Baluchistan: State’s policy of coercion

Primarily, state’s role is of guardian, mother, and guarantor of rights to its citizens. The state is an association of men living together. We cannot conceive of state without  population of peoples.  Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of citizens, full member state, Subjects, and aliens. To keep all of them in state’s hegemony, policy of consent and coercion is used. Application of this policy, decides about loyalty and disloyalty of some or other with state.

Pakistan came into being as an Islamic republic of Pakistan, manufacturing consent of Muslims of subcontinent for creation of separate state. At that time, no use of force, but people of Indo-Pak were convinced, made-agree, and cordially invited to be part of freedom movement. As a result, Muslims of indo-pak joined together, irrespective of community, region, and race differences. It resulted into a creation of state of Pakistan with a combine force of people of Baluchistan, Sindh, Punjab, Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa, Bengal, and other princely states.

Post-independence state of Pakistan started to became a suspicious of people of Baluchistan, Sindh, and KPK. In this wake, policy of coercion and consent was widely used to gain the confidence and loyalty of people in state.

Prior to independence, Punjab had a history of military nursery. This region provided a military men to state, and considered more loyal than any other community in the region with state. Similarly, state developed this part of subcontinent and bestowed all rewards of land, titles, and monetary concession to the people of Punjab. Thus, after independence, Punjab constitutes a larger part of Pakistani State. They enjoyed state blessing, and favored for every post in state. It is also a fact, state has never face any resentment while enforcing its authority in Punjab. Thus, it widely used a policy of consent in Punjab.

On the other, Baluchistan  which officially became a province of Pakistan in 1970. Previously, ruled by Khan of Kalat, and other independent rulers. This region of Pakistan is ethnically diverse, consisting of Baloch’s, Pathans, Brahvi , and so on. There is no unity among all, but Baloch’s claim to be a sovereign part of it, and demands greater share in its resources. since, independence, scores of conflict have taken place between Baloch separatist and State armed force. But, this is resulting into a more chaos, polarization, and turmoil in province atmosphere than peace, prosperity, and development.

According to Antoni Gramsci, an Italian Philosopher “ using force and coercion erupts resentments, not consent of those against violence is used”. It is crystal  clear that force always develops resentment. So, in order to get consent of Baloch People, state need to use confidence building measures, not policy of coercion.

No doubt, there is a lot of political parties in Baluchistan who believe in political struggle rather than armed struggle. They took part in national as well as provincial elections on the basis of their issues and problems which they are facing at their home. Their manifestos echoes stories of coercion by state forces in Baluchistan. They ask vote on this promise that they will convince authorities to free Balcoh innocent people from torture cells of state. But all in vain. Forced disappearance is prevalent today. Even, mass graves are found where hundreds of people are dumped without any reason. Unfortunately, families of disappeared people are not informed, even after their deaths. This kind of policy against Baloch is instigating resentment, anger, and disdain for state as a reliable, and guarantor of their rights.

The case in point, the recent break up between incumbent government and Baluchistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M). In August 2018, BNP-M joined government led by Imran Khan on the basis of his six points. After two years, this coalition end in recent budget session of national assembly when BNP-M part Chief, Akhtar Mengal announced parting of ways. He said, government had done nothing since past two years to martialize on its promises which were made while formation of government.  His points include, recovery of missing persons, national action plan’s (NAP) implementation, six percent quota for Baluchistan in government departments, early repatriation of Afghan refugees, and construction of small dams in the province. In beginning a few people were freed, but practice of disappearance  still continued. Indeed, no development on construction of dams, ensuring 6 percent quota for Baluchistan, and other points were made. This caused break-up to alliance.

Parting of way from BNP-M, is not political blackmailing, but anger and outrage of not coming to the point of problem solution of the province. In fact, Subsequent governments failed to resolve the problems of depressed province. Only, promises were made time and again to receive their votes for making alliance, and consolidation of power. However, their issues remained untouched and unresolved, leaving people of the province to bore the burnt of forced disappearance, inequality in power distribution, death and dump, hunger and poverty, backwardness and bewilderment, aloofness and alienation, unemployment and poor infrastructure, over-military deployment and police patrolling, etc. 

State integrity and territorial consolidation require consent of its inhabitants. And that must not be manufactured by using force or coercion, but consent and willingness of people.

It’s a high time, state start to see the problems of Baluchistan, and its people on priority basis. Timely steps are required to take in the wake of development and prosperity of the region. For that purpose, their apprehension need to be listened and resolved as existing doubts and disdain end for state. Policy of accommodation and consent is used to garner the support of people of Baluchistan. On contrary, resentment and separatist feelings will increase and get strength with every passing day. No doubt, it might push people  of the province more away from Pakistan’s patriotism.

Mujtaba Qureshi
Mujtaba Qureshi
Former student of Quaid-i-Azam University. Having interested in national and international politics, history and economy.