Pakistan’s Colonial State Of Mind Keeps Baloch In Chains, Michael Hughes, Foriegn Policy Strategist, Huffingtonpost
Balochistan was an independent nation for more than 1,000 years before Great Britain invaded and annexed it in 1839.
A U.S. House Foreign Affairs committee hearing held last week on human rights violations in Balochistan elicited predictably defensive reactions from Pakistan after the proceedings exposed the brutality of the sub-colonial racist ethos the country’s Punjabi elite inherited from their British overlords. According to Pakistan’s rulers and right-wing media, the state’s oppression of a subject race is an internal affair and, most importantly, none of Washington’s business.
As a result of “kill and dump” operations along with enforced disappearances at a clip that rivals Pinochet’s Chile, over 10,000 Baloch have gone missing who are either dead or holed up in Pakistani detention centers in locations unknown, in what historian Selig Harrison described as “slow-motion genocide.” Balochistan has also been economically deprived by Islamabad. Though most of Pakistan’s natural resources are located in Balochistan — including natural gas, oil and minerals — the Baloch see a mere fraction of it.
Balochistan was an independent nation for more than 1,000 years before Great Britain invaded and annexed it in 1839. In 1948 it was forcefully incorporated by the Punjabi military into the Pakistani state, which six months prior had been fabricated by imperial Britain. Haphazardly cobbling together disparate ethnic groups that had never coexisted, the British formed Pakistan as a strategic bulwark against communist expansion.
The Baloch have yearned for independence for over 60 years now but have been entirely ignored by the world community despite the fact Balochistan qualifies for secession by every international measure available. The Baloch at one point achieved autonomous status within the Pakistani state but it was short-lived. Attempts at domestic remedies have amounted to exercises in futility so the Baloch have been forced to lobby the international community and the U.S. for assistance in their quest for self-determination.
Pakistani leaders have been quick to brand the congressional hearing as nothing more than a U.S. imperialist charade which is quite ironic considering the Pakistanis involved with the founding of the country were nothing more than corrupt Western lackeys. London, enraged by India’s recalcitrance and lack of support during WWII, decided to reward Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his founding Muslim League for their loyalty by giving them Pakistan as a big “thank you”, according to Pakistani journalist Tariq Ali in his book The Duel, which served the dying empire’s goal of destabilizing a subcontinent it could no longer rule directly.
Ever since the country’s establishment the Punjabi elite, in viceregal tradition, have ruled Pakistan’s provinces as if they were colonies while undermining ethnic identity and nationalist sentiment by using Islam as a unifying element. Ali explains why this misguided strategy backfired: