Disunity among Baloch leadership is a great impediment on the way to success
An exclusive interview with Sher Alam Marri, Baloch Nationalist Political thinker, based in St. Petsburg, Russia.
Interviewed by Shehzad Baloch
(Blv stands for Bolan Voice and SAM for Sher Alam Marri)
Blv: Please tell us briefly about your biography for the readers of Bolan Voice Magazine.
SAM: My complete name is Sher Alam Marri. I said fare-well to Balochistan in 1982 accompanied by Babu Shero Marri a renowned Baloch guerrilla fighter. For a period of time, I remained in London and then went to Afghanistan where Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero were also present. At that time, I was staying in Kabul and studying at the poly-technique Institute. Subsequently, I migrated to the Soviet Union of that time, the presently Russia. Since then, I have been living here in Russia. In early days of my residence here in Russia, I learnt the Russian language and afterward I got a degree in Civil Aviation Engineering. Once or twice, I have been to Balochistan but the situations was averse to us, consequently I returned to Russia in the era of Musharraf after being detained and subsequently released. I opposed my fellow Baloch politicians for taking in the Pakistani parliamentarian process with a clear stance that I only seek the resolve of Baloch malady in an independent Balochistan.
Blv: Please elaborate on differences that existed between Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero that led them to part their ways?
SAM: Both leaders have departed and they are not present among us. Khair Bukhsh Marri was our leader but not a tribal chieftain (Sardar) because he never levied taxes on his nation and only guided them in political and tribal mechanisms, so he can be identified as a nationalist leader better than a Sardar. At that time, there were diversions in world politics and political thoughts which triggered some differences between them, but it would have been more appropriate to ask this question from one of them rather than me or someone else. I cannot give anyone a grade of good or bad, we traditionally don’t slate any demised personality. I witnessed that neither Babu raised the voice of Bijrani and Gazaini nor the nationalist leader Khair Bukhsh Marri, but some opportunists conspired to emanate such misperception and they were rejected. At that time, world politics was knotted with Soviet Union which got disintegrated and caused minor disapprovals between fractions including political thinkers. I believe the politics related to Soviet Union was reason of strife. The disintegration of socialist bloc resulted in the fall of Dr Najeeb’s government in Afghanistan and this ensued the return of Baloch people from Afghanistan to Balochistan, and during this some displeasures penetrated in the folds of nationalists which were not unprecedented that could not be mended. I think in present settings this issue should not be exaggerated. It is endorsed that both leaders sagaciously didn’t say anything about Gazaini or Bijarani and foiled treacherous attempts by state elements to loggerhead brethren.
Blv: Did Babu Shero voice up for an independent Balochistan or he only had a stance on autonomy?
SAM: Look! At that time that Baloch people could not make a demand directly for freedom. Our people were not edified to meet the level of freedom, hence we were struggling with one step below, but educated a cadre like Wahid Qambar, Abdul Nabi Bangulzai and others were mindful about destination which was and is freedom. At that time, Nationalist leader Khair Bukhsh Marri and Babu Shero agitated the people about autonomy but now people have known, so today’s demand is vibrant which is ‘freedom’. At that time, situations were totally different than those today and fighting was confined only in the Marri area, Mekuran including other parts of Balochistan were not affected, but today the entire Baloch nation in every nook and corner of Balochistan is concerned about the freedom struggle. In 1973, the organization BSO (Baloch Student Organization) was premature and a small number of students came to Russia for studies. Student organization was single and it was haunted in the eyes of agencies, and they were adamant to vanish it away and following it was divided into groups and got enfeebled. They were alert that Baloch nation is getting prepared for freedom and must be congested in the early stage. Both sides of the party were engaged in preparations; we were working to systemize and strengthened the movement, and in parallel, state was preparing to eliminate it. In the long run, our aim was freedom and it still is, only variance is that at that time majority of the people were not cognizant about independence but today they are firm to gain this.
Blv: Please inform us about the present position of Baloch movement, whether it is systemized, equipped with modern tools, members are educated and so on?
SAM: Yes, modernization is there, but it will be impropriate to say that only the Baloch movement is energetic but opponent is defenseless. Today, the rival has found more diversity to counter the movement and is mercilessly killing innocent and noncombatant Balochs, no matter what walk of life they belong to. The Baloch nation is not part of this country and it is being run by Punjabis who have no sympathies for our occupied nation. Present Baloch movement is much powerful than previous ones which is conspicuous to all including myself. Here, I feel that in previous movements leadership was much competent and spirited, if the present movement is led the way it was done in the past, the conditions would have been different in Balochistan today. In the past movement, discipline and leadership was rigid but today it lacks this and internal differences between groups exist overwhelmingly, which is saddening. Yes, Baloch nation is paying very lofty sacrifices and I don’t see any example of this in Baloch history. The leadership of Baloch movement is unable to grasp and value the hefty sacrifices by Baloch and here I feel dimness in leadership, only.
Blv: There are some accepted standards the in world, based on which each ethnicity does not have its own country; for example, in Russia, where you are currently residing, consists of various ethnic groups but is a successful country, so why do the Balochs need a separate state?
SAM: Look! Russia has given due status to Chechen which is a Muslim part of this country, where education rate is high and has been granted all facilities of life including control on its resources and production. Tataristan, which is a Muslim republic of Russian Federation, has its own president and enjoy full autonomy. These states’ comparison with our land Balochistan is totally inappropriate. Baloch region is being dominated by Punjab and the same ethnic group is controlling all the country but has denied all rights of the Baloch nation. Gas was discovered in 1951 in Balochistan and has been supplied to Quetta, the capital of this province, since the 80s. But in Tartaristan, when gas was discovered, the income generated from this national resource together with its control was given to Tartarians. Similarly, petrol was explored and developed in Chechen and the same state is enjoying income of this natural resource. Balochistan is occupied and Baloch has no authority in its province. Musharraf was attacked in Islamabad so we did not witness any operation there but when he was attacked in Kohlu so this area received prompt backlash by the state forces. A rocket was fired on Mr Musharraf but the entire Marri areas was bombarded ruthlessly, because Pakistani establishment does not consider Baloch as their citizens and treat them like slaves and have no mercy on them, no matter whether they live or die. In Lahore, a bomb explodes but we see no operation there, but in Quetta when such incident occurs, as result in entire Sariab, which is a predominantly a Baloch area, operations are conducted. Double standard is visible to all.
In Chamalang area, coal is extracted but cold areas of Balochistan are deprived of this for the purposes of heat and fire fuel and nonsensically it is supplied to far away cities in Punjab for factories and other intents. Islamabad makes all policies about Balochistan and the chief minister of the province, Dr Malik Baloch, has no authority and he acts based on the instructions given to him by the establishment. In a nutshell, Balochistan is occupied and its resources are being plundered by the occupier.
The history of Pakistan tells us that the Baloch will never be given rights like you said about Russian republics. Baloch needs a national state for its national heritage, identification and a better future whilst in remaining in Pakistan the Baloch renaissance is impossible.
Blv: Ground realities show that the state of Pakistan is powerful; it has a strong army with nuclear technology, and international powers like China, US and oil rich Arab States also are succoring it for the sake of their interests. Contrary to this, Baloch is powerless and internationally it has inadequate support to combat, so why not compromise on minimal gains than independence?
SAM: The history of Pakistan entails that the Baloch should be killed, whether or not they combat. If Baloch demands their rights so they are killed, otherwise by indigence they are dwindling. In such conditions, why not they adopt the way to national honor. Soviet Union was also a nuclear power and I witnessed its economical dilapidate which resulted in its breakdown into 14 pieces. The Soviet was stronger than Pakistan in all aspects. We Baloch are flawed but the state of Pakistan is racket of tribulations. Now, it is working on an economic corridor with the collaboration of China and sold-out Gwadar to this country which is expanding its presence. I am sure that the Baloch will foil all plans of the occupant to withstand on the price of Baloch land and resources. Today, Baloch land has been set on fire but the state is also enduring ramifications. Baloch guerrilla style war has inflected excessive financial deficits on the state. The state is surrounded in internal and external strife in shape of religious extremism, failed foreign policy and so on. Only China is assisting it in pursuance of interests to attain minerals of Balochistan and avail Pakistani markets for vending its products, otherwise I do not see any sincerity in their interactions. A state keeps atomic bombs in the fridge instead of foodstuff, this citing counterparts with Pakistan a country facing energy crises, load-shedding, food shortage, no provision of hygienic drinking water, health facilities and so on. Such a state has a dark future but the Baloch land is rich with its natural resources and it also has a splendid history, forever it has been a sovereign state, so in these perspectives why should we rely only on minimal demands rather than independence.
Blv: You do not consider tribalism and disparity based social classes for backwardness of Baloch and without the ejection of these how will a nation get affiliated with political movement?
SAM: You and I cannot discard tribalism from the life of Baloch but its cycle of evolution is diminishing it serenely. In the early times, we could not know the events that were happening in sparse areas of Balochistan but today a tiny progress through social media and Facebook get ubiquitous. Today, if something happens in Kohlu so it gets known widely in matter of minutes by Mekuran’s peoples through social media, mobile phone and other ways. The mentioned inventions and cycle of evolution is having an effect on tribalism, inexorably.
Khair Bukhsh Marri’s struggle and his role is an exact example regarding social change in the Baloch society. He relinquished tribal status but worked as a leader for the entire Baloch nation instead of serving only the Marri tribe. He performed an exceptional role among the Baloch Sardars. With the passage of time, modifications will be brought in the society and the movement, of course this will be put on systemized and rational basis. Today, Dr Allah Nazar and Wahid Qambar are the role models who are not sons of any tribal chieftain or high class person but are leading the movement. Some Sardars or tribal elements, who have some high positions in the movement is because of sacrifices not for other means. I consider all Balochs rightful who paid sacrifices and are struggling; only belonging to a higher class or being a Sardar is not enough for being a leader.
Blv: Do you have any formula that can allow all the Baloch separatist groups to work under a single command and control?
SAM: I have always worked and currently working to formulate a single platform for the Baloch, otherwise our sweats will not bring any fruits. At all costs, we have to form a combined platform. I deeply desire Baloch unity but this requires collective exertions by the youth, senior politicians, student organizations and others. Baloch intellectual ought to write about unity, Baloch teacher should teach about unanimity, only then we will be able to constitute an alliance or a single party for guidance. We Balochs have to eliminate zai (sub-tribes) and other regional identifications for the sake of collective national identification and a national state. I do not have a swift impacting or a magical tool to use it on the Baloch so that it give up the division of zai and likewise egos. You journalists, Baloch intellectuals and leaders should teach, educate and write on this topic untiringly, then I think its implementation will be possible. It is a fact that differences have existed for a very long but now social media and other modern apparatuses have highlighted or uncovered these more. I personally toiled to settle these discussed dissensions and I am aware that Dr Allah Nazar also strived for correction of these issues too. We desire to bring all political personalities and groups on a single platform and agenda the overall interest of the Baloch nation.
Blv: Presently, which secessionist group do you think is considered to be systemized, ideologically mature, principled and politically aware?
SAM: I salute Sarmachars (Baloch Fighters) who are fighting for the independence of the Baloch motherland whether they belong to Kohlu, Mekuran, Bolan, Dera Bugti or any other part of Balochistan. With regards to leadership, I cannot comment on this. Those who embraced martyrdom in the way of freedom, I present red salute to them and I have great respect for the Baloch martyrs and their bereaved families. I do not distinguish Baloch pro-independence organizations that are struggling in multiple ways but pay respects to their efforts.
Blv: What are your views about Brahamdagh Bugti’s interview which he had with the BBC Urdu service and broadcasted a few days ago?
SAM: Unfortunately, we criticize a lot. Brahamdagh’s interview should be listened to profoundly, he never spoke about submission before Pakistan but he said if his nation says for coming back to Balochistan, so he actually follows the nation’s wants, because he is leading a section in the Baloch nation and a leader is obliged to care for the demand and desire of followers. He said that if the Baloch nation asks for a withdrawal from independence standpoint, then he would respect the mandate of the nation. And his words mean that the Baloch people who are struggling in political way or fighting in mountains for independence but he never counted like Dr Malik and Sarfraz Bugti as Baloch in his interview. I think Brahamdagh’s words are being misinterpreted by state elements or someone could not derive its true meaning. The other point is that this person is living as a migrant in a country and cannot say blatantly that he is operating an organization which is waging a war against a state. Dr Allah Nazar can explicitly speak for freedom because he is somewhere in the mountains of Balochistan but I think a person staying in Switzerland, Sweden or another country cannot do so openly. I think Brahamdagh’s words were only a political realignment and nothing else.
Blv: In the previous days, there was a news story appeared in the Pakistani media about the laying down of weapons by Baloch insurgents and the state authorities claim that estranged Balochs are swearing for allegiance to the state. How do you weigh these news segments and statements?
SAM: The mentioned authorities should be asked where were these people before capitulation? If they are talking about Haji Kalati and stating him the member of UBA, so he had moved to Punjab long ago and was not member of the organization but was expelled. Some people got sidelined because of inner grievances between UBA and BLA and were either not prominent or high rank commanders and those were of Marri tribe, only. Ideological workers are struggling and they will continue until achievement of their objective. This is only a media-show and is being performed by the so called Nawab (dukes) and Sardars (chieftains) to gain some incentives and state positions, hence in this competition they conduct fake submission rounds which are exaggerated by the state controlled and partial media. Irrationally, the media show mercenaries were laying down outdated guns which were never used by those who fight for freedom. I believe Baloch is a valiant nation and they will never put their weapons on the ground. If someone sidelines due to strong differences so he silently parts his way but not comes in front of media and surrender before forces. This claim is totally ridiculous and incredible.
Blv: Currently, the fifth Baloch insurgency is prolonging for more than a decade, so where do you see its position and achievements?
SAM: In the previous movements, Baloch were not educated enough and we did not have any approach on international level, but today Mehran Baloch is representing the nation at United Nation’s forum, as result of which it is being supported internationally. Today if a Baloch is residing in any country like the US, the UK or Norway so that can get nationality of mentioned country as being a member of a stateless nation. This is a fact that our internal dissensions are disturbing us to deal smoothly with international world. Influential states in world politics, like American senators and politicians are well aware of Baloch issue, similarly the Russians and other countries also value Baloch stance. Though the discussed states’ interest are linked with the state of Pakistan but we are representing Baloch nation internationally, even this issue is progressing slowly but it is elevating gradually. We are voicing up against human rights violation in Balochistan and facing opposition by the state of Pakistan that sends letters to the international community and disproportionately declare Baloch leaders as terrorist but it is fails to misinform them.
Blv: It was observed that a small number of people gather to protest on international level in various countries such as Switzerland, Germany, the UK, the US and so on, I think every group has built its own two bricks church.
SAM: You are right, this is a misfortune of Baloch nation and currently we are not united and Baloch dynamic is divided in Balochistan and in diaspora too which requires melioration. I already told you that we are striving to converge the energies of Baloch and I am optimist that soon the nation will know of a good news about this. Baloch youth should not be disappointed, history tells us that such things happens in movements like this. Before the socialist revolution in Russia which was led by Linen, there were disagreements between the Bolshevik and Menshevik but at the end the true one raised.
Blv: A mindset among some people exists which believes that a leader sits very far from the motherland in Europe or somewhere else cannot be revolutionary or a true leader. Do you agree with this argument?
SAM: I think all cannot be in a single place. Dr Allah Nazar is in Balochistan and he is working in very good way but it is a requirement in the current time that the movement is to be represented internationally and worked on abroad as well. The opponent also wants that the skilled and qualified people of the Baloch nation come to Balochistan so they can be targeted. Presently, the people who are living abroad are a need of time and the movement but when time comes these are required in Balochistan and called by Baloch so they will come back.
Blv: Some people believe that without separation or national state of Baloch and within the Pakistani state, Balochistan’s people can be served and develop, do your thoughts coincide with this at all?
SAM: No, never! The state of Pakistan only loves minerals and resources of Balochistan not the Baloch people and the state is needful of these. Baloch never can develop or get prospered while they remain as part of Pakistan. This phenomenon is totally wrong and not possible that the state of Pakistan would the Baloch people to develop. State is plundering resources of Balochistan and shifting it to Punjab and Islamabad, and even sell them to other countries, in return get money and wealth for the sustenance of Punjab. If the region of Balochistan did not possess the minerals and resources, Pakistan would have let it separate without waiting for a single day. It is surviving on discussed resources and the Baloch people who are the genuine owner of these are starving. The state will never give a tiny thing to the Baloch people, if it does so then how would they nourish the huge population of Punjab. It is misperception that the Baloch people, without its national state can, get developed or be prosperous. I am not claiming for this but the 67-year history of this country is immaculate in saying this. Gwadar project means to misbalance the demography of Balochistan and convert Baloch into a minority, even get them dislodged from their native areas and presently forces are implementing this scheme on ground in the areas of Mekuran where they have forced people to evacuate from their historical abodes which fall around the Economic Corridor Road. I cannot see any development in Balochistan and its capital Quetta compared to Punjab’s cities and Islamabad.
Blv: The present Baloch movement has lasted for more than decade and how much has this benefited the nation and how it will take to touch the destination, is there any time frame?
SAM: No specified time and scale of sacrifices can be given by anyone. It is dependent on conscious level of the nation and related situations.
Blv: The state was trapped in various complexities but Baloch movement could not make any achievement and avail the time but by now it has retrieved and is pushing down to insurgency movement. Is it not so?
SAM: It takes a long time and during the current movement the Balochs have learnt a lot in the field of politics and warfare too. By now, Baloch in all sphere of life whether they are student, politician, workers and others are consciousness, and the nation has paid hefty sacrifices for reaching this level. The experiences will guide the movement forward and it may face little loss against a lot of gain. It is true that the state has retrieved but Baloch have also learnt a lot. Movement has a long journey ahead as yet.
Blv: At last if you have a message to the nation through our magazine.
SAM: Baloch should focus on only national freedom and continue to struggle. Furthermore, they should transfer this ideology to their children. They must realize that these helpless chief minister or MPAs can never deliver anything to the nation but they only achieve individual interests and prolong the age of national slavery, hence they must be ignored. I urge every individual of the Baloch nation to seek national independence on their level and also transform this through to their broods for its gain. Baloch should keep up the current struggle until they get emancipation.