An “identity crisis” looms before the Baloch people as Pakistan is killing their intellectuals and strategically suppressing their history, says a Baloch freedom activist, adding that they will “not let Pakistan take our cultural identity from us”.
According to prominent Baloch freedom movement activist Mazdak Dilshad Baloch, the lullabies of Baloch mothers “are the only source of history lesson for the new generation” of their people.
“As per Pakistani text books, Balochistan is a barbaric nation and Baloch people are barbarians who fight among themselves. That’s what they (Pakistan) teach their kids, a manipulated history of Balochistan,” Mazdak told IANS.
The issue of manipulated history in text books was also raised in the Pakistan Parliament earlier this year, after the 12th standard sociology books defined Baloch as “uncivilised people who engage in murder and looting”.
“There is total crackdown on journalists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, students. The figure of missing people has crossed 25,000 and about 25 Baloch journalists have been killed. They are killing our intellectuals, educated ones who could take us forward in the future,” said Mazdak, who was in the Indian capital.
He said most of the Baloch leaders and intellectuals are either dead, underground or have fled Pakistan fearing for their life.
Terming the Pakistani media a “puppet” and Pakistan an “artificial nation”, the young activist who was in Delhi to garner support of Indians and Baloch people, said, “Our history is being suppressed and this is part of their strategy. Baloch people are voiceless and Pakistani media can’t help us”.
“They are confining our 700-year-old history to 70 years which is not even ours. Our children are told that Jinnah was our founder, while it was Mir Miro Baloch who founded the kingdom of Balochistan in 1410,” Mazdak said, adding that while Baloch people love education, they resist the Pakistani syllabus.
“They teach us about Ahmed Shah Abdali. He was a great person in history and should be celebrated by Afghans. We have nothing to do with him, Sher Shah Suri, Mahmood Gaznavi or Mughals. You can’t just snatch someone else’s history and make it your own.
“We have our own history, culture and lifestyle. You can see our clothes and carpets — they have the same pattern and geometry as were in Mehergarh (an ancient site in Balochistan). Our historic finger prints are still intact. Our culture and language is never dying and we will not let Pakistan take it from us,” Mazdak said.
He also speaks of Hindu shrines in Balochistan including the famed Hinglaj or Nani Mandir.
“Hindus in Balochistan are not Indian or Pakistani, they are Baloch Hindus. We have been protecting and celebrating the centuries-old legacy. The town of Mastung, where I come from, has a Mahadev temple. We protect and respect them because it’s part of our heritage,” he said.
“All around the world mothers would tell their children a fairy tale. But a Baloch mother while putting her child to sleep tells about how the forefathers got this land, this is how they fought and got martyred. So this is how the children there are brought up. This is how a sense of sovereignty is inherited in their blood,” he explained.
Asked why he opposes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project that allows China to access the Gwadar Port in Balochistan from its western province of Xinjiang, the activist in exile called it “a conspiracy to loot our resources”.
“We are not against economic activities or anything that would uplift the economic condition of the region, but for this they have to talk to Baloch, not the people in Lahore. It is a conspiracy to loot our resources as with this move there is no economic benefit to the Baloch people,” he said.
“Army and government of Pakistan only want our land and our resources.”
Saying that while they want to nurture a free Balochistan as a “democratic”, “secular” and “gender-balanced” nation, Mazdak calls Pakistan an “artificial country”.
“If they (Pakistan) teach correct history then people will ask why it even got separated from India, with which it shares history. Even ethnically and genetically they are same. This shows how ignorant Pakistan is and what kind of artificial country it is,” he said.