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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


'Pindi, Provinces and Proxies: Pakistan to Khoklastan'

Balochistan's ambivalent belonging and unresolved accession, harking immediately prior to the 1947-48 Kashmir war, heretofore evolved into a low-level (quasi-Marxist) insurgency during the mid-70s. This is now deliberately displayed for public consumption by Pakistani officialdom as an irredentist movement of putative anti-national elements sponsored from near abroad. Its grimmest commentary is revealed by the silence about mayhem and murder visited upon an oppressed Muslim minority by an oppressive Muslim majority. It merits, predictably, neither mention nor outrage regionally or internationally. Then there is the harsh spotlighting of the cognitive dissonance across the Islamic oecumene where sensibilities are selectively animated and regularly vented to accentuate the politics of difference and non-Muslim involvement in sharper relief. The plea for Muslim exceptionalism, whence exculpation of agency involving perpetrators from the fold, is frequently condonable but infrequently culpable.

Constitutional democracies on the other hand, like Great Britain, India and Israel, have a harder time when minority grievances driven by identitarianism are reported extensively and critiqued intensively within academe, commentariat and the public sphere. It is axiomatic that vigilance and accountability remains the cornerstone of transparent executives, responsive legislatures and responsible judiciaries answerable to socially conscious denizens, many of whom remain vociferous activists assured of their life and liberty, and not subject to a mendacious military spawning and tutoring proxies to obliterate domestic dissent.

Such a state of affairs is for Pakistanis, not to mention Muslims in Xinjiang or elsewhere, enviously chimerical. Whence Pakistan is given an easier ride to do as it pleases in Balochistan compared to India in Jammu and Kashmir. It is this false equivalence and hypocrisy, which intellectuals and academics, largely of the left, are loath to admit has been highlighted here. It is also a staple with bien pensant progressives who are condescending in that they place a lower premium on the rights of those hapless Muslims whose plight does not dovetail with their default prejudices.

This work also posits that Pakistan, contrary to prevalent misperceptions, is neither a failing nor failed state. Its Panjabi custodians, alongside Chinese stage-managers, are far too vested to let it unravel-- or Balochistan where the CPEC corridor terminates, and whose indigenous Balochs, rightful inheritors of its nearly $500bn mineral ore and gas reserves, remain suppressed when not slain.

What has ensued, however, is that Pakistan's ideational justification, drawn from the well-springs of Muslim exclusivism, can now only be invoked feebly to assuage those mired in its politics of despair. The hemorrhaging of credibility and confidence in institutions, deliberate stymying of constructive if alternate thinking within civil society, and entrenchment of functional anarchy by vested sectors of its deep state has led to a gradual hollowing of the state thus becoming a land of the void, namely, Khoklastan.

*At the University of London, Burzine Waghmar is affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Pakistan (CSP), Centre for Iranian Studies (CIS), SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) and London Middle East Institute (LMEI). His reports on the provincial insurgency and on-going Pakistani violations of Baloch human rights have been presented at the United Nations, Geneva; House of Lords, London; and Amnesty International, London. Besides French, German, Italian, Persian and Russian, his South Asian reading and research skills include Urdu, Pashto, Balochi, Kashmiri, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and those Indo-Iranian dialects and ethnic communities along the Irano-Pak, Sino-Pak and Af-Pak borders (Balochistan, Trans-Karakoram Tract, Gilgit-Baltistan/Northern Areas, NWFP/Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, FATA).

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