Maulana’s Gwadar protests raise several questions

Sea of Baloch protesters in Gwadar, Pakistan-occupied Balochistan (POB).
Sea of Baloch protesters in Gwadar, Pakistan-occupied Balochistan (POB).

A mass movement is currently underway in Gwadar under the leadership of Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman. Before we talk about this movement, let’s go back to the past of Baloch movements.

This was November 2006. Baloch leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal had announced a long march under the name of “Lashkar-e-Balochistan” from Gwadar to Quetta against Pakistani policies.

The martial law administration of Pakistan under President Gen. Pervez Musharaf didn’t waste a second to detain Sardar Akhtar Mengal at his home in Karachi. Dozens were arrested, including Habib Jalib Baloch, the central general secretary of the party, who had gone to Gwadar to organize a march. Due to these arrests, the announcement of long march by Sardar Akhtar Mengal proved to be a mere announcement.

Mama Qadeer Baloch has been campaigning for the recovery of Baloch missing persons for over a decade. He has also carried out the longest long march on the issue. As a result, hundreds more Baloch were forcibly disappeared despite Mama’s lengthy struggle.

A session on the “Baloch”, organized by Sindh Literature Festival in March this year was cancelled due to “unknown” reasons. As far as I know, this session was cancelled due to pressure from Pakistani intelligence agencies. The Pakistani military establishment did not want any dialogue on the Baloch national question in a big city such as Karachi. They had earlier attempted to stop Prof. Shaheed Saba Dashtiari from speaking during a similar programme at the Karachi Press Club. However, Prof. Saba Dashtiari persisted in speaking and was eventually killed for this “crime”.

What did Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti do? He also demanded the rights of Balochistan. Did he ask for extortion or shares from the industries of Lahore or Sialkot? But they also hit him, which he did not know.

The Baloch National Movement (BNM) used to be a dynamic pillar in Baloch national politics. Undoubtedly, it is still the largest non-parliamentary party. What happened to this party is a tragic chapter in our modern political history. Hundreds of party workers, including party leaders, were killed and abducted.

The Baloch Students Organization Azad (BSO-Azad), the largest student organization, was declared a terrorist organization and banned in the country. Two chairmen of the organization went missing and former chairperson, Banuk Karima Baloch was killed last year during exile in Canada.

What is Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman asking and doing which above mentioned personalities and parties have not asked or done? But this time the attitude of the state is different. Maulana has been sitting on a sit-in in Gwadar for the last one month, during which he has also staged public rallies. Not a single person has been touched yet.

Baloch political activists do remember that in 2009 at a public rally in Turbat, the Pakistan Army opened fire on Altaf Baloch, an activist of the Baloch National Movement (BNM) and killed him. Similarly, the Pakistan Army had attacked the memorial service held in memory of Shaheed Mir Jan Meeral in Tump and Banuk Karima Baloch was evacuated from the scene with great difficulty.

This does not mean that I want to defame or undermine the Gwadar sit-in or I want bloodshed. But some questions do emerge in mind, whether the Pakistan Army and establishment have changed its policy or Maulana is so powerful that the army is reluctant to touch him. There are a few more questions. Such as the sudden coverage of the Gwadar sit-in by the Pakistani media, the Jamaat-e-Islami the most important ally of the Pakistan Army intensifying the Gwadar protest, the Balochistan government’s blessings and the deployment of police in Gwadar instead of the FC (Frontier Corps). If it had stopped at this point, my restless heart might not have been more anxious, but the attitude of the army’s paid Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind and the tweet of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have changed the atmosphere.

With regard to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), a theory can be drawn that as the clouds of political change in Pakistan are deepening and the heart has stopped beating, these two parties will make an anti-establishment narrative for the next elections. PTI in particular; but what are the motives behind this soft policy of the army that considers Balochistan as its own property?

Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman, who belongs to the working class, may have good intentions and sincerely want a permanent solution in Gwadar to painful questions like “Where are you coming from and where are you going to?” Their struggle against the economic massacre of fishermen and people may be beyond doubt.

However, when pro-ISI accounts on Twitter are seen campaigning in support of the Gwadar protest, the suspicion arises; the question arises. This suspicion is further strengthened when the Pakistani media declares the Gwadar protest as a movement of Jamaat-e-Islami and Maulana remains silent and doesn’t justify his position.

In the history of Pakistan, fake campaigns like the Nizam-e-Mustafa movement, the movement for restoration of democracy and the movement for restoration of the judiciary have been launched.

Is it just a coincidence that nationalists currently facing enforced disappearances, exile and the worst massacres are being brutally crushed, but they are still blamed? The “Mulla leadership” of the recent Gwadar protests is being highlighted and is being interpreted as a failure of the nationalists. Attempts are being made to give the impression that the struggle for “civil rights” of the people of Gwadar is merely a separate entity that has nothing to do with the Baloch national movement.

According to my understanding, these are not mere coincidences; a deliberate effort is being made to bring the Baloch into the so-called “national mainstream”. The case of our daughters like Sami Din Muhammad Baloch and the Gwadar movement is being attempted to be considered as separate issues.

These emotional youth, who are unaware of the troubles that befell the nationalists, get angry at the question of Anwar Sajidi. However, the question has been our aim. From Nawab Yosuf Aziz Magsi to Saba Dashtiari, our notables Baloch elders have taught us to ask questions.

We should support Maulana Hidayat-ur-Rehman’s movement, The People’s Struggle should be supported at every forum. Masi Zaini’s steadfastness is our pride. However, this support should not be unconditional. The Baloch youth should always keep their eyes open. The Baloch National movement has had to make immense sacrifices to get here. It cannot be sacrificed to any Al-Badri, Al-Shamsi, Insafi or military aspirations.


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