You Can’t Lose Your Culture And Regain It: Yar Mohammad Badini

y1By Mohammad Akbar Notezai

Yar Mohammad Badini (also known as Yar Jan Badini) is a renowned Baloch scholar and explorer who has traveled extensively to find out about  the Baloch people living in different parts of the world. Born in Nushki area of Balochistan in 1967, Mr. Bidini is a crusader for the preservation and promotion of  Balochi language. He holds Masters degrees in Balochi literature and Mass Communications from the University of Balochistan, Quetta. He is currently the editor-in-chief of Balochi language monthly magazine called the Balochi Zind and English language daily, Balochistan Today. We spoke to him exclusively about his work, contemporary challenges and the future of Balochi. Excerpts:  

Can you please tell us about your work in detail?

In the beginning, I was a contributor to the Mahtak Balochi, a Balochi language magazine. I would interview in Balochi the cricketers, footballers. After that, I became a deputy editor at the Balochi Labzank. I would write literary topics for it. I also interviewed famous literary personalities of Balochistan and the country. In a nut shell, I have almostinterviewed hundreds of well known personalities about different topics about Balochistan, Balochi language, culture, literature, socio-economic issues and politics, etc.

Some of the famous people I interviewed include former Pakistan president Sardar Farooq Ahmed Lughari, former Balcohistan governor Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Attah Shad, Abdullah Jan Jamaldini, Munir Ahmed Badini, Hakim Baloch, Surat khan Marri, Dr Malik Tuqi, Basheer Ahmed Baloch,  and many more interviews of the well known personalities of Balochistan. I can in fact compile a thick book of these interviews.

After offering services at Balochi Labzank for more than 10 years, I launched my own Balochi language magazine called the Balochi Zind (The Baloch Life) to bring to light  Balochistan’s, particularly Nushki, well known persons’ literary services for the Baloch nation, as well as to provide a platform to the young Baloch writers so that they may promote their language.

In the name of Azat Jamaldini, in 1999, I published the Balochi Zind’s first publication. Then gradually and slowly, I introduced the Balochi Zind to all over the world. And up till today, Balochi Zind’s members are in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Africa, Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, etc, and even Inside Balochistan’s Makran belt. The Makran’s people especially, you know, have great enthusiasm for reading and writing Balochi.

After publishing the special edition on Azat Jamaldini, I published special editions on Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Attah Shad, Waja Muhammad Ishaq, Waja Inayat Ullah, Yousaf Aziz Magsi, Saba Dashtiyari, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Ghulam Muhammad Shahwani, and around 35 special editions on such important personalities.

Later on I realized that the huge number of the Balochs also lived in Sindh and Punjab. So, I visited the Balochs living on those provinces. I interviewed former care take Prime Minister Balakh Sher Mazari, Nabi Baksh Baloch, etc.

Similarly, I moved towards the other countries with the same goal just to search the Baloch people. I mean their language, literature, and culture.

Firstly, I went to Turkmenistan in October 1998. It visited five provinces. Among the provinces Mary, had 11 districts. In Mary’s, Balcohs lived in 5 or 6 districts. To my knowledge, the Baloch people’s number was one hundred thousand in those districts.
It was also surprising for me that they could speak Balochi in Rakhshabi dialect. They spoke just like the people of Nushki, Dalbandin and Kharan. They were also nomads in Mary.

They had migrated from Balochistan 100 years ago to Turkmenistan.

y2Which countries have you visited so far?

I have visited Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Kenya, Iran, India, Oman, Qatar Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Turkey, UAE, and Uzbekistan.

Could you please tell us about your visit to the Azerbaijan?

I visited Azerbaijan in 2012 to attend an ‘International Scientific Conference’ where 10 former presidents of the countries, 10 Noble Prize winners, 718 delegates, including me, from 60 countries of the world were present on the conference. I was only from Balochistan to speak about Balochistan and the Baloch people’s multi-dimensional challenges.

What did you talk about in your speech? 

I spoke about the refugees who migrated from Afghanistan after the invasion of the Soviet Union on Afghanistan in 1979. The Afghan ethnic groups, who migrated to Balochistan, include Pashto speaking Afghans, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Tajiks and other ethnic groups. They were not kept limited just to their camps, particularly in Balochistan. Due to which, gradually and slowly, Afghan refugees spread across the province. They also obtained Pakistani national identity cards-cum-passports.
The advent of Afghan refugees also brought a demographic change in Balochistan as the population of Balochistan is highly low as compared to the other provinces of Pakistan. Besides the demographic change, the Afghan refugees also brought drugs and arms along with that created lawlessness, disturbing the Balochistan’s Baloch people economically, socially and culturally.
I also discussed the Balochistan’s ‘geography’, ‘politics’, ‘history’, ‘geo-politics’, ‘socio-economic’, ‘socio-politics’, ‘resources’, etc, on the occasion.

Tell us about the rest of your trips.

AFRICA.

After publishing my special edition about the Balochs in Turkmenistan, the Balochs in Africa also invited me to publish an edition about the African Balochs. I accepted their invitation. I visited Kenya, Mombasa with a colleague. I met the Baloch brothers, sisters there. They were speaking Makrani dialect Balochi, e.g., the Balochi which is spoken in Turbat,Gawadar and Panjgur. In Mombasa, there was also a big street in the name of Baloch. If you would hire a taxis rickshaw and ask for the Balochi Street, so they would directly take you there. Also, there were Mosques of the Baloch people.

In Mombasa, I also met a Baloch women shopkeeper in its coastal city. She was running a store, the Shamsa General Store. “In Balochistan, the Baloch women do not sit and run shops like you,” I said. Then, after that, she looked at me and asked a question wittingly: “Do you like to see your Baloch sister to strech out her hand for begging or she should run a shop and earn money?” Believe me or not: I did not have the answer to utter.

In Uganda, Tanzania and Congo, there also the Balochs were living.

I am also being asked by African Balochs to arrange a cultural conference in Africa to bring Baloch historians there.
I also published my publication about the African Balochs.
OMAN

In Oman, 40 or more than 40 per cent people are Baloch there. Interestingly, Balochs were very educated in Oman. They were pilots, generals, doctors, teachers, brigadiers, engineers, etc. I have published speciall number of Balochi Zind about Oman, Qatar, Behrain, etc.

Baloch of the Arab countries were very proud of being called Al-Baloshi. In Behrain, I met a Baloch women minister, Fatima Al-Baloshi, she told me, “I can not speak Balochi though I love to be called a Baloch.”

y3In Oman, what do you say about the Balochs’ fight against Portuguese?

There is no doubt; Baloch has fought too much against Portuges. War stories of Hamal and Jahind are very famous in Balochi poetry, and if you discuss the fighting role of the Baloch in Oman, its clear when Portuges occupied Omani land and the Sultan of Oman migrated to Makran Balochistan. Baloch cared the Omani sultan as special guest of Balochistan through Balochi tradions. After long stay at Makran, Sultan of Oman requested the baloch to give him lashkar Army to fight against Portuguese. Baloch lashkar fought against Portuguese. At last, they defeated them. Baloch occupied their forts Merani and Jalali. Both forts were build in 1587, 1588. Now they are famous in the name of baloch Worriers Jalal and Meran.

What were the challenges of the Baloch people there?

The challenges of the Balochistan’s Baloch and Balochs of the other countries are alike. For example, health education, literature, language, and culture, of these challenges they would also have there.

Being the editor of a Balochi periodical, how do you see the development of the Balochi language in Balochistan?
For the development of the Balochi language, no one has done any remarkable works so far. It is neither being taught in our schools nor colleges. The government, on the other side, is also not working for its promotion.

In Balochistan, you can find many of the magazines in Urdu, English, but not in Balochi. There are hardly two or three magazines in Balochi.

At the time of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti as the chief minister, students in Balochistan till primary level would be imparted education in Balochi, Brahui and Pashto. But it was soon finished after his tenure.

Moreover, there is just one Balochi TV channel for the Balochs in the country unlike the Pashtuns, the Punjabis and the Sindhis who have many TV channels in their mother tongue.

For these all, I hold responsible the government because even in your APP (Associate Press of Pakistan). Excluding Balochi, there are news in Pashto, Urdu, English, Arabic, and Sindhi. So, where is the Balochs’ language if they are really considered to be the part of the country?

Does Balochi have readers in Balochistan?

To be honest, Balochi is just being read and written in Balochistan’s Makran belt. I have been publishing the Balochi Zind for more than 10 years from Nushki. But I have failed to make 5 subscribers from Nushki and Dalbandin. Even if you give to them magazine for free they will not still read them in the native place of Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Abdullah Jan Jamaldini,Gawar Malik, Munir Ahmed Badini, etc.

y4What do you think should be done for the promotion of Balochi? 

It is up to the Baloch nationalists that what to do for its promotion. Unfortunately, our own Baloch nationlists in their own native places deliver speeches in Urdu. They don’t convey their massage to the people in Balochi.

And surprisingly, in Balochistan, we just have PTV-BOLAN in which along with Balochi there is also Pashto, Urdu, etc. I am not against the Pashto language. 60 to70 percent Balochs are in Sindh, but where is the Balochi TV channel in Sindh? Where is the Balochi channel in Punjab? You just see the Pashtuns in Balocistan. You don’t see the Balochs in sindh and Punjab. Language is essentially required. It can never be regained after being lost.

In the future, Balochi and Brahui may be the Museum languages if not paid heed. It must be promoted at any cost.

Balochistan new elected Chief minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch announced that Balochi, Brahui and Pashto would be started in schools?
That’s a good starting for Balochi and other languages. If Government plays its role for the promotion of Balochi, Brahui and Pashtu languages. It is the recognized fact that all over the world when children are taught in their mother tongue they do not feel reluctant to go school and pick up concepts better. They can also express themselves in a better way.

According to some linguists, small languages, including Balochi and Brahui, will face extinct existence? Is it right?

There are many problem and difficulties faced by Balochi language, because in 21 century, we have only one Daily news paper in Balochi in the name of Nwa-e-watan Balochi, only one TV channel Vash TV and two or three Balochi magazines. There is no Film, theater, dramas in Balochi language. All these are basic things to promote the language and literature.

Does it mean you are hope less from the future of the Balochi language?

I am not hopeless but I think Balochi language and literature require much more work for the promotion of the Balochi language and to compete with other developed languages. Keep one thing in mind, if you lose your land then you can fight and get it, but if you lose your language and culture you can never get it. There are millions of Balochs who are living in Sindh and Punjab. Unfortunately, they have lost their language and Culture.

y5You are the Chairman of the Balochi Labzanki Deewan, so what is the role of the Balochi labzanki Dewan for the promotion of Balochi language and Culture?

Balochi Labzanki Dewan is playing very vital role for promotion and development of Balochi language and literature. We arrange many Seminars and conferences regarding Balochi language and literature. We also arrabge literary programs about Baloch intellectuals, writers, poets, journalists, including Azat Jamaldini, Mir Gul Khan Naseer, Ghuhar Malik, Syed Zahoor Shah Hashumi, Ata Shad, Abdul Gafar Nadeem, Haji Abdul Qayyaum, Inayatullah Qumi, Faiz Muhammad Yousafzi, Ghulam Muhammad Shawani, Mir Abdul Aziz Kurd, Mir Yousaf Aziz Magsi, Malik Muhammad Pana, Muhammad Hussain Hunqa, Saba Dashtiari, Nawab Akbar khan Bugti,Ghulam Muhammad Baloch and many others. We also publish special Number of Monthly Balochi zind about them. We also want to arrange National and international Conferences about Balochi language, literature and culture. Also to Promote Balochi music and work for the welfare of the Baloch poet, writers and artists.

You are the honorary council and representative of Turkmenistan in Balochistan. What is your main Aim of your honorary job?

When we first time publish special number regarding Baloch people of Turkmenistan, then I sent a copy to Embassy of Turkmenistan at Islamabad, then Ambassador of Turkmenistan invited us at Islamabad for meeting. When we met Turkmenistan Ambassador at Islamabad, he was happy regarding our literary work about history, culture and traditions of the Baloch people of Turkmenistan. Then our relations increased day by day because more than one hundred Baloch diaspora is living in Turkmenistan. Later the government of Turkmenistan appointed me the honorary council of Turkmenistan at Balochistan. Main aim of this job is to promote the Balochi and Turkmen culture, literature, business, etc. Balochistan is the gateway of Europe and as well as Central Asia. We are trying our best bring both nation close to each other. I translated former president’s book in Balochi language.

Published in The Baloch Hal on June 27, 2013