Balochistan: apologies won’t do!

“Ever since the national liberation movement in Balochistan abandoned socialism from its programme, it became an easy prey for the imperialist vultures. They can now play with the sentiments of national exploitation and oppression of the people only to utilise them for their own imperialist designs.”

Genuine issues and real problems in society are so numerous, so festering and so rampant that the media barons and their ruling class partners are free to manipulate and abuse them at their discretion. The irony is that the bosses blow up and twist these issues for the interests of the perpetrators of these cruelties. Ultimately the oppressed masses suffering the miseries are subjected to even more brutal exploitation and repression. But these “cases” are highlighted mostly when they become a source of conflict exacerbation between the exploiting adversaries.

The recent Congressional hearing on Balochistan has once again brought into focus the mayhem and the carnage that is pulverising the region. There is a blatant deception being hyped that US imperialism is the greatest crusader of “democracy”, human rights, freedom, national liberation and social justice. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole history of imperialism is a history of brutal colonisation, exploitation, plunder, massacres, subjugation and tyranny. From imperial Rome to the modern day American Raj, every foreign policy has been based on the strategy to serve the interests of the ruling classes whose infinite lust for rates of profit and accumulation of wealth has led to the devastation of nations, famine, wars, death and destruction of millions.

In this predatory pursuit for “more”, it is not just the masses of the colonial lands that have been vandalised but the imperialist powers have never hesitated to sacrifice the people of their own toiling classes on the altar of their greed. There is a British cemetery in Calcutta where the gravestones bear the names of British lads and lasses mostly in their early teens who perished in the spring of their lives to fulfil the imperial ambitions of the English aristocracy. In the last analysis it is a class question that comes out even in the most complex of wars, invasions and conflicts. The ultimate liberation from oppression and deprivation is only possible through the socialist victory of the exploited against the exploiters in this class war to end all wars.

Hence the “concern” of the US Congress is not for the plight of the suffering masses in Balochistan, but for the exorbitant profits of imperialist monopolies it actually represents. The US economy is in a terrible crisis and the American workers and youth are suffering the worst ordeal for almost seven generations, but corporate profits are soaring to unprecedented heights.

The most ironic tragedy of the people of Balochistan is its geology. Huge deposits of gas, bauxite, oil, copper, gold, and other minerals lie underneath the rugged terrain they inhabit. It has plunged the region into the throes of bloodshed and mayhem. The strategic, geographical and maritime location of Balochistan adds to this calamity.

To enhance their plunder, the imperialists have always used every pretext of a socio-political character to muster their strategy of invasion and plunder. Here they are trying to play with the national oppression that the people of Balochistan have been suffering for generations. Ever since the national liberation movement in Balochistan abandoned socialism from its programme, it became an easy prey for the imperialist vultures. They can now play with the sentiments of national exploitation and oppression of the people only to utilise them for their own imperialist designs. That is one aspect of the war that is ravaging the already impoverished and dispossessed masses of Balochistan.

But there are many more adversaries involved in this “game”, with not very different ambitions towards Balochistan. The Chinese elite with its nascent imperialist appetite is aggressively trying to assert its hegemony in the region. Its massive investments in the Gwadar port and other mining and petroleum related exploration projects are for the profits of the Chinese state and private conglomerates competing with western monopolies.

In this complex and ever changing equation of loyalties the Chinese are sponsoring sections of the Pakistan army to fight this proxy war of plundering Baluchistan from their side. After all for more than half a century the Pakistan army has been getting its military hardware supplies from the Chinese. With the capitalist restoration in China, the commissions and kick backs for Pakistan’s military elite and the civilian defence establishment have soared. The politicos are not far behind in this pursuit.

The Saudi, Omani and other reactionary Gulf Sheikhdoms have their own colonial stakes in Balochistan. There is a substantial portion of Balochistan under Iranian control. The Iranian mullah aristocracy has its strategic and economic designs. Apart from the nationalist dimension of these hostilities, there is a proxy war being waged on the basis of religious sectarianism between the Saudi monarchy and Shia clergy in Iran. The Indian bourgeoisie too has its imperialist ambitions.

But it is the oppressed masses of Balochistan that have to face the brunt of these machinations of loot and plunder. With increasing frequency, political activists are being picked up, tortured and killed, their bodies thrown in the vast wilderness of this region. The lists of “missing persons” are piling up fast. The stalwarts of the Pakistani state are in constant denial. Promises of getting them retrieved from the state agencies have proved to be mere deceptions.

The Balochistan “rights package” has heaped insult upon injury. After the passage of this grand parliamentary gesture, the killings of the innocents in Balochistan have increased. There have been several “All-Party Conferences” on Balochistan with no relief for the victims whatsoever. Now another one has been called by the prime minister, mainly in response to the Congressional hearing in Washington.

Another deceitful practise of Pakistan’s ruling politicians has been that of tendering apologies to the people of Balochistan for the atrocities committed by the state. Yet the atrocities get even worse after every apology.

However, it is not only state repression that the toiling masses and the youth of Balochistan have to suffer. Poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of health and other facilities have added to their woes. Large swathes of Balochistan are still stuck in medieval times. Several mass armed struggles against the colonisation of Balochistan since 1948 have not been able to defeat state repression.

The masses of Balochistan have the right of self-determination, including secession from this oppressive state. But to defeat and overthrow this system and its protective state, the national liberation struggle in Balochistan has to be united with the class struggle of the working classes of the whole region, who are also the victims of this exploitative capitalism. The liberation of the oppressed toilers is not possible on the basis of a smaller nation state or within the existing geographical demarcations. A voluntary Socialist Federation of South Asia is the only road to emancipation.

The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at

[This article was originally published in the Pakistani Daily Times]