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Opinion: Colonial South Asia

By Zulfiqar Shah- After the dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, and defeat in war with India, Pakistan Army launched a military operation in Balochistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto neither gave orders for Balochistan operation, nor did he tender suggestion for the military action in East Pakistan (now Bangaldesh). It is, thus propagated by the military and security regime of Pakistan that it was Bhutto who wanted military action in East Pakistan. The Track II and people-to-people diplomacy carried with Bangladesh during and after the period of President General Pervez Musharaf and President Asif Ali Zardari, the foreign office establishment of Pakistan, as well as their chorines vociferously mentioned Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as a sole culprit behind 1971 war on East Pakistan. This was being done in bid to attain better ties with Awami League, and closer ties with Bangladesh National Party. They did not mention the role of Jamait-e-Islami Pakistan.

President Asif Ali Zardari tendered apology to Balochistan as head of the state as well as Supreme Commander of Pakistan Army. Meanwhile, President General Pervez Musharaf extended his feelings and expressions of regret to Bangladesh over 1971 war despite tendering a formal apology that was demanded by Shiekh Hasina, Bangladeshi Prime Minister.

Pakistani officials were of the opinion by the 2016 that India is interfering in Balochistan. Previously President General Zia ul Haq regime in 1980s was saying that India is supporting Sindh. It has been a cornerstone of Pakistan’s internal policy towards dissenters in Sindh and Balochistan that “external interference” be quoted as reason behind the dissent. If seen through established international practices, an interference and intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country particularly in term of civil wars and secessionism can only be validated if a) a country engages militarily in a territory; b) citizens of a country formally become part of violent conflict as soldiers; and c) weapons, specifically heavy and strategic weaponry is facilitated to the dissenters. In the context of India, neither Indian armed forces nor citizenry for war making has entered Sindh and Balochistan against the state of Pakistan for the freedom of Sindh and Balochistan. No weapons by India have been dispatched to Sindh and Balochistan.

If seen with references to international practices and precedence, European Union directly supplied heavy weaponry including strategic arsenal to Libyan rebels, almost similar happened in Syria. Even the peaceful movements like Tahreer Squire in Egypt attained equal response from across the globe, particularly by the West, which was non-violent disposition of the social action based on political will. If viewed in the perspective of the foreign policy expressions, USA and UK concerns for human rights, civil war, and Pakistan policies towards core issues concerning people of Sindh and Balochistan have been indicative of the state apparatus as well as constitutional crises in Pakistan. The statement of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Balochistan, and his December 28, 2007 statement on Sindh, one day after the murder of Benzair Bhutto, has been an expression of India on its historical legitimacy and justification. Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have remained one state although there has been no commonwealth of Indian subcontinent. During 1980s, Indra Gandhi discussed and tabled a resolution in the Lok Sabha, a lower house of Indian parliament, on Sindh against the brutalities on Sindhi. The house unanimously passed it. India, which previously refused to talk on Balochistan in a United Nations session, is now engaging with UN on Balochistan.

Sindh and Balochistan have transformed themselves into a modern nationhood, because of their historical nation and countryhood, and partly because Pakistan has failed to transform and cement into one nation. It is a fact that Britain invaded India, Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Sri Lanka and Myanmar as independent and sovereign countries. Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa, and some other Pashtun parts were taken from Afghanistan after failure in invasion of Afghanistan, meanwhile Bahawalpur State and Siraiki semi tribal areas adjoining to Bahawalpur State came under Britain after an agreement between Bahawalpur and Britain. Britain military could not invade Afghanistan and Nepal. Nepal is the only South Asian country that never has been invaded in its whole history.

During earlier period of British invasion Tamil that were indigenous to India bordering Sri Lanka received further migration of Tamil from India for labouring in tea farms. Colonial Britain freed India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka with the sovereignty of independent country in which these were invaded. Balochistan was also freed by annexing Pashtun area of Afghanistan five months before the partition of British India. Punjab chose its division / partition through legislature. Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa was annexed with Pakistan against the will of its elected government. Afghanistan was not taken into discussion regarding this. Bahwalpur State, against the agreement between King of Bahawalpur and the Britain, in which Bahawalpur was guaranteed security from invasion by Punjab, was annexed with Punjab along with other Siraiki areas.

Sindh was invaded by Britain through violation of various Treaties, which were reached upon after negotiations, and were accorded by emissaries of Her Excellency Queen of Britain that ensured British security to Sindh from invasion of Punjab. Against the sprit of these treaties, Sindh on August 14, 1947 was annexed with newly created Pakistan. Besides, the Will of Sindhi who voted against AIML in 1946 was also violated. Punjab, no doubt, in 1930s sent a proposal to the Governor General of India that Sindh should be annexed with Punjab because it is Muslim majority adjoining territory, which was opposed by G. M. Syed, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, Jamshed Nasarwanji Mehta, Haji Abdullah Haroon, and by other Sindhi politicians. Britain refused Punjab its request for annexing Sindh with Punjab.

Sindh was invaded by Britain during 1843-1857. Not only the agreements that were made by Britain before 1843 with Sindh were violated, also Government of Sindh, Primer of Sindh, and the Cabinet of Sindh were not taken into consultation for its annexation into a newly proposed country – Pakistan. Balochistan, however, was formally taken into control by Pakistan in 1948. Mir Ghouse Bux Bijanzo was the Parliamentarian in the bicameral parliament of Balochistan, who led the majority opposition against Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s proposal for annexation of Balochistan with Pakistan. A vote was sought from Quetta Municipality, a local government body of Quetta city, in fvaour of Pakistan.

The historical affinity between Baloch and Pashtun of Balochistan has many examples. Marriage of a Khan (King) of Kalat was from the family of a Prince in Kandahar, Afghanistan, who gifted Quetta to her daughter as Shaal (a cultural gift). Government of Pakistan said that borders security, international affairs, and currency would be Pakistan Governments responsibility, rest the Governance of Balochistan would be of locals. Judiciary in Balochistan later on was submerged with traditional tribal judicial mechanism; Nawabs (Princes) and Sardars (Dukes) were recognized right of policing and levying tax through Levies; and Baloch were allowed to hold weaponry without licenses. Baloch fought many wars began around in decade of its annexation with Pakistan. A truce was reached through traditional use of Holy Koran with Shaheed Nawab Nauroz Khan, and later on the truce was violated.  The ongoing war in Balochistan is underway since last seventeen years.

Government of Sindh and Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa were dismissed in 1948 and 1947 respectively because both of the governments, primarily opposed the annexation with Pakistan, and after creation of Pakistan, wanted an entirely different kind of federalism. Leadership of Sindh and Balochistan during last seven decades was killed, mostly by the Pakistan armed forces. Sindh, through Sindh Assembly and representation in federal parliament as well as through popular protest of public; and Balochistan through massive protests and warfare have been protesting regarding people’s security, sovereignty, self rule and autonomy besides demanding for secession.

Balochistan during the military rule of President Genral Pervez Musharf was demanding sovereign autonomy of Balochistan, and the same momentum, however peaceful, has been there in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa which also include the demand for the freedom of Sindh. Siraiki have been demanding a separate Siraiki province through parliament and streets. Balochistan and Sindh freedom movements, in association with war in Balochistan, have been oldest in the history of Pakistan if compared with liberation movement of Bangladesh.

There has been freedom movement in Gilgit and Baltistan areas in Pakistan for the creation of Blaveristan.  Gilgit and Baltistan historically are parts of Kashmir and were invaded by Pakistan in 1947-48 war on Kashmir. Meanwhile, terrorists belonging to Salafi sects went inroads in the area to resist Khuwaja Shi’a Ismaili majority of Gilgit-Baltistan. The spiritual leader of Khuaja Shia Ismaili, His Highness Prince Agha Khan, is also a leader of Gilgit-Baltistan. He is a Sindhi, born on the banks of River Indus in Jhirik town of district Thatta. Once, during His Highness visit of Karachi he said, “I am soul of Sindh.” This very same statement was given by veteran Sindhi Leader Rasool Bux Palijo and Pir Pagaro Syed Ali Mardan Shah. Sindh Government felt honored by His Highness Prince Agha Karim Khan’s visit of Chief Minister House Sindh during which Sindh Government requested Abida Parveed to perform Ganaya in the honour of His Highness.

Shah is Sindhi refugee journalist, activist and analyst currently staying in India: www.zulfiqarshah.com

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