“The Bugti and Marri tribes have been under fire for a while, for instigating war. What people don’t know is why we call for independence. It’s a shame to see that the powerhouse of the country has no gas and electricity across half the province, leave alone cellular signals and internet connection. The people are in a state of incommunicado, and it’s not healthy. The health budget is low, like any other area of the country. But the excessive influx and uncontrolled illegal immigration of neighboring Afghans is a threat to demographics. Hospitals are filled with more Afghans than Baloch, Brauhi, or the locals. The looming threat of terrorism is also a result of unprecedented people coming in and out. We, Baloch nationalists, claim that the little development coming in is at the cost of exploitation. My own story is the same as most children. Children who have grown up amidst war are fighters today. They’re declared terrorists. They could have been doctors and engineers; they could have been living in hostels instead of camps and would have had a pen in their hands rather than weapons. It breaks my heart to see my people like this. I was among the ones living in one of the many cities of Dera Bugti district. For three months, it was a state of a clampdown. No one was spared. Not the hospitals, not the women, not the children. My school was turned into “Shamshaan Ghaat”. People burnt alive as everything was set on fire. Picking up pieces of meat, and mutilated dead bodies is a kind of pain I pray you never have to experience. The eyes can’t see what the mind doesn’t know. This is the face of the war we don’t know what exists, it’s a parallel universe for us, and it is unfathomable for most of us. It’s not even about being disloyal to the state, it’s more about owning our people, and taking responsibility for what’s happening. No state, ever, has treated rebellion with a carrot instead of a stick. It is natural and it is bound to create more conflict. Targeting the causes is the only way out. The first of which is development, social development, primarily, education and healthcare. I am going to be brutally honest in my thoughts. The state has failed to grant the Baloch their rights, and treat them fairly. Their sufferings are the same as poor people anywhere else in the country, be it Sindh, KPK or Punjab. It’s the same deprivation which causes riots everywhere in the world, for example, the French Revolution and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The USA doesn’t want peace and China has so much at stake. Afghanistan and India are hostile anyway and don’t want peace in Pakistan for obvious reasons. So with all the presence of so many non-state actors, stability in the province is a far off dream. However, an independent country, primarily based on ethnicity in a region as volatile as this? No, not happening. China will never allow it, neither will the USA. Afghanistan and Iran will also come under fire in demands of a “Greater Baluchistan” exactly like the handful of nationalists from Afghanistan who have rejected the Durand Line, as asked for a greater “Pakhtunistan”. Their purpose is to keep the conflict going because it benefits them. War has no winners, it leaves behind a trail of death and misery. Raped women, child soldiers, mental illness, emotional and physical trauma along with a lot of blood. No one well informed enough, in their right mind, would take up arms in a war they know they can’t win or lose, or a war in which there is no hope of victory or defeat. But politics is a dirty game, and unrest always suits the game. In a province with harsh terrain, a small uneducated and unaware population but one which has the heart to fight like a tiger is the perfect chessboard for it. I came to discover it in my shot time span here, the Baloch are much like the Pushtuns, they put their values first and their people first. They don’t give up. They refuse to bow down and live in slavery. To them, preserving and maintaining their pride, their culture, and their language is everything. I can’t tell the difference, minus the language and the attire, from back home in KPK and how things function here. This is why Baluchistan and NWFP were never treated on the same footing as Punjab and Sindh under British Raj. And why the unrest in these regions have been more. It’s why these provinces have been unwilling to let the state subjugate them and their culture to develop it, as has been the case with Punjab over the course of history. With anti-terrorist operations going on, the military is too much in favor in front of the people of KPK. They weren’t going to turn against their saviors, and they shouldn’t. Baluchistan was an easy target. Non-state actors have their part, but it must not be forgotten that other factors come into play when there is a power vacuum. Nawaz picked all the wrong allies in Baluchistan. This govt really needs to buck up if they want things to work. And we have an opportunity to make China realize that CPEC is causing us a lot of trouble. Pakistan can’t have a strategic alliance with China and the USA at the same time, why should we even try? Despite the fact that Chahbahar was built on Indian money, as was Sistan, and even though the term “Muslim Brotherhood” is used a lot in global politics, it means nothing, now that Iran is on friendly terms us, aligning ourselves with Iran instead of playing lapdog to the USA and KSA would do us much better; particularly in light of India-US, and US-Iran relations and seeing how we can use the maritime situation to our advantage. The Indian Ocean is being nuclearized, unless we take a timely stance we will be dragged into someone else’s mess like we were in the war of terror. We need to watch out for our people, our country, and for Baluchistan. Or else, entire Pakistan will bleed. Hoping against hope, always and forever, is called Iman. And there is no shortage of it, not in our country, nor in the hearts of its people! Let us hope and pray and strive for peace.