• Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Mohammad Hanif On The Media And Baloch Long March: Interviewer: Asif Magsi

so they are peaceful people, they are civilized people, they are dignified people and if Punjab and Islamabad does not respond to this kind of civility, does not respond to this kind of dignity

Mohammad Hanif on the Media and Baloch Long March:

Interviewer: Asif Magsi

Mohammed Hanif’s novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes was longlisted for the Booker prize, shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, Commonwealth literary prize and won Shakti Bhatt first book awards. His new novel Our Lady of Alice Bhatti is published by Jonathan Cape. He works as a special correspondent for BBC Urdu and is based in Karachi.

Asif Magsi: You have written extensively about the issue of missing persons in Balochistan, what made you write on this issue?

Hanif

: I haven’t written much, I think in total I have written about 08 to 10 pieces, 08 in English and 06 or 07 in Urdu. So, I don’t think it’s a lot. The reason that I decided to write about the Baloch missing persons was that nobody was writing about it in the mainstream media. You might have noticed that this issue has been around for quite a few years, so although sometimes newspapers report statistics, which are issued by human rights organizations… but nobody ever tries to go and talk to the families of missing people, we refuse to give them a human face, we refuse to acknowledge the fact that these kidnappings are being carried out by state agencies. There are lots of missing people in Pukhtoonkhua and Punjab as well but since lot of these cases are happening in Balochistan, Balochistan is considered a remote part of Pakistan not just geographically but in our imagination as well. So, there seems to be this consensus in the media or this unwritten rule that this story should not be reported for various reasons, and I think that’s why I decided this to be very valid story and it should be reported.

Magsi: What are your views on the increasing Talibanization in Balochistan?

Hanif

: Well I am not an expert on Balochistan so I can’t give you a detailed answer but based on the couple of times I have visited I can say that I have seen the signs of this. I have seen more and more Madrasas in Pashtoon areas and I have also heard stories about some Baloch militants who are allied to sectarian organizations and obviously in the past couple of years we have seen an increase in sectarian violence in Balochistan…especially, in Quetta from which we can conclude that obviously the attacker is not coming from outside Balochistan, and that there are sectarian militants in Balochistan and they have sympathizers there as well so, all I can say is yes!

I have visited only a couple of times but I have noticed these trends and I have talked to people from Balochistan, various areas of Balochistan and they keep reporting about this fact, but having said that this is something happening in Sindh, in the interior Sindh and for a very long time in Punjab so I think it’s a national kind of progression.

Magsi: How do you see the historic long march headed by Mama Qadeer Baloch and Farzana Majeed , will it be of any worth, will it reach Islamabad Press Club and United Nations (U.N.) office in Islamabad?

Hanif

: Well they are still on their way so we have to see what the reaction is when they enter Punjab. Here when they entered Karachi, I was quite pleasantly surprised how thousands of people had joined them, when they entered suburbs of Karachi, lots and lots of people especially women and young men joined them. So I was very pleasantly surprised, I haven’t seen such a huge Baloch rally in years. Reports also suggest that people are joining them as they travel through Sindh. It has been quiet positive they have been welcomed in every town, every city by Sindhi nationalists, mostly.

I don’t know what will happen when they enter Punjab, because the politics in Punjab is completely different.


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