How I feel about problem of the Province of Baluchistan.

By Syed Jaffer

I wrote the following piece when a debate started to respond to the senate committee of United States of America, the ruling parties and the opposition both were against the act and termed it interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and an attack on the sovereignty of the country. No one can deny that there are problems in the province of Baluchistan that have not been solved till now. There certainly is a section of population that demand freedom and wand to separate. But it is very hard to determine it they have majority following in the province. I was a regular visitor to Balochistan after 1971 war and can rightfully claim to have walked on foot between Kashmor to Sui field. I was with an inspection firm known as Inspection & Reclamation Services (Pak) Limited as an industrial radiographer and pipeline inspector, a contractor to Pakistan Petroleum Limited and Sui Gas Transmission Company had the opportunity to stay on Sui Plant for almost 4 months for the war damage survey. Another stint of about 8 months on an 18 inch diameter pipeline project with its camps at Bhong Shareef, Sadikabad or Sui Plant

Mode to commute between Karachi and job site was by air to Sui Field or Sukkhar and Jeep thereafter. During my 4 month stay on the plant had a deep desire to visit Dera Bugti to see for myself how the leftist Sardars of NAP have worked for the uplift of their tribes because talking to the Bugti workers was shear disappointment what they used to tell me was that they can’t build schools in the Dera, if they dare these are demolished. The visit to Dera Bugti never materialized one due to fear that local chieftains will not like it and two due to the work load. The description about Dera Bugti I got was a settlement of few houses with absolutely no amenities. During seventies there was asphalt top road only up to Kashmor, and from there onward it was dusty track without any development anywhere to be seen. At place it was even difficult to determine the direction which side to go, the track being under fine sand. Water courses all were without culverts or bridges even with jeep crossing was difficult. Few places were sandy without possibility to cross over those sand-dunes like patches. To add to the difficulty you would come across checking squads of the local tribes every now and then. Further you were not allowed to have your own drive. Every small stretch had a different driver requiring change of driver specific for the specific territory and acceptable to the local tribes. My first jeep drive to Sui Plant was horrifying. In normal circumstances it was possible to take a Fokker F27 Friendship or a Twin Otter 19 seater air craft of PIA between Karachi and Sui Field usually chartered by PPL. This situation was very special, landing at the Sui landing strip was not possible due to damage run-way by strafing and loose un-exploded 500 pound bombs that were lying all around. PIA has maintained its travel quality for the passengers; those days too water-bottle in the Twin Otter kept for the passengers would fell down at every small radios banking of the plane. The original program of flight by Fokker to Sukkhar and army helicopter to Sui was not possible; helicopter was not available in time, we had to reach without losing a minute. I was 25 then and deeply in romance with Karl Marx, Lenin, and Mao from the distant land of pure and their local disciples like Sibte Hassan, Major Ishaq, Afzal Bungash etc. condemning the USA were part of the faith those days. General Idea was that the Baloch leaders are more progressive in their political outlook than all the other leaders in the country. It is considered that the industrial workers is the more enlightened and by nature progressive among all the classes. To my utter disbelief the contract workers on the plant did not know what the class contradiction is how peasantry and industrial worker can bring about revolution. During the second duration I worked on 18 inch diameter pipeline project between Kashmor and Sui, I used to be with the construction and fabrication teams. Each day we would progress by one mile and the next day would be next one mile section. The pipe line had to cross the land-properties that belonged to different Sardars, Deputy Sardars, and tribes. Each territory had its own rules. Labor and people belonging to one territory of a Sardar would not be allowed in the adjoining territory. Therefore team of entirely new crew of labor after every stretch of a few miles.

The entire rout of Pipeline between Kashmore to gas field was infertile and sandy hardly a green leaf would be visible. Hardly a drop of water would be available on the entire right-of-way of the pipeline project. We used to carry 2.5 liter glass bottled thermos flasks to meet our water needs at times used to carry lemonade, salted Lassi (a drink made of blended curd in water) with slices of onion in it. The terrain is Sibbi the hottest land of the entire world where the temperature rises to 55 degrees Celsius under the shaded area. If you throw water on the under construction pipeline you could see the wet area reduce as if a frying pan gets dried on a burning stove. One day I got myself in a very ugly situation when I got my stock of water etc. completely exhausted and had two options either stop work go back to fetch some water and come back again to finish the work. Our team comprised only of me and the driver. The other option was to carry on with the work and send the driver for getting some water. To save myself from another trip I chose the latter, and asked the driver to visit the nearest place where there is some water available. I continued with the work of exposing gamma radiographes (X-rays) and inspection of the pipeline welded joints. Occasionally when my eyes focused to the distant places nothing was visible except the mirage as if there was vast sea of water there. Two hours past and there was no sign of the jeep or the driver, the thirst and urge for a few drops of water was unbearable, felt as if I am about to die, the dry throat and nasal cavity and tract would not allow me easy breathing. On pipeline construction it is a required to keep water drums for curing concrete blocks and different civil construction if any. The equipment that shoots radiograph (X-rays) weighs about 65 kg I kept that over the pipe so that it is clearly visible from a distance and started walking on the direction from where the jeep would arrive. Few minutes later I came across a drum that had water in it, about three quarter full. It had long hairy algae about a meter in length visible behind the dusty contaminated water. I collected some water by making a bowl of my hands and drank it, it was extremely hot, enough to receive a teabag in it. It was my experience of a few hours that I spent alone on the barren land of Baluchistan without any inhabitation. As you pass on the track I won’t call it road you find check posts every now and then. Check post are made of table like structures made of Y type wooden stems without using any nail or rope, just set on each other to make it a cot like structure of about 6 to 7 feet high and about the same area manned by a guard from the relevant tribe. During the fabrication phase when everyone was on the site full of people doing their jobs I would find time to stroll to the check post that came by. I felt fortunate if the guard on the post was able to communicate to me with few broken words of Urdu. Almost everyone on the post was to check the attack of enemy; the people of the adjoining tribe. That poor person the faithful guard of the tribe chieftain was there day and night

at a place I was about to die with thirst. Most painful is the fact that the same tribes that guard themselves for attacks in Baluchistan live in the same locality in Karachi join the same clubs and occasionally dine together on the same table. To me the Sardars are more to be blamed it is they who have kept their tribes in fighting. It is the Sardars that have kept their tribes illiterate. When I was there even a radio was a scarce thing to be found with the poor people. Those days when one could hardly earn Rs. 1200 as a high salary per month a transistor radio would cost Rs. 600. Among the tribes there was hardly a soul to give them knowledge of their political rights and not at all possible to hold a political meeting of any kind unless allowed by the chiefs. Normally it is the locals whether they are the social workers or local bodies that run around and arrange for the education of their localities. It is these forums that pursue with authorities for the roads water and other civil amenities. How such facilities could be provided to the common people there can only have local solution. These are the area where no one, no matter how powerful, could enter. The areas were under the direct control of the tribal chiefs. There were areas towards Uthal deep inside where on your visit the locals would show you the hospitality by providing you food and would ask at the end what your jeep would require to fill its stomach. It is not an exaggeration but the narration I myself heard form a friend of my father who used to roam around searching for minerals during sixties. To those locals it was the first occasion when they saw a Jeep and they considered it a living animal used for riding. Baluchistan issue has always been the topic for discussion between the well-off executives and intellectuals. Particularly the issue has become a central topic for discussion when it was raised in the US House of Lords. I call them Lords because I had the opportunity to watch most of them only when they were responding (in fact not) to questions of reporters after the discussion in the US House of Commons, where member were not allowed to speak after the Florida elections ironically it was Al Gore who was disallowing any discussion in his own favor about his own election. General allegation is that the Baloch are these days under occupation forces of The Pakistan Army; I can only laugh on that. They are never famous for any occupation while surrender has been their trademark. Those who oppose the occupation of Pakistan army like to invite USA, this country has a record of being an occupation force on several lands at several occasions. Whenever USA left the occupied land there was only disaster for the locals and only benefit as much as possible the companies that are incorporated in USA. Baluchistan is an issue there is no doubt, but that cannot be compared with the situation that prevailed in East Pakistan of late sixties, the entire dynamics is not identical. The land at that time called East Pakistan was ruled by military government from the western part. There was no constitution or a set of rules under which to negotiate. All

the parties to the conflict were not willing to concede. There was a distance of 1000 miles between the control center and the land under control. The international politics was different at that time and the group that worked for secession had backing of strong international lobby that was fully committed to their cause and there were international treaties that worked against Pakistan. Above all the political rights of the people living in densely populate land were usurped by the dictators. The entire population of East Pakistan seemed inclined to the same cause and these people had education. Due to the boycott of the largest party NAP of Bhashani it appeared as if Awami League was the only representative of Bengalis. The ruling elite from the west consciously worked for the separation of that part and systematically paved the way for it. There was absolutely no dialogue between the participants, the stake holders were intentionally kept apart by ruling military junta. Such conditions do not prevail in Baluchistan. The geopolitical situation here is entirely different; the population is very thin and dispersed on a very large area. Inhabitants mostly are illiterate and for centuries were kept away from scientific and industrial developments enjoyed by common people around the world. It is certain that those who are talking about the rights of people have the track record of not creating conditions for the betterment of their own people. Now the land has a constitution that works, the provinces have their rights defined on which to bargain for the rights of their people. A system and laws are in place and enforced for the people to elect their chosen representatives. The provincial representatives have the right to spend their share according to their own will. The federating units can go to the extent of inviting capital investment from abroad for the progress of their province. The federation is more than willing to concede to the demands of the locals and unanimously feel ashamed for not working for the uplift of the common people there. Almost every party has apologized to all the accesses that were committed in the past against the Baloch people. USA is a democratic country therefore it too has to go by some rules, I am sure the US will not install the tribal chiefs as the kings of that area and leave the entire population to the mercy of those kings. By default The US has to create some kind of representative system there. The Baloch Sardars have no choice but to go to the people for the vote to come into power. If the absconding Sardars work within the present setup they will be in a better bargaining position compared to after achieving their so called liberation. The USA surely will not take Baluchistan as its federating state nor will it be accepted as the US territory. US government must be better aware of how the tribal system has been working there for centuries. Historical facts though changed there are still people who remember the autonomy the US gave to the locals and natives of their lands. Apache and Comanche the name of tribes that lived in the US have vanished even from the dictionaries. If you ask a general question a kid will say it is a helicopter.

The other choice the Baloch Sardars have is to go for a prolonged struggle against the so called occupation forces as they prefer to call it. I am a Pakistani citizen and bound by my oath to work for the unity and integrity of the country. The province of Baluchistan is legally and constitutionally a part of Pakistan. Any struggle that a section of Baloch people start against the authority of Pakistan will be an act of sedition to me. I will be duty bound to stand by my forces when they are in action for the sovereignty of Pakistan. I am sure with this view I won’t be alone; there will be many on the soil of Balochistan too. The best choice for us all will be to work jointly for the benefit of the downtrodden and uplift of the poor. After several decades of struggle we have been able to teach ourselves the benefit of consultation to solve problems. The system that has been put in place has started functioning and has great potential to improve. The possibility in the present system exists where we have the power to bargain for our rights. What we have achieved has a great contribution of the Baloch people too. I f we jointly try to make the correct system work and improve it why eliminate a possibility to live together as respectable citizens of a country and work for its progress. With the availability of the provincial autonomy the smaller provinces have a better chance of demanding the rights. There are hundreds of political and social workers in this country who do work for the betterment of underprivileged, these people will join you for your rights. We believe that the respective province should get the royalty for the mineral exploitation from that province. I would go a step further in demanding the compensation against the gas consummated by the entire country right from 1953. It is just a pleasant coincidence that while I wrote this I found the following cyclostyle copy of the resolutions that demands full autonomy for Baluchistan. It is an honor for me that the Reception address was delivered by my father Syed Allah Bux as Secretary Baluchistan Reforms Front. The resolution was moved by Mr. Ahmed Ebrahim Haroon Jaffer while Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar presided. This could the first ever demand for the autonomy of the province it therefore is natural that I too should be in love with the province and its people.

Photo graph Mr. Syed Allah Bux with Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar in the back ground it is Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan who became President of Pakistan.