A Federation of Balochistan, India, & Sindhu Desh

By B. R. Gowani

The violent actions of the Muslim militants and the willful inaction of the Pakistani government seem premeditated and designed to let the country get destroyed and disintegrate. The disintegration could also come through a civil war involving many ethnic, political, and religious groups. One may wonder if the leaders of the Pakistani government have reached an understanding with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Agency) that the first livable planet discovered in our galaxy by their spacecraft will be allotted to Pakistan so that it can build a new Pakistan there. (See today’s final posting.)

Humor aside, every passing day is pushing Pakistan further towards abyss. Like the Indian movie character Devdas, Pakistan has set itself on the course of self-destruction for a long while now. The situation in Pakistan is really serious. Can the people of Pakistan fight these religious loonies?

Members of the political parties in Pakistan have always had weapons, but now they may be accumulating more as the country gets further engulfed in uncertainty. Most of its residents, however, do not have weapons and they lack the ruthlessness of the militants. They have to be protected by the government. There is no denying that Pakistan is dying and the only resuscitation that could probably work is the government’s firm and successful counter-action against these loonies. Even if the government decides to clash head on, there is no guarantee that it will be successful because sympathy for the militants has penetrated the military and civilian populations, therefore increasing the hopelessness of the situation.

Adding fuel to the inferno are other factors:
• the return of Zardari’s corrupt behavior,
• his removal of Shahbaz Sharif as Punjab’s governor, and
• the Supreme Court’s barring of his brother Nawaz Sharif from elected office
• the Sharif brothers are equally corrupt and dishonest
• Nawaz Sharif has always been cozy with the Islamists and will have no problem in exploiting the current crisis to his advantage
• Jamat-e-Islami party has expressed its support for the lawyers who are protesting against the Zardari government for not reinstating all the judges who were removed by Musharraf.

Pakistan was created in the name of Islam but religion didn’t prove a bond which could hold the country together. And now that the nation is on the path of shrinking further (East Pakistan seceded to become Bangladesh in 1971); how many more parts will the country break into is anyone’s guess.

CIA Fact Book

(In the Twentieth century, Israel is the only other country that was created in the cause of religion. Incidentally, it is also on the path to self destruction; although in a contrary manner. It is inviting its own destruction through expansion, that is, by grabbing more and more of the Palestinian land, which is in turn inciting an increasing number of Palestinians to be willing to give up their lives. This could become a major problem for the survival of Israel.)

Most Pakistanis do not want to see their country disappear from the world map, or that it gets reduced to the sole province of Punjab. However:
• the forced division of the Pashtun people living in Afghanistan and British India (now NWFP or North West Frontier Province of Pakistan) through the Durand Line in 1893 by the British <1>,
• the continuous unfair and inequitable treatment of Sindh, Baluchistan, and NWFP by the province of Punjab, and
• the creation of Taliban and their growing power

have all created a very ugly situation indeed.

Territorial partitions are frequently accompanied by atrocious violence — particularly when the division is performed as a result of a remnant colonial situation. The creation of Pakistan from India and the end of the British rule in 1947 saw a bloodbath of huge unimaginable proportion, where a million people lost their lives. (The date for independence was initially set for June 1948 but changed to the earlier date of August 1947 with the last Viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten (Queen Elizabeth’s uncle-in-law), presiding over the division.) Mountbatten could have resolved the Kashmir issue but did not do so, and it remains unresolved to this day. The Kashmir problem never permitted the two neighbors to develop any lasting amicable relationship. In 1965, Mountbatten summed up the mess he had created with the words: “I fucked it up.”

What Should Be Done?

These are critical times. The forces within and without are committed to changing Pakistan’s map. To avoid any more tragedies in South Asia, where too many people have suffered for too long, it behooves all to resolve the issue with learned wisdom from the past and to contemplate the solutions with a calm rational approach and not by waving Pakistani flags and screaming patriotic slogans. Since Pakistan’s creation, the latter tactics have only brought it harm. It is more crucial than ever to act prudently now, as this is a matter of survival for Pakistan.

Balochistan and Sindh both have access to the sea and are not landlocked; the former has the newly Chinese-built seaport of Gwadar and the latter has an international seaport. Also, both have an adequate amount of natural and human resources. This gives them the capability to survive as independent countries. But the geo-strategic importance of the area indicates that, from a security point of view, it will be difficult for them to gouge out the evil eye or rather the greedy eyes of the US and the emerging super powers of India and China. (A few years ago, the former US ambassador to Pakistan, Wendy Chamberlin remarked: “We are a player in the Pakistani political system.” And they are not going to give up this role in the near future.)

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One practical solution, if implemented conscientiously, is to form some form of loose federation between India, Sindh and Balochistan. Why India? Because Sindh has a long physical border with India and also they have all been one country in the past. Additionally, they are culturally, linguistically, and politically closer to India. At the very least, Defense and Foreign Affairs should be handled jointly by all three partners.

Before making any such commitment, internally, Sindhi and Muhajir leaders will have to reach a truce first. (Muhajirs or “refugees” are the Urdu speaking people who migrated from India during the Partition. They have many relatives in India. Many Sindhi and Muhajir leaders have always felt friendly and emotional ties with India. The Sindhis within India and outside have felt the same affinity. The Indian opposition leader Lal Krishna Adwani was born in Karachi, Sindh.)

Next, the joint Sindh and Baluchi leaders will need to approach the leaders of Punjab to inform them about their intention to leave the Union. Punjab, in all probability, will not agree to this partition and try to discourage it by any means possible.

Further, it is of prime importance that Sindh and Balochistan not join the federation as one single unit but should instead join as two separate entities in order to minimize future problems. Also, Sindh and Baluchistan are both rich in land mass and should be able to accommodate the refugees from the Taliban on their land, and should provide for that in the Federation plan.

What Should India Do?

India will have to change its patronizing Big Brother attitude towards its neighbors. Nepal and Sri Lanka can attest to the bad experiences at being India’s neighbors. India should also reach an amicable solution to the Kashmir problem by including the participation of the Kashmiri people. India should also address the grievances of the people of Northeast India who have been marginalized and attempt to resolve their issues. India will need to learn to be fair and inclusive with all its partners. It will have to reign in its ego.

Currently, the Indian elite class is really flying high. And the speed with which the Indians in the US are operating and gaining influence in the US, the day is not far that it may overtake the powerful Israeli Lobby. Vijay Prashad points out that the Indian American Task Force (IATF) is imitating the Israeli Lobby and wants to become the “Indian Lobby”. But all that the Israeli Lobby has accomplished is to deny justice to the Palestinian people and turn Middle East into a cauldron. Does the IATF want India to do the same with other South Asian countries which are already hurting with other problems?

If the India-Sindh-Baluchistan federation gets formed and is successful, it will prompt other South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Maldives to join the federation. Who knows, the new Pakistan may decide to join it ultimately.

Of course, India is a powerful country and can ignore these issues; but this it will do at its own peril. Let us reflect on the example of the greatest Super Power. Its arrogance has weakened it economically (out sourced labor) and ruined it financially (failed financial institutions).

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

See the map for the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and the NWFP (North Western Frontier Province).

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