Pakistan is going through a difficult time. Citizens of the state often blame corrupt leadership, bad governance, incompetent authorities, and unfair distribution of opportunities and resources as reasons behind the ongoing crises. However, a large number of the Baloch population of Pakistan`s largest province, Balochistan, see other reasons for these crises. They consider the state`s contrasting attitudes and behaviour towards its own citizens a big reason for the ongoing crises. The feelings of being kept intentionally deprived, poor, and deceived are some common ones among a great number of Baloch in the province.
Therefore, the stakeholders, representatives of the Baloch people and other concerned authorities should understand Baloch Mayar and see Baloch through that lens instead of taking Baloch Mayar as a mere unpracticed tradition. In short, it is inevitable to understand the psyche of the Baloch to end a crucial internal issue within the state, which is only possible by understanding his set of principles, that is, the Baloch Mayar
For instance, on a recent visit to Dalbandin and a short stop at Noshki, I noticed that people blame the state for their poverty and poor conditions of health, infrastructure, and energy. In short, they blame the state for whatever deprivation they are facing. People in Dalbandin, particularly the literate ones, had only complaints about their representatives as well as the state. Similar complaints and grievances are on the lips of every dissident Baloch.
We neeed to understand the psyche of the Baloch and then we can suggest a way forward to understanding the Baloch and addressing their grievances to bring peace in the region. Peace is after all a prerequisite for sustainable development.
First, according to a Baloch nationalist author Inayatullah Baloch, Baloch Mayar or Baloch Code of Honor has a great place in the lives of Baloch. This includes Laj (modesty), Ghairat (honour), Izzat (reputation), and Nang o Namoos (Prestige, honour). Unfortunately, many representatives of the Baloch people who are supposed to be ideals, also do not adhere to Baloch Mayar. Like etbar (trust) is a principle of Baloch Mayar which is often broken by them as well as the state and government officials who claim to change the fate of the people of the province but fail to do so.
Qual (promise) is another principle of Baloch Mayar. According to this principle, a Baloch is supposed to stay loyal to his words and promises. However, it is taken for granted by the majority of the representatives of the Baloch themselves. While few other key authorities, whether Baloch or not, also take it for granted.
Second, the Baloch asks for honour, as already confessed by our former heartless colonial masters, the British. If not dealt with honour, which is not mere verbal honour, Ber or Hun (revenge) is another principle of Baloch Mayar that asks him to defend his honour. Killing and abduction of any of his tribesmen in particular asks for him to take revenge. A Baloch battal (proverb) throws light on the concept of ber, “The Baloch`s revenge for blood/Remains as young for two hundred years/As a deer of two years”
If the issue of Baloch missing persons is seen from this lens, then it is not hard to digest that an insurgency at a low scale can continue for an infinite time in Balochistan. Apart from the issue of Baloch missing persons, tribal rivalries particularly in rural Balochistan, and exploitation of the lower strata by the upper one cause more blood and loss of valuable investments. As investors are unlikely to invest in a war-like situation and the province direly needs investments.
Third, a great number of FC personnel are posted in Balochistan. The majority, if not all of them, are unaware of the Baloch Mayar and almost all dissident Baloch in Balochistan have been harassed by them in one way or the other. An officer of the armed forces of a top rank might not be a threat to the national integration of Pakistan but the unjust, unfair, and even sometimes humiliating behaviour of the FC personnel on various checkposts is a threat to the social cohesion of the state.
Moreover, the majority of the FC personnel deployed in Balochistan are Pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who hardly know anything about the local people of Southern Balochistan. Whereas the innocent and mostly less educated Baloch cannot differentiate between the Pashtun residents of Balochistan and those of KPK. Many of them have started considering Pashtuns in general as anti-Baloch. While anti-Punjab sentiments have already been present in the province for a long time, it should be kept in mind that Pashtuns are the second major ethnic group in Balochistan. Misconceptions about Pashtuns are looming threats to the security and safety of the province and its people.
Therefore, it is recommended that everyone who is appointed in a Baloch-majority area should be taught the basics of Baloch Mayar, including FC personnel who are unintentionally causing the gap to further widen between the Baloch and the state. Because many dissidents seem to be under the impression that their senior officers ask them to keep their behaviour inhumane with the residents of the province.
Representatives of the people should also stick to Baloch Mayar and avoid choosing shortcuts to go to the Assembly or Parliament. Fair distribution of the resources of the province and provision of opportunities to its people can also decrease their grievances and can improve the rotten image of their representatives as well as the state.
However, the most pressing issue in this regard is of the Baloch missing persons. It has not only kept the insurgency alive but also keeps fueling it. Because any Baloch who strictly adheres to Baloch Mayar will hardly forget an event that is against his Laj, Ghairat, Izzat, and Nang o Namoos.
Therefore, the stakeholders, representatives of the Baloch people and other concerned authorities should understand Baloch Mayar and see Baloch through that lens instead of taking Baloch Mayar as a mere unpracticed tradition. In short, it is inevitable to understand the psyche of the Baloch to end a crucial internal issue within the state, which is only possible by understanding his set of principles, that is, the Baloch Mayar.
The writer is research Fellow at Balochistan Think Tank Network, Quetta