larger society as well. In forty days or four months, you can get a diploma in computer courses or technical works. Let’s seriously think about it. On the contrary, when our youth go to Raiwand for the same period, they return with conservative views. They do not thing but stay inside the mosques throughout their lives. They become handicapped as they even fail to win bread for their own children as they keep saying that Allah will feed their children.
        Qurat: You see radicalization is the biggest tool of the pakistani establishment. They will do it anywhere and any time if they get a chance. The Establishment feels the need for radicalization in Balochistan more urgently than elsewhere in the wake of growing nationalistic sentiments.
        @Raja Karthikeya: Excellent conclusions. Had two things to ask. How would you differentiate between “Religious conservatism” and “religious radicalism”. What do you think needs to be done to reverse this change in a situation where the middle class is prone to expolitation of either the federalist elements or the clergy?

      10. Seema Khanum Pashambay’s response on Facebook:
        “Malik you are absolutely right. This religious fanaticism, if it grows with same magnitude, will eat away our youngsters and they will at the end of the day be empty handed and having no other option but to cower their faces inside mosques. This fanaticism and extremism must not grow. Not only will it destroy our youths’ life but also be a big … Read Moresource of rising war between Namazi and Zikri sects and might bring catastrophic changes in Baloch culture and socio-economic life. We must do something to stop this monster approaching threshold of our lives, Which unfortunately has already crossed.
        Religious fanaticism and extremism is such a fever which completely plagues the entire socio-economic set up of those who without considering or thinking of its negative & devastating impact embrace it. Afghanistan, Swat are prime example of Islamic radicalism.Religious extremism will give nothing in return but intolerance, prejudice,backwardness … Read Moreand rigidity towards positive change. At this juncture of time we Baloch cannot afford such a big hiccup: Religious Fanaticism. This will push our Baloch Society back to stone age.
        Malik, they know it very well that Balochs be Namazi or Zikiri collectively are secular people while the entire Mekran region is one of the most educated places in Balochistan so to bring this development to a halt, they are trying to adopt this strategy of religious extremism. They want to hammer our peoples’ minds with religious orthodoxy. They want them to confine and minimize Baloch’s thinking to a very limited vision of religion and fanaticism.

      11. SEEMA: I have three predictions for this situation.
        Firstly, foreign Sunni fighters would be brought to the area under the disguise of Janduallah etc to destabilize the Shia State of Iran.
        Secondly, to cause disunity among the liberal, progressive and educated Balochs of Mekran by generating differences between the Nimazis and Zikris. We know … Read MoreZikris have a remarkable role in the local economy and bureaucracy. Once they confront each other, our collective enemy will take the dance floor.
        Thirdly, as more young Balochs opt for radical Islam, they will reject worldly education. There is no doubt that Mekran is the most progressive and educated part of Balochistan. The enemy wants to stop this rapid educational growth and free ideas. Hence, religiously motivated young men will forcefully shut down the private English medium schools in the area. They will prevent the Baloch girls from attending schools and colleges. That is the strategy of our enemy to kill us forever.

      12. Dear Mir Sahi Mazar:
        You hightlighted the same issue which both of us had previously discussed after the PTV Bolan show during Ramzan. In this note, I am not blaming anyone. All that I am trying to do is to draw people… Read More’s attention over the phenomenon of distraction [from education]. You see this situation is equally alarming for those who are not nationalists. I mean if you want to do CSS ( and join Pakistani bureaucracy) or become a doctor, you need to have good progressive educational background. You have very beautifully concluded that let’s hope that sanity prevails and we do something to overcome this reversal of a positive change. Mekran is the land of progressive people and this distinct quality must be preserved by all means.ongoing Baloch nationalist movement to such an extent that one should stop going to college or university with the hope that Balochistan would be liberated shortly equally amounts to committing suicide.
        I have seen many students who come from remote parts of Balochistan to the provincial capital. The biggest problem they face during the medical college entry test or PCS and CSS examinations is their weak educational background.

      13. From Mir Shai Mazar Baloch on Facebook:
        yeah you right I am not blaming any particular but I agree now the Kech is more progressive than us but the students from all over mekran are very had working as I am working in the Uni and I have seen them how much they r committed with studies but the Arab Money is radicalizing our society but I hope our youth will come forward and stop the radicalization and they all the potentials as I have my trust on them

  10. Wendy Johnson made the following comment on Facebook:

    Yes, awesome! Thanks for the insight! And just to confirm: despite modern reversals of fortune, am I correct in my reading–that one reason this area made progress was due to the lack of a tribal/sardari system? Thanks, this article is really educational!

    1. Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur’s comment on Facebook:
      “Waja, this is truly depressing news. Once they get a stranglehold they will suffocate all other views. I wonder if dedicated people like you who know and understand the people there could get together to put up obstacles in path of this deadly juggernaut.”

      1. Saif Sajidi’s comment on Facebook:
        well written Siraj jaan.. i agree with you..
        When i was in my school education in a remote area of balochistan.. i used to listen about the ” American Englisg center ” in Panjgoor i used to think God.. y i do not have a relative in Punjgoor to go and study there in ” American English launguage center…i was not able to go there.. but today its … Read Morevery easy for people to go there for the religious gatherings in punjgoor every year thousands of people go there and they get free transportaion accomondation infact every thing.. and someone told me they get money too….
        and what you have written is the story of whole Balochistan.. i belog to khuzdar the situation is even worst in my area…this is the story of whole Balochistan
        every body understand these people are backed by whome.. but still i do not under stand y ? for what? what are there Goals…and what they want???

  11. A.wahab AlBalooshi’s comment on Facebook:

    i dont know why people take tribal or sardari systems responsible for the backwardness of a city.. there are many cities who donot follow sardari or tribal systems.. among them also panjgur proved to be the best in all fields specially educational level. But i feel that its the government who is trying to keep panjgur more backward then the other… Read More … Read Morecities , because they know that panjguris have proved themselves, and if their city is developed and they are provided with facilities then they can be dangerous to the i see there are many developments in the other areas where panjgur was not included, like a train network or a proper road network connecting panjgur to other cities.

  12. Seema Mustafa’s comment on Facebook: ” What an absolutely excellent article. Needs to be widely circulated. If you don’t mind will use it on The Front Page to begin with…”

  13. Dear Siraj…

    I really liked it as some factors were always present in Panjguri society and they are intensified now, I agree.

    There were many mosques throughout Panjgur that were built are run from the religious benefaction from Saudi Arabia and Egypt etc. Since the finances are completely provided by them, somewhere they are trying to inculcate their dogmatic views as in Panjguri society, we know the Mosques are more than a praying place and often people gather to plan and travel in preaching groups.

    I know many guys from Panjgur who are really, that what I believe, the true representatives of Baloch and I am very much impressed from their consistency and hard work. I wrote something about CSS and self build-up on other bog and I was surprised to hear a Baloch friend responding after having a look at it that “We are Baloch and in CSS we have to study Pakistan affairs and the theories relating to it so we better boycott from it”. I mean who will come if one has this approach. The others argue that by making a group for CSS preparation with four friends from Panjgur and having high hopes is like living in unrealistic paradigm.

    I think other than religious extremists, you also have to deal with these fatalistic mindsets. One will have his say in center if he or she has acquired some position in the mechanism of Bureaucracy too. I was in conversation with Madam Saira Atta, from Awaran and she remarked a very good point that if we have to make a difference, we generally have to go forward and not only staying stagnant on political catchwords.

    I must add you in the list too and I think you are the first person which comes in my mind when I think of the people who themselves craved to move ahead. You have studies from same Government Model High School which has produced many alumni who are doing very good in public and private sectors. I think one does not need heaps of money but just a little clear vision of going ahead, particularly speaking of the youth from Panjgur.

    When I was a schoolboy in Panjgur, the competition was really on with the makran contenders(though Gwadar was not very much in it) and whatever the services of Sir Zahir are, is a big example of developmental effervescence. In his capacity, he established a Language center that did not have chairs for students for a long time. But what we have in return is very much encouraging and the first batch of it, including yourself, has somewhere acquired your places in your fields by the help of having a platform of a language center that helped metropolis folks mesmerize about the townsfolk having command in English. It helped them in acquiring many jobs which the city dwellers could not make.

    I have heard about the dates malady and I have seen this when the famine was on the full swing some ten years ago in Panjgur. Agricultural reforms should be made by the Government in terms of small-loans and pesticide sprays.

    I am dejected to read about the literary materials being scarce in Panjgur district. This was not the condition before. I remember people having great desire to read urdu novels and discussing their favorite prose-writers and poets. I used to place orders to the only news agency at that time for books and it is shocking that the scenario is different now.

    Coming back to the most important describable point, I don’t know why we have made Islamic teaching as the opposite of worldly education? In a Madarassah, they deny conventional education and in the Schools, they don’t address Islamic studies. We should not stand up against Islamic education. The problem lies in the academia that why they are fail in imparting a better practical education to the students. Why they don’t have the poise? They should be rightly blamed particularly when it comes to private sector schools.

    I still stand on my point that education and awareness is what can take these unsung heroes of Panjgur district very well recognized and they will be taken very seriously provided they try to have strong footings in terms of educational development. Waiting for the Federal Govt. to come and help is what we have been doing for ages. The current youth should be more self-sufficient and they should not be wasted. Having born and lived in Panjgur, my analysis clearly says that guys from Panjgur are second to none to prove themselves but they lack a practical vision and they mix politics with their self-development.

    To conclude with, I don’t like people going for preaching for months and years(some promise for the whole life) leaving their families languishing on others. I know the cause is good but the way is not. Islam, as I know, always states about balanced approach towards religion and life. In the same context, a Sahih Hadith of Holy Prophet flashes my mind when someone told Him about a religious person having in state of worship all the time. Holy Prophet asked him to inquire about his family and their breadwinner. The person told Him that he has a brother who nourishes his family and The Prophet answered that if that pious person’s brother only maintains his prayers, then he is thousands time better in degree of righteousness than his so-called pious brother and that person who does such acts has to be answerable before Allah. It clearly explains it and I have also seen lads laden on the trucks and buses and going for Jihad from Panjgur without the prior consent of their families and their mothers crying from home to home. I think the ones for whom they left their homes to Jihad, are badly exposed as they say that falsehood does perish.

    I really hope for the better.

  14. And beware: Tabligee’s got the men of Panjgur, and Al-Huda will get the women…

    BTW: One must not blame Saudi money for it. Keep in mind the Saudi’s too have masters that pull their strings. I personally believe Tableghee and entities like al-Huda are part and parcel of the same product which is rightly described as “RAND Islam”….

    (Note: The paper linked to under “RAND” above is by Cheryl Bernard, a Zionist Jewess, is the wife of Haramzada Zalmay Khalilzad. It is a MUST READ as you will see a lot of it’s recommendations to counter “real” Islam and promote the RAND version in full implementation mode. The full paper can be downloaded in pdf from here. Appendix C: Strategy in Depth is certainly worth special attention.

  15. Much impressed by your style of stimulating writing, specially wakening Baloch intellectual (whether liberals or religious) responsibility toward his/ her motherland, keep it up,

    Long live Baluch Peoples & Long Live Motherland

    God bless

  16. Great article. Sad and touching. The religious question is daunting. In the United States, Bush rode into the presidency partly on the conservative fundamentalist churches campaigning that a vote for Bush was a vote for God. Look where that took the world. Keep up the brave and good work, Malik.

  17. im from sordo panjgur i have heard a lot about you sir,but now i knew that you are not a mature person,you made urself visible by your article.

  18. hi, dear siraj malik bhai , iam very happy to read ur articles. i wish u a happy and sucessful life .actually my name is Rafeeq Ahmed and i am from nook abad tusp panjgur right now iam working in royal army of oman .

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