I have spent all my life in Pakistan, and can speak about my own people with insight than any other. This probably holds true for other peoples of the world, but Pakistanis do not like unpopular opinions and prefer floating with the flow in their individual and group comfort zones that are usually established less on reason and more on rhetoric.
There are umpteen examples of the mindlessness that my countrymen have preferred sticking to. Quite a sizeable number of Pakistanis believed that 9/11 was not done by Al-qaeda, and it was a conspiracy of the Jews. I clearly recall in my mid-20s the feverish romanticism about the so-called caliphate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and how a Lahori religious scholar, now late, campaigned to prove that Taliban were the beacon of Islamic renaissance. He wrote, spoke, campaigned and tried his best to prove that Taliban meant a religio-political glory of the Muslims, and that everybody in Pakistan should welcome them.
Then came terrorism. Despite having thousands of Pakistanis mercilessly butchered in the streets and bazaars, my countrymen still like to believe in the mantra that our political and military leaders spout: terrorists have no religion. Whether or not they have a religion, I leave that question to the inquisitive minds of the readers.
Quite a sizeable number of Pakistanis believed that 9/11 was not done by Al-Qaeda, and it was a conspiracy of the Jews
Popular opinions are merely popular opinions, and not necessarily the correct ones. Situation is not different when it comes to discussing Balochistan, the types of militant movements, and the damages these have done to the people, society and state there. No one with a grain of knowledge of the history of Federation-Balochistan relations can deny the poor, and at time atrocious handling by the Federation but that is the one side of the story. The other side of the story is about the people of Balochistan and their approach toward the Federation and their own political and economic mainstreaming.
It is a popular argument that all troubles in Balochistan are the making of either the federation or the Punjab province, whereas hardly any questions are raised on what exactly the rulers in Quetta have achieved thus far. You talk about the political responsibility that the Baloch must bear, the counter, and again a popular opinion confronts you that the ones who rule are the stooges of the Punjabi establishment. You talk about Baloch youth to learn the modern skills and try creating their economic narratives across Pakistan, a counter argument comes that they should be provided with opportunities within their own areas. Leaving the motherland is against the nationalist pride, one learns at that moment.
When industrial development of Sindh and Punjab is discussed, Punjab particularly receives the lashing for ‘stealing’ the natural resources of Balochistan. This argument on thievery of the natural resources is particularly interesting, as most agreements are legal, though the terms and conditions could be revisited. For that, none other but the Baloch themselves have to lead the process and put in the hard work. Sloganeering and harboring constant annoyance toward the federation, or Punjab, shall not do that.
The writer is a social entrepreneur and a student of Pakistan’s social and political challenges. Twitter: @mkw72
Published in Daily Times, June 26th, 2017.