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The Struggle for Independence and the Shortcomings of the Baloch Leadership

Khalid Hayat Jamaldini

by Khalid Hayat Jamaldini

Instead of focusing attention on the Frontier Corp or the government of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies for the ongoing mass killings in Balochistan, the ostracized, suppressed and deprived Baloch need to start asking hard questions of their leaders—chieftains and elites alike—about their actions or non-actions that allow this carnage to continue.

For myriad reasons, Baloch leaders and elites living abroad and in Balochistan have thus far failed to forge any unity among themselves. Indeed, some are compromised by the support they receive, overtly or covertly, from the very Pakistani political system that has systematically tortured and suppressed the voice of righteous Balochs.

The recent Janus-faced policies of some Baloch chieftains and leaders are even more double-crossing in nature than those of previous years. In August 26, 2006, when Nawab Akbar Bugti, then in his 80s, was killed in the mountains of Balochistan by the Pakistani army, Baloch elites from all corners of Balochistan emphasised unity and advocated seeking justice from within this unity. To achieve their goals, on September 21, 2006, they held a grand assembly, in which eighty five tribal chiefs participated and after which Baloch MPs and Senators resigned jointly from parliament, a gesture which reflected, ordinary Baloch thought, their ideological sincerity and commitment. Such a unique action by Baloch leaders inspired the Baloch people, namely the educated ones, who believed that the determination of their elites and elders would gradually break the chains of slavery, which in turn would lead them to achieve the overall goal: liberty and self-determination for Balochistan.

This dream started to fade, however, when members of the same Jirga participated in the 2008 general elections of Pakistan. During 2008-2013, under the rule of former Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani, over three hundred Balochs belonging to diverse societal and political backgrounds were kidnapped, brutally killed and dumped in different parts of Balochistan. Instead of healing the wounds of Balochs, Balochistan started to bleed more heavily at the hands of its own tribal leaders. According to Baloch culture and traditions, tribal leaders are nominated to defend the rights of their people. Unfortunately, recent years have witnessed the undermining of these rights. Instead the massacre and kidnapping of the Baloch has developed into an ongoing practice.

With elections now on the horizon, some Baloch elites are once again prepared to undermine the aspirations and dreams of common Balochs. Some members of the Jirga who boycotted the elections of 2008, i.e., Sardar Akthar Mengal, Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Talal Bugti, have now decided to contest the coming general election scheduled for May 11, 2013. In addition, they have made political alliances and promises of friendship with the key ruling political party of Pakistan (Pakistan Muslim League headed by Main Nawaz Sharif) to “resolve” the ongoing conflict of Balochistan during this election season. Such political amity between Baloch hegemons and core Pakistani political party raises a fundamental question: Why is the election season always a season of friendship for these chieftains?

These Baloch leaders are unwilling to disclose one simple and highly important fact for ordinary Baloch people: what caused or forced these leaders to overlook the massacres and injustices of the past six decades? Why are these Baloch leaders willing to disregard the concerns, cries and demands of numerous Baloch families who have sacrificed the lives of their loved ones for the sake of sovereignty and self-determination, an independence that each Baloch deserves to enjoy?

The most prominent source of frustration for ordinary Baloch is that they are thwarted by their own representatives. They ask: Why don’t our leaders unite to raise their voices for a strong and committed revolution—changing the status quo from slavery to one of a free and independent and developing Balochistan? Why do so-called Baloch leaders still place their trust in the corrupt Pakistani system and exhibit no empathy for the pain of mothers, sisters, brothers, wives and daughters and fathers who have either lost their loved ones or whose loved ones are still missing? Even worse, these Baloch leaders who claim to seek the independence of Balochistan have thus far failed to show any solidarity with them. Without it, how can they hope to achieve such an important and common goal: to secure the identity, culture, language and resources and land of the Baloch Nation for the Baloch?

Do Baloch leaders not understand that their legitimacy rests on the acceptance and support of the Baloch masses? Why do they show no regard for the concerns of their people and instead engage in petty politics for their own welfare? Ultimately, they have proven incapable of performing their duties as tribal elders and as political representatives. The confusing games they play have complicated the political landscape and backed ordinary Balochs into a corner—making their decision-making unnecessarily complex.

The solution to the problem of failed leadership, however, is simple and straightforward: Too much hope has been placed on the ability of Baloch elites to lead ordinary Baloch out of the quagmire of physical and economic deprivation. If ordinary Baloch want to achieve their goals, they have no choice but to faithfully join hands with each other to confront corrupt leaders and work to generate visionary solutions of their own. Only then will they will be able to effectively fight for their freedom and independence. In short, the Baloch will realize their dreams only by uniting with other ordinary Baloch, not by engaging with, and acquiescing to, corrupt leaders and chieftains.

The writer belongs to Balochistan and writes on the issue of Balochistan for international and national websites and papers. He can be reached at