Pigs yes, Punjabis no, says Baluch legend
[Translated from Urdu; analysis added by the author]
A legendary Baluch national leader, whose son gave his life for the independence of Baluchistan, has ruled out any possibility of Baluch co-existence with the pro-Jihad Punjab province within the confines of a united Pakistan.
Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, 90, who has advocated the independence of Baluchistan for more than three and half decades now, said regardless of the high price the Baluch people will have to pay they have no option but to free themselves from Pakistan's neocolonial yoke as there was little room for reconciliation.
“Pakistan has usurped our independence,” Marri said in an interview. “Prior to and even after the British creation of Pakistan, Baluchistan had an independent status,” he said.
One of Marri's sons and former member of the Baluchistan assembly Bala'ach Marri, 41, was known as the Baluch Che Guevra and was killed in action trying to push back Pakistan army out of his native Baluchistan.
Earlier, the martyred man made history when in stead of pledging allegiance to Pakistan, he openly pledged allegiance to Baluchistan after his victory in the 2002 elections on a provincial seat.
Marri said there were no common denominators between the Baluch and Pakistan as the two were totally alien to one another. “Our language culture, history and geography everything is different from Pakistan.”
There are countless differences both in political, cultural and personal lives between Baluch and Pakistan's dominant ethnic Punjabis. While the Punjabi Muslims are extremely hateful of other Punjabis who may be Christians, Hindus, Sikhs or from a minority sect called Qadianis -- on August 1 Punjabi Muslims attacked Christian homes and burned alive women and children --, the Baluch are mostly secular in their world outlook. Punjabis may comfortably fart in public, while Baluch consider this a taboo; Punjabis have a system of dowry, while Baluch have bride money; many Punjabis hate India, while most Baluch love Indian secularism, to list just a few.
For many Baluch, they are as different from the Punjabis as are Frenchmen different from the Britons or Germans.
Marri rejected Islamabad's propaganda and said had India been helping the Baluch, Pakistani helicopters and jets would not have dared to fly over Baluchistan.
He said Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari has no standing in Pakistan politics and is merely a puppet in the hands of the Pakistan army and establishment.
To a question about co-existence with people from the military stronghold of Punjab within the existing geographical framework of Pakistan, he said there was no question of any reconciliation with the Punjab as there was simply no way out for the Baluch but to opt for an independent statehood.
Asked about Zardari's reconciliation process in Baluchistan, the veteran leader burst out in a laughter and in sarcasm asked, “What is the status of Mr. Zardari?”
When Marri was reminded some nationalists in Baluchistan had welcomed Zardari's overtures for peace in the restive province, Marri said nationalists cadres exist in just two parties, the Baluchistan National Movement and the Baluch National Front.
Marri said two other parties the National Party and BNP [Baluchistan National Party] are not considered to be nationalists in the eyes of the Baluch masses.
One of the main leaders of the National Party is Mir Hasil Bizenjo, whose father Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo had played a big role in opposing Baluchistan's forced annexation to Pakistan in March 1948. He was arrested and badly tortured by Pakistani soldiers. Baluch nationalists says Hasil Bizenjo has strayed away from this late dad's path by befriending two former chiefs of the infamous Inter Services Intelligence, Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmed and General Hamid Gul. Hasil Bizenjo also nurtures the hope former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will return to power and help him and his province prosper.
Likewise, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the BNP has come under increasing criticism of Baluch nationalists for shying away from the demand of Baluchistan's independence and failing to demand the pullout of Pakistani troops from the restive Baluchistan province, which the Baluch call occupied territories.
Others insist Mengal's eldest brother Mir Asadullah Mengal was killed by the Pakistani intelligence in 1975 and as he is from the militant Brauhvi clan can never forgive the Punjabis for this crime, even though the military authorities disbursed blood money after the 1973-77 war of liberation ended in Baluchistan under the then Islamist dictator, General Ziaul Haq.
When asked about development projects in Baluchistan, Marri said the Baluch were demanding independence “while you are taking about salary” and said in his opinion the sham of development means the Punjabis want to nibble way whatever little meat is left on the Baluch body.
Marri said Prince Abdul Karim, brother of the Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmedyar Khan –the Baluch ruler at the time of the British departure from the Indian subcontinent in 1947--, was among those who believed in an independent Baluchistan. After Pakistan forced the Khan of Kalat to sign an instrument of accession with Pakistan at the point of gun, Prince Abdul Karim revolted against the Pakistani occupation, organized a 1000-strong army and migrated to Afghanistan to fight for Baluchistan's independence. He was forced to return after lack of support from Kabul and spent nearly two decades behind bars in Pakistan. Thoroughly dejected, he became a forlorn shepherd in Baluchistan.
The Khan of Kalat's grandson, the De Jure Ruler of Baluchistan Suleman Daud is now in exile in the United Kingdom and increasingly winning the confidence of Baluch national heroes Hyrbyair Marri – Marri's fourth son, who is in exile in the U.K. and is one of the main leaders of the Baluch independence movement – and Sardar Brahamdagh Bugti, political successor of former governor and chief minister of Baluchistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti, 79. Bugti was killed extra judicially by the Pakistan army on August 26, 2006 and since then the situation in Baluchistan has plumetted from bad to worse.
At the time of Bugti's slaying, Pakistan army was headed by General Pervez Musharraf, whose mother Zarin was a famous dancer from Lucknow – the Indian city known for its brothels since the Mogul days.
Daud at a joint meeting with Hyrbyair Marri on August 11 in London announced the formation of a supreme council to fight for the liberation of Baluchistan from the neo-colonial yoke of Pakistan and Iran. “I am consultation in with the Khan of Kalat to make the council effective, locally and globally, so that this announcement does not become a mere press stunt,” Hyrbyair Marri told this scribe on phone from London.
Pakistan shuddered over the announcement. “There was kind of an earthquake in the Pakistani media,” senior Baluch journalist and former president of the Baluchistan Union of Journalist, Shahzada Zulfikar – a blood relative of the Khan – said on phone from Quetta.
Nawab Marri rejected th allegation that he does not want development of the Baluch and said had that been the case he would have joined the Pakistan Muslim League. “Maybe I would also have become the chief minister,” he quipped.
Marri added in Pakistan there was no room for popular issues that has a bearing on peoples lives. He said political opportunism is rife in Pakistan “with some calling themselves khan sahibs, and other chaudhris, pirs and waderas.” These fancy titles are used by feudal elements within Pakistan's body politics who act as touts of the country's omnipotent military. The Punjabi soldiers have promoted the military as an “institution” that has ruled over the country for more than half its “independent” existence since the British left India divided in 1947.
To a question about democracy in Pakistan, Marri said a Punjabi-dominated democracy has little to offer to Baluchistan.
“There was only one way for reconciliation and that is for the Punjabis and mohajirs to leave our homeland Baluchistan and accept Baluch sovereignty,” Marri said.
Marri recalled the bloody war of liberation in Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan – Punjabi troops and its Al Qaeda-style allied militant groups, Al-Shams and Al-Badar, killed nearly three million Bengalis and raped more than 200,000 of their women then – and said “In spite of the majority enjoyed by Bengalis [in Pakistan in 1971] whatever happened in Bengal do you call that democracy?”
Bangladesh independence was the first time in world history when a nationality that commanded the majority seceded from the union. Dhaka to this day is demanding a public apology from the Pakistani military over genocide and war crimes of 1971.
Marri denied the Pakistani allegation of an Indian hand in the Baluch national uprising, insisting that the Baluch movement was entirely indigenous as kalashnikov and other small weapons are readily available in the arms bazaar for which New Delhi's help is not required.
Marris said united front of Baluch forces could be formed to usher in the dawn of independence in Baluchistan if formation of a single party remained an elusive goal. Delving into past revolutions, he said seldom has any single party brought about a change in society on its own.
He said the Baluch struggle for liberation was far more advanced today than was the case in the 1970s adding unity is being formed in the field itself. Without mentioning the Khan of Kalat, Marri said those whose forbears were politically inactive are today partaking in the struggle and ight as well tomorrow form the vanguard of the liberation movement.
To a question about the present provincial government in Baluchistan, led by two tribal heavyweights Nawab Aslam Raisani and Nawab Zulfikar Magsi [the Baluch say Raisani and Magsi have become maidservants of Pakistani army officials, though both had demanded Baluchistan should go for independence after the August 26, 2006 killing of Nawab Bugti], Marri sarcastically said the provincial government was “sincere” in doing its job of trying to defeat the Baluch liberation movement and “sincere” in either trying to entice the Baluch or use Pakistani forces to crush their struggle.
To another question about his change of stance from his adherence to Marxist ideology, Marri said he has not changed but rather has become more matured. He made it clear that he does not want to annoy the United States in any manner.
In a show of humility, the Marri chieftain denied that the Marris had always played a lead role in the Baluch national movement, adding the Marris contributed whatever they could. He noted that the Marris were not involved in the uprising led by Nawab Nauroz Khan.
Nauroz Khan had confronted the Pakistan army after the arrest for the second time of the Baluch ruler, the Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmedyar Khan in October 1958. Pakistan army pledged on the Quran to make peace with Nauroz Khan, but then broke its promise when he returned from the mountains. His seven sons were hanged in jail and he perished in prison many years later at age 90.
Marri fondly remembered his son Bala'ach Marri, who had thrown a gauntlet at the Pakistan army, and said a sea change had come in the world outlook of his slain son after he returned from London. He said Bala'ach Marri opted for a way of life “where there is death at every step.”
About his political blunders, he said the worst blunder of his life was getting elected to the Pakistani parliament in the 1970 elections. Marri had refused to sign on the Pakistani constitution and said he did not sign the document as it offered no solution to the burning question of Baluchistan.
To a question, Marri frankly refused to mention his weaknesses saying if he talked about them the Pakistani establishment would also listen and love to embed its dagger there.
On a query about his political successor, Marri modestly said he was a small chieftain [Marris and Bugtis are two of the largest tribes in Baluchistan, and both are facing a military crackdown and conspiracies of the Pakistani intelligence agencies to erect fifth column in them to weaken the Baluch resistance] and said his successors are those who espouse the Baluch cause.
Since the killing of Balaa'ch Marri on November 20, 2007, two of Marri's other sons Hyrbyair Marri and Mehran Baluch have been actively involved in advocating the Baluch cause at international forums.
Marri's eldest son, Nawabzada Jangyz Marri, is considered a black sheep in the family because of his compromise with the Pakistani authorities. Marri has repeatedly said he is willing to co-exist with pigs but not with Punjabis.
Texas-sized Baluchistan was declared independent separately from India and Pakistan on August 11, 1947 but its independence was short lived as Pakistan forcibly annexed Baluchistan on March 27, 1948. Baluchistan stands divided into three parts: the area under Pakistani army occupation is slightly bigger than New Mexico. The area under Iranian mullahs is the size of Nevada, and that under Afghan control is the size of West Virginia.