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Reconciliation is the best path

Nawabzada Changez Khan Marri’s becoming chief minister of Balochistan may portend the beginning of interesting times for Balochistan and Pakistan. His father, Nawab Khair Bakhsh Khan Marri, is a legend in his own lifetime. He is the most important and respected Baloch leader of the contemporary era. Today, he is in his declining years but remains the living symbol of Baloch resistance to the tyranny, repression and exploitation that the Baloch people have endured since the creation of Pakistan. Every effort by the establishment to demonise him in the eyes of his own people has abjectly failed.
Changez Khan Marri is unlikely to be congratulated by his father if he is appointed chief minister. But, as he has rightly observed, time move on and reconciliation is now the best path to restoring the stolen dignity and human, economic and political rights of the Baloch. For this to be possible, it will be essential to immediately end the shameful atrocities that are secretly inflicted on the politically active nationalist Baloch youth. The first casualty in such dirty campaigns is the truth.
If the new prime minister and his chief minister in Balochistan are not able to rise to the challenge of ending this unspeakable tragedy – and indeed other tragedies around the country – no stability or development will ever be possible in Pakistan.
While the Baloch have displayed the tenacity and courage of the Kurds, they should not continue to condemn themselves to the sorrows and tribulations that the valiant Kurds had to suffer. The Kurds are today discovering their rights and their dignity through what I call the P2R policy – political resistance and reconciliation. The Baloch should seek to emulate the Kurds in this respect.
But, as the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap. And today the other hand is the hand of repression, misrepresentation and exploitation. The nature of this hand has to change to a real and reliable hand of partnership, understanding and respect. Only then can the clap of reconciliation in Balochistan and elsewhere begin to be heard around the country.
The Baloch insurgency is completely different from the Taliban insurgency. One is a defence of identity, dignity and rights and the other is an attempt to forcibly impose a doctrine and ideology on a people who have been Muslim for more than a millennium. One is resistance to ‘zulm’ (atrocity) and the other is ‘fitna’ (discord).
Changez Khan Marri can provide a bridge of understanding and reconciliation at more than one level. As the eldest son of a Baloch legend he will have credibility among the Baloch – at least for some time. Hopefully, his father will not denounce his acceptance of the responsibilities of becoming CM under a prime minister who at least says his heart breaks for the sufferings of the Baloch people and that bringing an end to them will be among his topmost national priorities.
At the provincial level, the most unfortunate divide that has emerged in recent decades between the Pakhtun and the Baloch needs to be effectively overcome. The Pakhtun of Balochistan have their own just grievances. The rest of the country, including senior officials and prominent members of civil society, know next to nothing about the Pakhtun of Balochistan. They would be hard put to name three of their main tribes.
Changez’s mother is a local Pakhtun, from a nationally respected family that contributed to the Pakistan Movement. As such, Changez is well positioned to strengthen harmony and minimise discord between the two main communities of Balochistan. He must similarly ensure the security, dignity and rights of all those Pakistanis who have chosen to make Balochistan their home, and to serve it as such.
The resident ‘non-locals’ have been prime victims of the surreptitious war against the Baloch nationalists who have reacted with extremism and terror of their own. To reiterate, the incoming prime minister has no alternative but to personally supervise the reconciliation process, which cannot be pursued through gimmickry and gestures as happened during the past five years.
There is another positive political development in the politics of Balochistan. That is the emergence of Mahmood Khan Achakzai, the head of the Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), as the most prominent political figure in Balochistan. He is also the son of a legend, the late Abdul Samad Khan Achakzai, who was the long time lieutenant of Bacha Khan (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan), and spent many, many years in British and Pakistani prisons for his resistance to the British and his struggle for the rights of the Pakhtun.
Moreover, Mahmood Khan has represented the national aspirations of the Pakhtun far more effectively than the ANP which has, by and large, insulted the legacy of Bacha Khan and his son, Abdul Wali Khan.
Changez Marri and Mahmood Khan can now provide an ideal partnership at the provincial level, and hopefully, Changez Marri and Nawaz Sharif can do the same at the national level to lift Balochistan out of the morass into which it has been plunged over the past six decades by the same power structures that were responsible for the break-up of Pakistan in 1971, and for the failure to develop any real sense of Pakistani national unity since that unforgiveable tragedy.
Unfortunately, the next prime minister’s political power base, Punjab, does not have a good record – in the eyes of the smaller provinces – of being politically sensitive to their rights and sensitivities. This perception, however, is due to the fact that the agricultural, industrial, service, religious and media elites of Punjab have had a stranglehold over its politics. They have developed a self-serving ‘national ideology’ that excludes the interests of their own masses, as well as the rights of the other provinces. This has to change.
Pakistan no longer has time for incremental change within the parameters of a status quo dominated by the existing political and economic power structures. The Pakhtun and the Baloch must be enabled to know that their struggle for their human, political and economic rights is part of a similar national struggle of all the exploited and deprived peoples of Pakistan.
Similarly, the majority of the people of Pakistan must be encouraged to look upon this struggle of the Baloch and Pakhtun people as part of their own struggle for their dignity and fundamental rights. This is easy to accept intellectually. The problem is that the national leadership and the national elite have not been inclined to do much about it. This too has to change. Otherwise, the inevitable will happen.
Noam Chomsky has observed that all political and human rights are won through sustained and mostly unrecorded struggle the heroes of which are many and unknown. No rights, according to him, are ever voluntarily bestowed upon a people by the elite classes. Self-styled ‘liberals’ who suggest otherwise are profoundly ignorant of political and social processes.
If Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Changez Marri, Mahmood Achakzai and an emerging new PPP leadership can find it in themselves to become a genuine and recognised part of a national people’s movement for genuine national transformation, the country’s future will brighten immeasurably. If not, they will sooner or later render themselves politically irrelevant. To be fair to Imran Khan, he has much less to prove than the others. But Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and, maybe, Changez Khan Marri will have the opportunity to prove their mettle over the coming months.
The writer is a former envoy to the US and India.Email: ashrafjqazi@yahoo.com

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, "Reconciliation is the best path," The News. 2013-05-25.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Human rights , Political rights , Leadership , Reconciliation , Economy , Nawaz Sharif , Imran Khan , Changez Marri , Mahmood Achakzai , Balochistan , PPP