Habib Jalib’s killing & Balochitsan (July 17, 2010) Daily Times

They are killing the sane birds!

“Mujhe Jang-e-azaadi ka maza maloom hay,

Balochon per zulm ki intheha maloom hay,

Mujhe Zindgi bhar Pakistan mein jeenay ki dua na do,

Mujhe Pakistan mein saath (60) saal  jeenay ki saza maloom hay”

(Roughly translated: I know the taste of independence was/I know the heights of oppression on the Balochs/Don’t pray that I live in Pakistan for my whole life/I’ve suffered the sentence of living in Pakistan for 60 years)

This was the last lament written by Habib Jalib Baloch, who was assassinated outside his house last week. National Party Yousof Mustikhan says “although he was known as the moderate leader of Balochistan, his last poetry shows the disillusionment and frustration of the Baloch leaders.” He was an idealist Baloch Student Organisation activist when he was arrested soon after Mr. Bhutto banned National Awami Party. That was not the last time that he suffered incarceration. Inspired by the famous poet Habib Jalib, he added “Jalib” to his name. Though he belonged to an humble Prikani tribe that lives on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, he worked his way up as a Supreme Court Lawyer by continuing his studies along with his politics. This social mobility is not common in Balochistan.

His friends say he had the flickering hope in the democratic system. According to veteran Balochistan journalist Siddiq Baloch Quetta newspapers received SMS from three militant groups claiming that they have killed Habib Jalib. This list includes a small group Baloch Musallah Difa Tanzim (BMDT), Ansar-ul-Islam and Baloch Republic Army. But when the journalists rang back to confirm the number from which SMS messages were made nobody replied. Jalib’s party boss Akhtar Mengal says “like all political assassinations in this country, this will also remain a mystery.” Perhaps same would be true about the assassination of NP leader Moula Buksh Dasti, who was shot dead three days before Jalib. Most Baloch journalists and political workers blame that the establishment has created militant groups in Balochistan for eliminating the real leaders of the province.

The trouble with Balochistan is that the establishment has fragmented the society by fueling inter-tribal and intra-tribal feuds.  When it comes to armed struggle there are three major groups and many splinters, as it happens in all such movements. Only one group which is led by Mari fighters has allegiance of people from other tribes. The one led by Bramdagh Bugti has most fighters from his own tribe. Though are number of small splinter groups that have formed their own political parties, only Baloch National Party (Mengal) and National Party are the two major contenders among the nationalist parties of Balochistan.

Yousof Mustikhan believes that the independence movement would get stronger if moderate leaders like Jalib are eliminated and the management of the province is not transferred to the civilian government by the establishment. For over six decades Balochistan has been exploited which has now convinced many Baloch leaders that nothing short of independence would solve their problems. But political analysts hope that the 8th NFC Award should strengthen the hands of the Baloch leaders who want to do politics through democratic.  While the Federal government has tried to appease the people of Balochistan with a special package, the 8th NFC Award has also tried to reach out to the angry Baloch. Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed, who was Balochistan’s member in the NFC, told me that now Balochistan would not have to look towards the center for their due share in the form of grants and subventions. Historical injustice to Balochistan has been corrected to a certain extent as against population ratio of 5.11% in Pakistan, the share from the divisible pool from 2010-11 would be 9.09%. In addition to this Balochistan would get Rs4 billion as Gas Development Surcharge (GDS) from the next fiscal year. To compensate for the GDS loss of the province from 2002 to 2009 the government has agreed to give them another Rs10 billion. And additionally for the period (1954-1990) when no royalty on gas was given to the province the Federal Government has accepted to pay Balochistan Rs120 billion in 10 equal installments. Now together with the collection of provincial taxes Balochistan should have sufficient funds to work for the development of the province.

At the same time by agreeing to share the natural resources including gas & oil benefits equally, the 18th Amendment did accept the demand of the provinces half way. This was the major achievement of the nationalist leaders who were part of the parliamentary committee and believe in getting their rights through democratic struggle within the framework of Pakistan. This devolution of ownership of natural resources and its benefits should flow to the districts and tehsils where these natural resources are situated, if the government wants the poor people to be benefited. Otherwise much of the gains made by the provincial governments in the 8th NFC and 18th Amendment would be consumed by the provincial leaders.

Angry Baloch nationalists and their progressive supporters should now also build pressure on their provincial government for efficient management of the available resources. The corrupt officials of the provincial government should be held accountable for what resources they have instead of allowing them to hide behind the slogans of being exploited by others. By making this suggestion I am not undermining the importance of the struggle for more provincial autonomy and control over their natural resources. Both the internal and external struggle should go hand in hand.

All democrats support right of self-determination of nationalities, as Pakistan supports this for Indian Kashmiris. But my fear is if Balochistan’s independence dream of the militants groups is ever realised, it would slip into an internal war between various groups just as it did in Afghanistan and many other such tribal societies. Remember in Afghanistan when various groups were fighting the vacuum was filled in by Taliban, not by progressive nationalists. (ayazbabar@gmail.com)

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