Can Baloch form united opposition against colonization of Balochistan?

| Updated: 27 March, 2024 12:20 pm IST

On 23rd March Pakistan celebrated Yaum-e-Pakistan or Lahore Resolution, 1940 which called for the creation of a sovereign independent state from Muslim majority provinces of the United India but while calling for the independence or rights of a section of Muslims, it forcibly annexed and colonized Balochistan which never wanted to be part of Pakistan.

(L-R: Dr. Naseem Baloch, Chairman BNM, Hyrbyair Marri, President FBM and Brahumdagh Bugti President, BRP)Less than 1 year after its creation, on 27th March 1948, Pakistan brought in its armed forces and at gunpoint made the Khan of Kalat Mir Ahmad Yar Khan sign the Instrument of Accession. Unlike other princely states, on 4 Aug 1947, it was decided between the British, Pakistan and Kalat officials that Kalat state would be independent and would enjoy the same status as held in 1838 (before becoming a vassal state of Britain). Further, a Standstill Agreement was reached between the State of Kalat and Pakistan on 11th August 1947. However, neither the British nor Pakistan wanted a sovereign Balochistan as it was against their interests.

Ironically, Pakistan which based on demography and identity called for a separate nation took no time to kill the democracy of an independent country. Kalat State National Party (KNSP) won the parliamentary elections in 1947 and won 39 out of 52 seats in Balochistan. KNSP became the first political party to represent the voice of the common Baloch. Balochistan had a bicameral legislative body; consisting of Dar-ul-Umara (similar to Rajya Sabha in India) and Dar-ul-Awam (similar to Lok Sabha in India) both unanimously opposed any such merger. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjoas an elected leader in the Dar-ul-Awam of Balochistan, clearly stated: “We have a distinct civilisation… We are Muslims but it is not necessary that by being Muslims we should lose our freedom and merge with others. If the mere fact that we are Muslims requires us to join Pakistan, then Afghanistan and Iran should also amalgamate with Pakistan. We are ready to have friendship with that country based on sovereign equality but by no means [are we] ready to merge with Pakistan…”

I see a lot of similarities between the Indian freedom struggle and what is happening in Balochistan nowadays. Similar to India, where we had Garam Dal and Naram Dal, several Baloch nationalist groups share these characteristics. 3 prominent Baloch groups are working towards the freedom of Balochistan – the Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) and the Baloch National Movement (BNM). The leadership of FBM and BRP are forced to operate out of Europe due to fear of persecution and ongoing military operations against them. BNM is also facing the brunt of the Pakistani Establishment; some leaders operate out of Europe while the rest are underground across Balochistan.

While these groups strive for their common cause their ideology and strategic thought process differs considerably thereby making it difficult to come together to a common platform.

After the collapse of Afghanistan to the Taliban, FBM became active in bringing Baloch organizations together to safeguard the Baloch refugees (who fled Pakistan) in Afghanistan.

It is not the first time that these groups are coming, in 2007-08, the Baloch Nationalist Front (BNF) was created with a similar objective. It was an umbrella group that had BNM, BRP, BSO-Azad (Baloch Students Organization – Azad), etc. as its member organizations. However, BNF turned out to be a failure as some member organizations had relations with Pakistani parliamentary political groups and others had disagreements on the management of the alliance.

During 2023, BNM came out with a common point agenda for Baloch groups to come together for nationalist cause.

According to FBM sources, after multiple rounds of discussions, there is a breakthrough between BNM and FBM on certain points-

1. Fight for Independence and support freedom struggle;
2. Both Parties recognize days of national importance in Baloch history and commemorate them together;
3. Not to participate in Pakistani parliamentary politics;
4. Separation in political activities and events. Not to interfere in each other’s affairs. Political ideologies will remain intact.

Certain points have delayed the negotiation process –

1. Not to take support or cooperate from those organizations who have political relations with Pakistani parliamentary political parties in occupied Balochistan;
2. Parties should be independent and should have the capability of making their own decisions without any inference from any 3rd party organisation, nation-state or any Baloch armed group;
3. Take support from countries directly involved in the oppression of Baloch nation in any part of divided Balochistan.

The last two points are the biggest contentions between FBM and BNM, as other than Pakistan FBM considers Iran also as an opposition to its goal of achieving complete independence as they consider the Sistan-Balochistan and other Baloch historical territories in the provinces of Hormozgan, Kerman, and South Khorasan in Iran as the occupied western areas of Balochistan while BNM only wishes to concentrate on Pakistan and not to divert its attention.

BRP has remained silent and has not come out with any suggestion so far. It is important to highlight that Brahamdagh Bugti has been one of the ferocious voices for Balochistan’s independence but has been legally entangled by Pakistan on charges of terrorism. On BRP, BNM has stated that “our collaboration extends to participation in events and mutual support on social media. If our goals align, our paths will converge eventually. We must maintain openness and understanding in our interactions”.

Asking about the overall response to their common-point agenda BNM replied that, “our draft proposal has garnered positive feedback; we emphasize the need for comprehensive unity before forging political alliances. Hesitation to establish connections before alliances could hinder progress. Hence, political workers must prioritize fostering harmony among themselves”.

All the developments at the Baloch nationalist front seem to have garnered positive results with eerie contentious issues which I hope they will deal with and figure out a solution. Unity in diversity is critical in today’s times and diversity of views will lead to a democratic future which the Baloch nation aspires to be. But it is high time Baloch groups came together on a platform and showed their united stance against colonization and their undying spirit to the world and how they have been fighting for a just and true cause for the last 76 years.

Mark Kinra is a corporate lawyer and geopolitical analyst with expertise in South Asia, particularly Pakistan and Balochistan and holds a degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University; collaborating with think tanks and academicians in India and Israel.

Also Read Story

Pilibhit Voting: Don’t Know who’s Jitin Prasad, We Know Only Modi

Mehbooba, Altaf, Manhas file nominations for Anantnag-Rajouri LS seat 

ES attaches properties of Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty

I went against family wishes to join BJP in 1996: Tamilisai Soundrajan