Why does Pakistan Ban Books on Balochistan

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Map of Balochistan.
Map of Balochistan.

Some ten years ago, there was a newspaper in Balochistan, the daily “Asap”. After Pakistan government’s intervention its publication stopped in 2000. However, the newspaper decided that a selection of articles and opinions once published in its editorial pages on the issues of Balochistan should get re-published in the form of booklets. This was a decade back. I was Editor of the newspaper’s editorial page during those days and so this task was assigned to me.

The ten year selection was compiled in the form of around sixty books. Each book comprised of two hundred pages. Unfortunately, only thirty to thirty three of them were published and then the newspaper and later the institution itself, inhaled its last breath.

Well, it happened that when the first eight books were compiled, our Editor-in-Chief (the well-known Baloch intellectual and former bureaucrat Jan Mohammad Dashti Saheb), who had been writing in English for a certain time of period, was enthusiastic that some of the selected articles would be translated into English so that the Baloch case reaches to foreigner readers as well. The task was then entrusted to his brother Dr. Naseer Dashti, who had returned from London after completing his PhD in health. He selected twenty to twenty five articles and translated them into English, which appeared in a compilation of two books. This was during the period of 2008. The province was ruled by the Pakistan People’s Party.

A few months after the books were published, the government imposed ban on them. One of our contemporary journalist friends, Malik Siraj Akbar, interviewed Dr. Naseer Dashti for the newspaper “Aaj Kal”. Dr Naseer Dashti laughed over a question at him and said, “It’s a weird spectacle. The articles of this book were published in a newspaper years ago. These articles have been available in the market in Urdu in a book format all these years. To ban the English translations of these books indicates that the government either doesn’t read or is intimidated of it being accessed by the foreigner readers about the Baloch case.” Later on, Dr. Naseer Dashti moved to London to seek political asylum.

Recently, the Urdu translation of a famous English book by the prominent novelist Mohammed Hanif was banned. Its English version was published some eleven years ago.

It is astonishing that English translations of several Urdu books are readily available and accessible in Pakistan and also the copies of original English novels are still easily available in this market. On the other hand, English translation of Urdu writings in Balochistan become banned. However, the original Urdu books are still available today.

Well, what did this prove?

Nevertheless, it has proved that the attitude of the Pakistan government fluctuates and varies in relation to Balochistan. Pakistanis only want to keep the alternative commentary and critical point of view out of the reach of the reader abroad.

Why?

This is because most of the people in Pakistan view Balochistan’s problems as the dominant power of Pakistan.

Remember, the same Muhammad Hanif who wrote his first document on the missing persons of Balochistan, which was translated into Urdu by Wassatullah Khan titled “Gaibistan Main Baloch, Baloch in the Missingistan,” was not considered to be banned. Pakistan’s mainstream media likewise narrates the narration of authorized power in concerns especially with Balochistan and their endurable case.

In Balochistan, if anyone screams, shouts intensively and cries either in Urdu or Baluchi, then it’s like a situation in a jungle where no one witnesses a peacock’s dance. Also, if anyone screams, agitates and shouts angrily in Pakistan about the Balochistan issue then it doesn’t seem much difficult to shut him off. However, it reminds everyone in Pakistan that this sound should not get out of the boundaries of the country.

So that you will see, the alternate narrators in Balochistan in regard of English version will either get out of the country, or go abroad. If you stay longer in the country you will go “missing”. And if you are alive, you will be put into the list of declared traitors or agents.

And of course there are signs for the wise.

(Translation: Almaas Baloch)

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