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Balochistan Awami Party; Old wine in a new bottle

By Imdad Baloch

With over 70 years of indirect rule on Balochistan, the security establishment’s control runs deep in the governing bodies and has significantly influenced the socio-political, economic and cultural spheres of Balochistan. With the overnight creation of Balochistan Awami Party, the security establishment of Pakistan is asserting that it continues to be the key actor in shaping the socio-political dynamics of Balochistan.


The creation of Pakistan resulted in the merger of various nationalities with a distinct language, culture and history into one state. However, the pledge to make Pakistan a federal state with each nationality enjoying equal rights was never materialized. Instead, only Punjab (having majority stakes in the security establishment) dominated every sphere of the state. Although the constitution of Pakistan guarantees socio-economic rights of the federating units, Punjab dominated establishment in order to retain its cultural, economic and political supremacy opted for measures outside the constitutional and legal process of the state.


Systematic attempts were made to rob other ethnic groups including Baloch, Sindhi and Pashtun of their language and identity by barring them from receiving education in their mother tongue, and were not given their due share in the resources and power circles of the state. Political parties representing these nationalities were not allowed to function and any dissent against such illegal practices was crushed with brute force. Balochistan became a major victim of such policies. The first nationalist government of National Awami Party (NAP) in Balochistan that came into power as a result of free and fair elections in 1972 was thrown out of office through undemocratic means. The reasons that led to the overthrow of the Baloch government were their progressive policies of demolishing the feudal system from Balochistan, the establishmentof educational institutions and making Balochi and Pashtu parts of the school curriculum. NAP was dismantled and its leaders were put behind the bars on treason charges. The reaction of the Baloch masses and counter measures by the establishment to crush the resistance resulted in a violent confrontation. Many people were uprooted from their abodes; many killed, arrested and forced to flee to neighbouring Afghanistan.


The absence of Baloch leadership from the political arena was a blessing in disguise for the security establishment who as a policy strategy to contain the nationalist movement in Balochistan, began attacking the political and social fabric of the Baloch. In the process, it created a league of pliable and fungible political, social and tribal characters. Under the state supervision, a mushroom of fundamentalist religious groups also sprouted to fill the void created by the suppression of nationalist political activities.


Organized strategies are underway to counter the Baloch struggle for national salvation; gangs of extortionists and death squads have been unleashed to prey on the public and their true representatives. Clowns herded by men in boots are being portrayed as Messiah. It is the legacy of these characters lacking any principle and ideology, have now been bestowed with the name of a political party –Balochistan Awami Party. Reasonably, Political parties are not formed suddenly, they have to take root in the masses, and it takes years of intellectual and physical struggle for an ideology to mature into something; however the security establishment deserves its share of applause by creating Balochistan Awami Party aka BAP in less than a month time that convened its first council session in the lawn of a security institution in Quetta. The reality is that the BAP is present only in the controlled media as a political party and among the masses,it is being seen as a group of corrupt political, social and tribal figures and drug peddlers.


BAP phenomenon is like old wine in a new bottle. It appears that for the Civil and Military establishments of Pakistan to change their mindset towards Balochistan and to allow the true representatives of Balochistan to decide their destiny seems a far cry. The security establishment’s manoeuvring of electoral process and bodies can to some extent be counter if the Baloch masses put their unconditional support to the nationalist party in the upcoming general elections in Balochistan. The presence of Balochistan National Party representatives in the parliamentary institutions may not be the answer to all the problems faced by the Baloch but it will definitely be a better option than to allow those in the assemblies who have no stakes involved in the Baloch society or in the struggle for national salvation. It is high time for the Baloch masses to deeply analyze and reflect on the manipulative endeavoursof the establishment and possible outcome of these policies on the future of Balochistan.


(The author is a student of information technology in Quetta and writing with his pen name. The editorial board of Balochistan Affairs requests that writers and political activists should also send their original identity with their write-ups)

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