How Well Do We Know Balochistan?

This BBC Urdu video, “Punjab Balochistan ko kitna janta hai?” [How well does Punjab know Balochistan?] reveals the lack of information and knowledge that “mainstream” (here Punjabi) Pakistanis have w.r.t one of the four provinces of Pakistan (which also happens to constitute 40% of the landmass and has the largest mineral reserves in the country).

It seems that an entire province has been erased from the public imagination.

One would think that the issue of Balochistan – what with the decades of insurgency and military action (such as the 1973 uprising in which Balochis were literally bombed into submission), the extrajudicial killing of Nawab Bugti (regardless of his debatable deeds as a tribal chieftain/feudal), the current legal tussles over the Reko Diq mining project, the missing persons cases, the 2010 murder of Habib Jalib of the BNP, etc – would be a familiar one for the average person in Lahore.

This ignorance is the product of our education system, the state’s desire to erase the crisis in the province by wiping away any information about the province, as well as a negligent media which is definitely not in the business of imparting actual information to the public. Not much is reported or said about the province and the crisis there and the masses are fed a belief that any claim emanating from Balochi people is one that is unpatriotic.

This lack of knowledge allows the state/military to push conspiracy theories about Balochi nationalist/resistance movements (such as the BLA or BSO), allows the media to label even the non-militant nationalist movements as “terrorists” or “miscreants”, and allows the legitimate grievances of Balochi people to be subsumed under the umbrella of “anti-Pakistan” actions.

For some recent coverage of the troubles in Balochistan, see:

Madiha Sattar, “Baluchistan: Pakistan’s Other War”

Amnesty International, “Baluchistan Atrocities Continue to Rise”