THESIS STATEMENT: Despite the similar unfair treatment towards Balochistan, like Bangladesh; Balochistan is not the same situation as Bangladesh. Ever since Pakistan came into being it has faced numerous challenges, some of which have been crucial to overcome in light of its handicapped economy, and lack of a headstrong goverment. A very crucial point along these years has been the loss of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, which revolted against the government of Pakistan due to unfair treatment of their people and gained independence for themselves with the help of the Indian Army, when matters were beyond bad.
The case in discussion here is the recent turmoil in Balochistan; their lack of autonomy, lack of security, and extraction of resources. Does that make Balochistan the next Bangladesh? According to the following analysis, not so much. Social Similarities: The cry for independence in East Pakistan that led to the formation of Bangladesh started from the language riots. When East Pakistan, which made up 60 percent of Pakistan’s population, was denied their right to Bengali being the national language; they became infuriated since most people there couldn’t speak Urdu or English very well.
This need for their language brought about the start of the Bengali nationalism. The angry Bengalis of East Pakistan started rioting massively, fighting for their language; hence uniting the youth and the students towards one cause and starting the Bengali Nationalist Movement. The nationalism in Bengalis and their protests towards the wrong being done to them in other ways such as politically and economically brought about their first cry for independence.
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Similarly in Balochistan, the exploitation of their people, the atrocities done to them, and unfair conditions has led to the Balochistan Nationalist Movements. Organizations like BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), BRA (Balochistan Republican Army), and BLF (Balochistan Liberation Fund) are all working towards supporting Baloch nationalism and fighting for their rights. Even though the cause of this nationalism in Balochistan does not have much to do with language, the fact that this nationalism has evolved and is now pressing the Balochis towards wanting independence, is a striking similarity etween Balochistan and Bangladesh. It can be said that this nationalism is what is driving both Balochis and Bengalis towards the larger picture of wanting independence. Differences: Even though socially Bangladesh and Balochistan are similar with their nationalism standing high and above, there are a lot of social differences that keep them apart from falling under the same situation. In Bangladesh, the Bengalis were a lot more united as a whole.
Since the beginning Bengalis never wanted to be divided, but when they were done so against their will and then given to a federation that didn’t allow its language, agitation had built up amongst the Bengalis. This nationalism amongst them was very uniting, and helped them in the later years when they faced other unfair conditions politically and economically. So the fact that their leader Sheikh Mujib Ur Rehman and their different Nationalist movements led by the students were very united in their goals made their nationalism even stronger.
It can be said that those leading the protests in Bangladesh wanted the goodwill of all the Bengalis and wanted their voice heard. However, in Balochistan that unity is seen missing. Historically, Balochistan was a large land mass which had different tribes living together, divided into borders, each on their own. Balochistan as a primordial ethnicity never existed. The Mughals had first set up Kaalat, with a king/emperor given the title of ‘Khan’. Slowly, five different states were set up in Balochistan, each with their own leader.
Later on when Pakistan came into being, these 5 states were still pretty much separate without a larger name of a geo political entity. The name Balochistan was given to these tribes’ years after they had been a part of Pakistan, in 1971 when Balochistan was made a province. Slowly and gradually the political issues started tearing the Balochis into protesting for their rights. Since the tribes had been divided and appointed Sardars/chiefs to rule them, these Sardars started manipulating their own Balochi people into getting the government to fulfill their demands.
Hence the Sardars would light up a fire, the people would start riots and the Government of Pakistan would pay them to calm them down. This continued until the Balochis backfired on their own Sardars and kicked them out of Balochistan. In light of this, it can be said that Balochistan isn’t very united in its cry for independence/autonomy. The different organizations working for the Balochistan Nationalist Movement don’t work together, since they come from different families and have different agendas of their own.
The Balochis were led down by their own Sardars who should have been holding them together and protecting them, but instead they were not willing to put aside their own agendas, goals and conflicts; this made the different Sardars stand against one another and not come together to stand for a larger cause for their people. Hence Balochistan is way different from Bangladesh in the sense that it lacks Bangladesh’s unity and strength that came from their union in Nationalism. Economical Similarities: Balochistan and Bangladesh both present one similarity, which is economical neglect from the rest of Pakistan.
When Bangladesh was East Pakistan, it formed 60% of Pakistan’s population; however, resources were put more towards the establishment of West Pakistan, as compared to East Pakistan. Hence, East Pakistan was always economically ignored and not given higher weightage in line of the fact that they formed a larger portion of Pakistan. Resources were taken from East Pakistan and put to the betterment of West Pakistan; later in the years Ayub Khan’s industrialization plan, which was the golden age of Pakistani Capitalism, also involved setting up industries in West Pakistan, instead of East Pakistan.
In the very same manner, Balochistan is also being economically neglected. Even though Balochistan is a desert and is largely barren, that does not mean that it lacks its fair share of natural resources. The land of Balochistan contains natural resources like Sui Gas and Rico Diq, which are worth hundreds of billions of dollars making it one of the world’s potentially richest regions. Yet, the people of Balochistan live in poverty, deprived of clean drinking water, education, and the natural gas that their own land pumps to the rest of Pakistan.
This makes it a similar target of extraction of resources and lack of constructive attention, just like Bangladesh was. Geo Strategic Differences: Even though similar in the unfair treatment they received economically, Both Bangladesh and Balochistan are different from one another from a geo strategic point of view. Talking about Balochistan, it is the largest land mass of Pakistan, is full of natural resources like oil, gas, coal, gold and many other precious materials and minerals, which are largely valuable to Pakistan.
It plays a very important role on the foreign affairs of Pakistan by sharing borders with Iran, and Afghanistan. Protected by the surrounding Arabian Sea as well as mountainous ranges, Balochistan is connected to CARs through the Chaman Pass. Countries like China take interest in developing the Gawadar port in Balochistan; whereas the US also has immense interest in Balochistan’s large land mass; hence its unique geo strategic position is very important for Pakistan.
Bangladesh on the other hand was never much important for Pakistan from a geo strategic point of view. Since East Pakistan was thousands of miles away from West Pakistan, with a large mass of enemy territory in between; Bangladesh never held any geo strategic importance. Moreover, Bangladesh didn’t have the billions of dollars worth of resources, neither did it have any importance to the US which further decreased its geographical importance for Pakistan. The US never held any interest in East Pakistan, since they didn’t sign SEATO, which was a strategic treaty.
The geographical importance of Balochistan makes it a lot more valuable for Pakistan, also since if Pakistan loses Balochistan, it basically losses its majority land area, as well as disrupts relations with its connecting countries. However, Bangladesh didn’t hold any such importance and it was always an understood fact that losing Bangladesh would be a lot easier, if ever there was an enemy attack. Political Similarities: Bangladesh was a victim of political instability from Pakistan’s end since the very beginning.
The reason Bangladesh and Balochistan want away from Pakistan is the unfair treatment they have received. This unfair treatment varies greatly between the two, but brings them under the same light in the manner that it is highly uncalled for. Bangladesh was always denied its fair share of representation as East Pakistan, similarly Balochistan isn’t given any autonomous power to control its own province; the provincial government in Balochistan has been made highly handicapped with the little power it is granted. Differences:
Politically, both Bangladesh and Balochistan fall under unfair treatment; however, the political situations in both areas are very different. When Bangladesh was still East Pakistan, the largest political problem it faced was the fact that it wasn’t granted the political representation in the government that it rightfully deserved, seeing that it was the majority area of Pakistan. From the day Pakistan was formed, till the years that followed, it was obvious that with the government being based in West Pakistan, The majority would be controlled by the minority. In his article Bangladesh: why it happened?
G. W. Choudhary writes, “Pakistan began its political career under a parliamentary system modeled on Westminster and under a federal constitution. But neither the parliamentary system nor the federation was genuine. The constitutional forms and trappings of democracy only provided a cloak for rule by the few who were able to concentrate power in their own hands. During eleven years (1947-58) of so called parliamentary democracy, there was not a single general election, and the provincial elections were described and ‘a farce, mockery and a fraud upon the electorate’. In light of this it can further be explained how East Pakistan never received its fair share of representation in the government. Moreover, there were denied their rightful power when their political party, Awami League won the elections in 1970-71. From the years that followed from 1947, when Pakistan was formed, till 1971, when Bangladesh was formed; East Pakistan was never given its fair share, neither in the army, nor in the government.
Hence they were always politically weak despite the fact that there was immense unity amongst their own organizations and political parties, working for the Bengalis. It must be noted that East Pakistan was always politically united amongst its own people; as in there weren’t sub divided feuds amongst the Bengalis that kept them politically at par with each other. In Balochistan this unity was missing. Since Balochistan had never been a single, united political entity; the Sardars were divided in their ambitions and had a tone of feuds amongst themselves.
These caused the biggest political weakness of Balochistan. Even though just like Bangladesh, Balochistan never got the representation in army, or government that it asked for; what differentiates the two is the fact that Balochistan fell victim to its own internal feuds. In his article Balochistan is no Bangladesh, Sushant Sareen describes this as, “The trouble is that while many of the tribal Sardars, in their hearts ight be supportive of the Baloch cause, or are being forced by public sentiment as well as the circumstances on the ground to pay lip-service to the aspirations of the Baloch people (for example, Akhtar Mengal insisting on a dialogue with the Pakistani authorities under the aegis of the UN), they are not willing to put aside their personal egos in the service of Baloch nationalism. Their personal ambitions, feuds, rivalries, a desire to be one-up on their fellow Sardars makes it impossible for all of them to come together for the larger cause of their people. ” Hence their leadership issues form a major political drawback for Balochistan.
Another major political issue that separates Balochistan from being the next Bangladesh is the high importance of anarchy in Balochistan. Even though the legal constitution doesn’t allow for there to be a Jirga system that prevails in Balochistan; but since the judiciary is weak and Balochis don’t trust it, they turn to the Jirga system. Since the Pakistan government never did anything substantial to stop this Jirga system, it has deep rooted itself amongst Balochistan, turning it into anarchy in the name of democracy. This has given way to the Balochistan game.
Different countries have come and started to set up their roots in Balochistan trying to take it over. MILITARY Similarities: On 25th March, 1971, Operation Searchlight was started; where six brigades of Pak Army moved into East Pakistan and arrested workers; people of East Pakistan were sexually assaulted by the army and were left crippling while their governor Sheikh Mujeed Ur Rehman was arrested. East Pakistan suffered sexual, physical, and psychological torture at the hands of their country’s army. Similarly, people in Balochistan have suffered and are still suffering at the hands of the Pakistan army.
Missing people cases are on the high, bodies are found lying around after days of waiting and the torture just doesn’t seem to stop. This forms part of the major problems of Balochistan, which is not enough security. Even though this similarity of torture at the hands of the army remains, there's no denying the fact that its intensity in Balochistan is far greater than that in Bangladesh. In light of all the above mentioned similarities and differences, a conclusion can be reached about whether or not Balochistan is going to be the next Bangladesh.
Despite the fact that the similarities remain, making it look like the same way nationalism and nationalist movememnts were a start towards the larger independence of Bangladesh, Balochistan remains a different situation. It’s safe to say that Balochistan is no Bangladesh. That statement lies on the fact that the problem of Balochistan is beyond that of unfair treatment by the government. Balochistan faces what is a severe case of lack of unity, unlike Bangladesh which was always a lot more united in its attempt to gain independence.
Balochistan is a case of crippled inner politics, encouraged by the Pakistani government that further weakens it towards not being able to gain anything substantial. BIBLIOGRAPHY: * http://www. chowrangi. com/why-balochistan-is-burning. html * http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_Bangladesh#Creation_of_Pakistan * http://www. jstor. org/discover/10. 2307/2613440? uid=2129;uid=2;uid=70;uid=4;sid=21101363476631 * http://www. thedailystar. net/forum/2011/December/on. htm * http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bengali_Language_Movement http://bangladeshwatchdog. blogspot. com/2012/02/bangladesh-and-now-balochistan. html * http://idsa. in/idsacomments/BalochistanisnoBangladesh_ssareen_190110 * http://www. defence. pk/forums/strategic-geopolitical-issues/165565-balochistan-pakistan-s-second-bangladesh. html * http://blogs. thenews. com. pk/blogs/2012/02/saving-balochistan/ * http://www. nation. com. pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/03-Oct-2012/the-balochistan-plan * http://www. bangladeshfirst. com/docdetails. php? cid=9;docid=1
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