A Baloch perspective on the Balochistan problem
Renowned journalist Kiran Nazish reviewed my book, The Redefined Dimensions of Baloch Nationalist Movement for the fresh edition of The Friday Times (Lahore), Pakistan’s first independent English weekly. I am reproducing the piece here for the interest of my readers.
Balochistan is an important but complicated issue. The stability of the province is indispensable not just for Pakistan but also for its neighbours, other countries in the region, and for key world powers. But the problems with this resource-rich province are endless, and have been growing over time.
Malik Siraj Akbar discusses the factors that fuel these problems, how they are interlinked, and how they have worsened, in his book called The Redefined Dimensions of Baloch Nationalist Movement.
A prominent Baloch journalist and the founder and chief editor of Baloch Hal, Malik Siraj Akbar is also a Hubert Humphrey scholar and a fellow at one of Americas top journalism schools – the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.
He attempted to answer many unraveling questions in his recently launched book, giving an echoing reference of the true conditions in the frayed Baloch land. From the strategic importance of the penetrable borderline this province de-margins, to the simmering sentiments of Baloch separatist insurgency, this book insightfully covers each heated debate that has rocked Balochistan’s political, social and cultural climate for the seven most crucial years in its history.
The author has specially mentioned in the book that it is not meant for academic reference. The journalistic account records mind boggling information – news stories that are featured on TV one day but lose their importance and fall behind other headlines the next – from the two girls who were were attacked with acid by two unidentified men for not observing hijab, to the men who disappeared one day from a Baloch vicinity. Stories and accounts discussed in this book cover a massive array of topics that trouble this tribal land where freedom does not come easy for a common man, illiteracy is promulgated to keep population under control of the wayward feudal system, and the feudals themselves struggle for recognition by the federal government and other provinces.
The importance of this book lies in its discussion of where these issues originate – dis-empowerment, poor education and abuse of women, and the recruitment of children for militancy. The book establishes that the government, especially post-Musharraf, has deserted the province and the army and ISI have an overwhelming role, because of which the insurgency is now getting out of Islamabad’s control. It shows why reconciliation efforts, like the 18th Amendment and the NFC awards, have been unable to stop the Baloch from pursuing what they call a nationalist movement.
The book makes revelations that allow new ways of approaching the mysteries that complicate the problems in Balochistan, but stops short of outlining any possible solutions to the problem, or even a framework under which the Baloch liberation could really take place. It is a great read nevertheless. (Courtesy: The Friday Times, Lahore )