Editorial: Ensuring Baloch-Pashtun Unity at All Costs
On Wednesday, Pashtun nationalist leader Mahmood Khan Achakazi set a disappointing precedence by publicly provoking his followers against the Baloch population. While addressing a public rally at Sadiq Shaeed Football Stadium, Achakzi, who heads the Pashtunkhawa Milli Awami Party (PkMP), blamed the Balochs for the backwardness and ‘under-representation’ of his ethnic community. He contested the historic claim of Balochs over their own native land where, Achakzai argued, the Pashtuns had lived for a longer time than the Balochs.
As expected Achakzai’s remarks have attracted some harsh responses from Baloch nationalist leaders. We consider such verbal arguments among political leaders absolutely unnecessary and imprudent. They are contrary to the aspirations of the Balcoh and Pashtun populations because the common Baloch and Pashtun citizens are truly proud of their cordial historic and geographic friendships and relationships. Since these ties of mutual respect and cooperation are much deeper than everyday politics, we strongly discourage any political misadventures that lead to differences between the brotherly nations of Balochistan. Since Islamabad has had a long history of deliberately pitting the Pashutns against the Baloch by patronizing Afghan refugees on the Baloch land and manipulating the results of census, leaders in Balochistan should not waste their time debating false and exaggerated statistics that are primarily intended to confuse the demography of Balochistan.
Mr. Achakzai does not represent the entire Pashtun population of Balochistan. The vast majority of the Pashtuns vote for the Jammiat-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), the Awami National Party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam and Nawaz) and the Pakistan People’s Party. Despite differences in political ideology and approach with the Baloch, most of the Pashtuns genuinely believe in unity and cooperation with the Balochs. Over many years, the two nations have developed family relations and established economic ties. We hope they understand that Mr. Achakzai is playing with fire only to embark upon his electoral campaign for the upcoming general elections. It is unwise to allow one man’s electoral ambitions to plant the seeds of hatred among brotherly nations. Some sections of power in Rawalpindi wish to divert attention from the actual problems of Balochistan by pitting the Pashtuns against the Baloch. We strictly advise the Baloch leadership not to be trapped in such tricks. They have to focus on their genuine political goals.
Mr. Achakzai’s politics has witnessed a dramatic decline in the past one decade. Because of his confused politics which makes it difficult for his followers to understand where he stands on certain issues, liberal and progressive politics in the Pashtun belt has died. Today, almost every seat in the Pashtun districts is won by the righ-wing pro-Taliban Jammiat-Ulema-e-Islam. The PkMAP even faces a tough time in winning an electoral seat from Qila Abdullah, Mr. Achakzai’s native town.
In politics, people achieve what they stand for. If the Pashtuns are lagging behind, it is because of the failure of their own leadership. What the Balochs have (or have not) achieved against Islamabad is because of a robust political movement. Everyday Baloch youths give their lives and face brutal torture to defend their democratic rights. Mr. Achakzai should take a look at the Baloch women and children to learn a lesson that people achieve what they struggle for. Unfortunately, we have not seen Achakzai leading a popular political movement for the rights of the Pashtuns. Hatred (toward Baloch) is not a policy nor should it be part of one’s political ideology. The best political manifesto should promise incentives to its followers. Speaking against the Balochs is a shortcut for Mr. Achakzai to hide his own failures.
Because of Mr. Achakzai’s indolence and what appears to be his soft corner for Pakistani military establishment, the entire movement of Pakistan’s Oppressed Nations, also called PONM, collapsed after took over as the chairman of the alliance. As long as veteran Baloch nationalist leader Sardar Attaullah Mengal led PONM, it galvanized Pakistan’s all oppressed nations across the country for their genuine rights. While Islamabad continued human rights abuses and economic exploitation in Balochistan, PONM did not object to what implicitly came as a violation of its charter. Achakzai neither showed the leadership to successfully head PONM nor the willingness to resign from the coveted position. He should have ideally paved the way for a more committed and pragmatic leader, preferably from Sindhi or Sariaki communities who have not been offered the opportunity to lead PONM until now.
Malik Siraj Akbar
The Baloch Hal
Also Read: Editorial: Blackmailing the Balochs
Published in The Baloch Hal on June 29, 2012