Pakistan: Mayhem in Baluchistan

The grotesque, remorseless and relentless slaughter of the Shiite Hazaras in Baluchistan is yet another grim episode that lays bare the escalating conflagration in the region, the extreme complexity of the national question and the sectarian strife that is prevalent. This was an act of barbarity that is the outcome of a rotten state and a system that has failed miserably to bring any peace, prosperity or stability to the region. Rather, there is mounting evidence that sections of the state are involved in perpetuating this catastrophe. The Hazaras have been systematically targeted and killed for almost a decade now. None of the perpetrators have been arrested or prosecuted. The complicity of the religious terrorist outfits created by the state to expedite its ever increasing coercion is blatantly clear.

As Pakistani capitalism becomes more and more rotten due to the burgeoning economic and social crisis the state has become more brittle and erratic with its mounting repression and terror. Most of these fanatical outfits were created to execute operations in the interests of sections of the ruling classes and bosses of the state. These non state actors were after all Frankenstein monsters that were formed and fabricated to act in areas which were beyond the writ of the state. These so called illegal monstrosities are carried out by these bigots, who have been recruited, trained and financed by the imperialists, state agencies and regimes like the reactionary Saudi monarchy and who were bred and indoctrinated in religious and sectarian mythology. However, with rapidly changing situations and drastic policy shifts by the imperialists and their henchmen in Pakistan it has become problematic and complicated to keep these rogue elements under control.

Hence, these fanatical organisations have atomised with the elements splitting away becoming even more bestial and frenzied. With the massive amounts of black money generated through the drug trade and other criminal activities this jihad and terrorism have become a very lucrative enterprise. New warlords and drug barons have arisen in this war of attrition started by the imperialists after the Afghan revolution of 1978. Those who split first and foremost attacked the masters that had created them. Not only that, this splintering and these antagonisms also polarised sections of the state who were often confronting each other in the covert operations they carried out where they were using these fanatical organisations in the vested interests of various factions of the civilian and the military elite. These intrinsic conflicts within the state institutions have badly damaged the cohesion and the chain of command of the armed forces.

The other aspect is the mineral wealth and strategic geography of Baluchistan that have become a curse for its inhabitants. International and regional powers have their own imperial designs. Like ravenously hungry vultures they are descending on and tearing apart the body politic of Baluchistan. This has led to imperialist proxy wars where not only the states but the multinational corporations are in conflict to boost their share of the plunder of the region’s resources. On the one hand there is a covert conflict between Chinese vested interests and US imperialism, not only for the resources but also for strategic access to Gwader Port and the Mekran coast. Similarly, there is an increasing clash between the Saudi regime and the Iranian Mullah aristocracy. It is a well known reality that some of those Wahabi and Deobandi organisations, the splinter groups of which are being accused of the incessant genocide of the Shiite Hazaras, were originally created, sponsored and nurtured by the Saudi intelligence agency. The main ploy of the Saudi and the Iranian fundamentalist regimes in this great game is to conduct these proxy wars on a sectarian basis to fabricate external hostility and strive for regional hegemony.

The oppressed people of Baluchistan, especially the Hazaras, are being slaughtered on a religious basis but the Baluch masses have suffered national repression and class exploitation for more than six decades. Baluchistan is geographically the largest and in terms of resources the richest province of Pakistan. Yet its people are suffering from poverty and misery of the greatest order. 92 percent of its districts have been classified as ‘high deprivation’ areas. The main state of pre partition Baluchistan, Kalat, was inducted into Pakistan through palatial intrigue and brute military force. Hence, throughout the history of the country there has been resistance against the national oppression carried out by the Pakistani state.

Baluch youth and political activists have been involved in several armed struggles against the repression of the state. It is the longest lasting insurgency in Pakistan and the resistance has refused to die down. The struggle in the 1970s was brutally crushed by the army with the support of the closest collaborator of US imperialism, the Shah of Iran, who was restored to this peacock throne by imperialism in the 1950s after an illegal putsch against the popular left nationalist leader Mossadeq. More than 5000 Baluch perished in this liberation struggle. In the current conflict more than 8000 Baluch political activists and youth have been abducted by the ‘agencies’ according to the Baluch nationalists. If the Baluch cannot win independence, the military cannot defeat them either.

But the irony of the struggle is that not only does the Pakistani state try to buy off some of the leaders in mainstream politics, but the various imperialist intruders also try to penetrate the resistance and use it for their vested interests. In 1978 one of the legendary leaders of the resistance, Sher Mohammad Marri, told a visiting group of revolutionary students, “We are fighting for an independent socialist Baluchistan. Our aim is to use it to spread revolutionary socialism throughout the region.” This statement sheds some light on the ideological basis and character of the national liberation struggle of the 1970s. Today, the struggle against state oppression is being ripped apart by conflicts on the basis of religious sectarianism and other prejudices. The strategists of the state have to have a plan to aggravate such conflicts to break the resistance.

Imperialists have never been friends of the toiling masses of oppressed nationalities and this is particularly true in the case of Baluchistan. The right of self determination, including secession, is a fundamental right of the oppressed masses of Baluchistan. No one can or should force them to live in a state which the majority of the Baluch masses do not want to be inhabitants of.  But to defeat the capitalist state of oppression the movement needs to unite all those sections that are being exploited and repressed by it. This necessitates the linking of the struggle for national liberation to the class struggle. This will create a formidable force to overthrow this system of class exploitation and national oppression.  Lenin expounded the relationship between the national and the class struggle. He wrote in 1920, “The right of self-determination is, of course, a democratic and not a socialist principle. But genuinely democratic principles are supported and realised in our era only by the revolutionary proletariat; it is for this very reason that they interface with socialist tasks.”