Qambar Malik Baloch
The participation of public in general elections held in Balochistan since early 2000s, has to a great deal been influenced by the Baloch nationalists’ divide about taking part in the parliamentary institution of the state.
A section of the Baloch nationalists parting its way from the then Parliamentary nationalist political parties denounced the participation of Baloch in the electoral process of the state as fatal to the Baloch cause of national salvation, whereas; on the other hand the Baloch political parties that have historically been involved in the parliamentary politics consider the abandonment of this mean of struggle as tantamount to negating the very principles of a national struggle for right to self determination.
The basis of this divide are however debatable, and irrespective of the reasoning brought forth in this relation, a vigorous new debate has started about the importance of the upcoming general elections in Balochistan following the announcement of Waja Janmahmad Dashti’s name as one of the election candidates. Mr. Dashti is highly respected among the Baloch nationalist circles and Baloch populace in general as a great Baloch intellectual, linguist and a retired bureaucrat.
Waja Janmahmad Dashti’s decision to contest for National Assembly from Kech district’s constituency NA271 has appeared in the Baloch socio-political arena as no less than a surprise to his admirers and also for those in his opposition camps.
Traditionally, in Balochistan’s context, those holding high governmental positions usually after retirement resign themselves to Tableeghi Jamaaits or venture into private business sectors and divorce from the wants and concerns of the society. However, it is very rare to see top bureaucrats and Baloch writers going against the usual set trends and entering in nationalist politics.
People in Balochistan in general, except in some exceptional cases, are faced with a limited option of choosing their representatives from the pool of bad or less bad. Mr. Dashti’s name in majority of educated circles and strata of the society is being seen as a light at the end of the tunnel. Certainly given to the current political divide in Balochistan, this is not without opposition. As Mandela asserts in his ordeals that, “In politics there are many sensitive issues and people do not usually want an unpopular approach. Some people would like to give an impression of being militant and therefore not to face the problems, especially if they are the type of problems which are going to make you unpopular”. Nevertheless, it is the interests of people and society that guide the decisions and actions of a man of conscious, be it at the cost of inviting huge criticism.
Mr. Dashti’s participation in the upcoming general elections is being welcomed and appreciated by the larger section of the society who after a long time have found in him a worthy candidate to vote for but that too with the fear of their mandate being compromised. Many of Mr. Dashti’s admirers stretching beyond the constituency, he is contesting from, share an ambivalent view on his fair success in the face of compromised electoral process. Given to his trail of contributions to the Baloch cause, Baloch history and its literature and even receiving the bullets of hatred for exposing the atrocities committed by the security establishment against the Baloch, they humbly reserve the doubt that a person of Mr. Dashti’s stature would be the “most unfavourite” to be allowed to be elected by people’s vote by those in the power circles of the establishment.
Some against the idea of participation of Baloch in the state institutions are decrying Mr. Dashti’s participation in the general elections. However, his critics ignore or are unaware of the fact that most of Mr. Dashti’s contributions to the Baloch people, their language and society were rendered during his services as a top bureaucrat. It was during his tenure in civil bureaucracy that he wrote one of the finest books ever written on Baloch Culture and Nationalism. In Mr. Dashti’s chairmanship Balochi Academy (the largest of its kind in the world) witnessed its peak of success, and many of Baloch civil servants remember his unwavering support to civil servants and people of Balochistan.
Malik Siraj Akbar, a Baloch journalist based in the US described Mr. Dashti’s supervised Daily Asaap as “a remarkable ground for the nourishment of young Baloch writers and columnists, and during the harshest times faced the Baloch Daily Asaap was at the forefront of highlighting the human rights issues in Balochistan”. It is worth noting that Mr. Dashti contributed in the development of Baloch society and unequivocally served the Baloch in his individual capacity, and now following his decision to contest in the elections, he is being seen as one of the most competent and qualified contestants in the elections of Balochistan.
Nevertheless, positive results cannot be achieved without a positive and progressive thought. There are many reasons to elect a person whose skills and work is exceptionally fruitful and to be preferred to those who are quite out of touch with the progressive and secular thoughts of today. To choose a man whose needs and desires are not confined to his own life but with that of his people, where the failures of the society to which he belongs are his failures, and its successes are his successes. Waja Janmahmad Dashti’s life in itself is a story of a true Baloch inspired by the realities, sufferings and experiences of its society that has a trail of accomplishments to speak on his behalf.
Mr. Dashti’s participation in the upcoming general elections has put to test the consciousness of Makuran that enjoys the reputation of being called the intellectual capital of Balochistan in deciding who they will elect as their representative to further the cause of Baloch socio-political, cultural and economic rights.
The writer is a UK based Baloch socio-political activist who hails from Panjgur, Balochistan. He is the ex-chairperson of Baloch Students Action Committee, BUITEMS and Baloch Students and Youth Association UK.