In a virtually connected environment like ours, we are abreast with happenings all across the world. The media has kept us all informed about everything- from the most to the least known parts of the globe. Yet, there are incidents in places which get hidden away due to their apparent “insignificance”. The story of Balochistan is one such example.
Before 1947, Balochistan consisted of four princely states, three of which acceded to Pakistan. However, one of these four wished to remain independent and stalled its accession with Pakistan. After repeated attempts by Pakistan, the Khan of Balochistan finally agreed to accede. However, the Khan’s brother as well as the people did not agree to this. Consequently, the Khan’s brother, declared independence and fled to Afghanistan to seek arms and aid as an act of rebel. It is since then that Balochistan has been struggling with civil unrest- constant insurgencies and nationalist movements. Intentions of seceding from Pakistan were the main trigger of most of these insurgencies. Especially in 1957, when Narouz Khan intended to secede, a Martial Law was imposed the very next day. The Pakistani military bombed hideous, deployed tanks and arrested Narouz Khan and his family. The increased feelings of pro independence in Balochistan fuelled further military intervention in its political arena.
In addition to the violence, there have been numerous human rights violations in the region. Insurgents who rebel against the military often go missing or are executed. Thousands of people just disappear and Pakistani officials either don’t acknowledge these disappearances or claim the figures to be highly exaggerated. Even after commissions being set up to find out the whereabouts of these missing people, there has been no change to this pattern. The violations further include severe military and paramilitary abuse. People who dare to raise their voices or become insurgents either disappear, get tortured and mutilated or just murdered. The Inter-service intelligence (ISI) has often being accused of committing these acts by the planning of secret operations or the forming death squads in Balochistan. However, as expected, all these allegations have always been denied.
Another reason for the neglect of this region is its backwardness in comparison to the other regions of Pakistan. Due to unrest from the very start, the region wasn’t able to grow in any aspect. The lack of opportunities, denial of participation in public discourse and no exposure to the outside world has left Balochistan several years behind the present. The media also has a big role to play in this. It’s forced bias towards the government of Pakistan does not let them unveil the truth behind the atrocities committed in the region. The whole media has become addicted to reporting disaster stories that it finds little time to notice the havoc done by food insecurity, lack of employment opportunities, shortage of medicines, or the risks in travelling or in living in mafia-ruled towns and villages. It must never be forgotten that Balochistan publications were the first to be banned after the creation of Pakistan and the history of journalism in that part of the country has been an endless struggle by a large number of people. Due to the lack of media coverage, the outside world also stays in the dark.
Pakistan seems to be in dialogue with forces that cause unrest in their nation but this is barely half baked communication. It is amusing how they claim to be negotiating with the Taliban to counter terrorism but cannot approach their own people in Balochistan and sort matters to end this civil strife. As long as the government stays silent on Balochistan, the longest civil war in Pakistan’s history shall continue to be the reason for people’s prolonged pain and suffering. It won’t be long before the horrors of Balochistan will put the people of Pakistan and the world to shame for not taking action when they should have.