16 September 2014

Self-Inflicted Idiocy: Rebuttal to a Blog about Balochistan

Courtesy: Laaltain Magazine 


This is a rebuttal to “Balochistan: Self-inflicted misery?” published in Express Tribune blogs on 12th September 2014. The aforementioned blog is one of the most baseless and misleading articles ever written about Balochistan and therefore I feel compelled to write a rebuttal to set the record straight. I can’t fathom how the said blog passed through the editorial checks before being published. The author of the Article “Israa Shah” has visited Quetta and Ziarat and based on her experiences of a few picnics, she has manufactured an utterly flawed and ludicrous argument.

Author’s relation to Balochistan is limited to sightseeing visits only therefore the erroneous blog she has written hardly corresponds to ground realities. The obvious reason behind the fallacies is the author’s ignorance about Balochistan, its history, culture and the people. The author even does not know the difference between Baloch and Balochi. The people of Punjab are called Punjabi but the people of Balochistan are called Baloch not Balochi, latter is the language that the Baloch speak.

The author while proving her point has called Hazaras, settlers. That’s again not true as Hazaras are considered natives of Quetta and not settlers. Another mistake that author makes is her inability to distinguish the Baloch separatists from the sectarian militants. She gives an impression that Hazara Shias in Balochistan are also being killed by Baloch militants which is wildly untrue and unjust.

Moreover, according to the author the people of Gilgit–Baltistan demand separation from Pakistan. I do not know which Gilgit–Baltistan she is talking about because there has never been any such demand from the Gilgit–Baltistan that is located in the North of Pakistan. All the highlighted and corrected mistakes show that Author is clueless about Balochistan and she is trying to make a flawed argument based on preconceived misconceptions.

Likewise, the author quotes Nasrullah Baloch, the chairperson of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) about the number of Baloch missing persons. She does that to prove a point that just because there is a huge discrepancy in the number of missing persons as claimed by government and VBMP, therefore media can’t be trusted when it reports about Balochistan. As usual there is no basis to this argument of the author as well. More importantly apparently she does not understand that the staggering number of Baloch missing persons highlight the plight of Baloch people, not of settlers.

Then come two sweeping statements which constitute the main argument of the blog. The author writes:

Contrary to popular belief, the people bearing the brunt of this unrest are mostly the “settlers”.

Notwithstanding the fact that many settlers have been killed unjustifiably in past, which is strongly condemnable but calling settlers bigger victims of the Balochistan conflict as compared to natives is a misstatement of a mythical proportion. The natives are bearing the brunt of this conflict for last 6 decades.

While in continuation of spilling pearls of wisdom, the author gives another sweeping statement:

In my opinion, what is happening in Balochistan is an example of extremism that is covered as Baloch nationalism.

The author gives the impression that all the violence taking place in Balochistan including the sectarian violence is due to Baloch nationalism. This observation can be termed as a work of pure fiction with no basis in reality. In fact, religious extremism is being used to counter Baloch nationalism, according to sources.

The blog being rebutted is a typical example of ignorance about Balochistan prevalent in the popular discourse. Every now and then, a writer who has visited Balochistan for some recreational activity writes such baseless articles. The editors of national newspapers publish them because, with few notable exceptions, they themselves are oblivious to the ground realties in Balochistan. Journalism in Balochistan is an extremely difficult job due to threats faced by journalists from security establishment and other warring groups in Balochistan. Therefore, the truth hardly surfaces in national narrative of Pakistan. This lack of knowledge about Balochistan makes people write baseless things which only exist in the galloping imagination of writers such as Israa Shah.

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