• Tuesday 20th October 2020

A Troubled Land: It Is Also About Time That Parlia­ment Rises To The Challe­nge. It Is A Race Agains­t Time But It Can Be Won. By Tanvir Ahmad Khan

the accession of Balochistans ‘princely’ states to Pakistan in 1947-48 and, far more seriously, by the persistent neo-colonial approach to administering a huge province with sparse population

Predictably, the US Congressional hearing on Balochistan has triggered off much comment in Pakistan, some to give vent to a sense of outrage at the American interference and some to express vague sanctimonious sentiments about the suffering of the Baloch people. There has also been a welcome evidence of Pakistani analysts addressing the roots of Baloch alienation, especially the rage of the Balochi youth. I cannot think of a better way of joining the discussion than by making the basic point that has generally lacked emphasis in our commentaries, namely that without Balochistan, there would be no Pakistan. In the case of Bangladesh, we allowed a lobby of narrow vested interests to rationalise its traumatic severance from Jinnah’s Pakistan by arguing that, in the final analysis, it was beneficial to have jettisoned its troublesome eastern wing. In Balochistan’s case, no such misconceived and self-serving pragmatism would be conceivable.

Consider the land. A sprawling region of Pakistan spread over 347,190 sq kms abuts Afghanistan and Iran and provides Pakistan with a long coastline that links the country with the Persian Gulf and pioneers its maritime stretch into South Asia. Home to oil, gas and minerals such as copper, coal, marble, chromite, barite, limestone, shale, it is the principal guarantee of Pakistan’s future prosperity. But more importantly, consider its people in their historical context. Viewed through the prism of the writings of Herder and Fichte, as was done by a contributor to this newspaper only the other day [“The Balochistan conundrum”], Amber Darr, Feb 15], the inhabitants of all provinces of Pakistan qualify to be ‘nations’ or, if one is squeamish, ‘nationalities’ with hallowed traditions of distinctive culture and well-developed languages. Pakistan does not have pure ethnic or linguistic provinces, each one of them being a mosaic of great richness. All its peoples came together in a federation in 1947 confident that their political, economic and cultural rights would face no threat in a state created as a mighty hedge against the hegemony of one religious group that would dominate India under majoritarian principles.

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