Cultural Action and Baloch Nationalist Movement

Barkat Shah Kakar

The emerging separatist sentiments and its reflection in the Baloch belt of Balochsitan is now very much evident. Though General Musharaf symbolized this crisis as the rebellion of three tribal leaders, but the objective reality is quite different as displayed and perceived in the state's domains both today and yesterday.

The second version of identifying this movement is within the context of conspiracy theory and cross boarder money and man infiltration. The deprivation, under-development and cumulative 4-military insurgencies in the period of 60 years of Pakistan itself gathers a weight for thinking beyond the available options. During the colonial era, most of the Baloch tribes have made their peace accords even with East India Company and then with the British crown after the war of 1857. They were more inclined towards the policy of appeasement as compare to their immediate south-eastern Pashtoon neighbors.

Like other traditions of this part of the world, Baloch tradition has also created its safety nets and mechanisms of peace ecology in which the different and marginalized factions of society are always respected, and rated equal to the ordinary persons of the Baloch society. Especially the traditional accord of peaceful co-existence with religious and social minorities is very exemplary. In the oral tradition of Baloch every person is literate of its social realities and know the inherent ethical values of pluralism and harmonious co-existence. Like the great Pashto Poet of twentieth century Abdul Ghani Khan has in his book the Pathans has explained this phenomenon while portraying the image of Pathan, “In your country(Britian) you know your laws when you are either a judge or criminal but the Pathan knows about his laws before he learns how to eat” the Baloch are no exception. Selig S Harrison in his outstanding account “In Afghanistan's shadow: Baloch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations” caters several interesting case studies in this regards.

Analysis of the leading resistance movement as response to the state's insurgency in Balochsitan one can see a conflict between the ideals and morality of Baloch tradition and violence based activism for freedom and autonomy. For the nations living one the northern hemispheres, while subjugating, destroying and killing millions of people and societies it is easy to say that “all is fair in love and wars” but the traditional societies stemmed in the values of humanism and love for diversity posses its own meanings, ethics and morality of wars and peace. Culture and traditions are like organic bodies and it has the wisdom and inherent energy to regenerate its mechanisms with the changing world and its challenges.

The journey towards getting the goals of freedom cannot be linear, it is back and forth process, required creative energy and Patience. There will be several internal and external factors that can distort even the meaning and essence of the over all journey if are not dealt consciously. Paulo Freire the reckoned Brazilian educationists of 20th century has remarkably unpacked this phenomenon in his accounts “Politics of Education” and “Pedagogy of the oppressed”. In these accounts he has illustrated the phenomenon that, how oppressed prolong the life and subjugation of their oppressors while internalizing them and making them as part of his/her consciousness. In his words, “When the dominated classes reproduce the dominator's “style of life” ,it is because the dominator live “within” the dominated. The dominated can eject the dominator only by getting distance from them and objectifying them. Only then can they recognize them as their antithesis. (Paulo Freire Cultural Action for Freedom P-35).

In this connection, it is imperative to understand that, what are the moral foundations of experiencing violence as tool for freedom and autonomy. Does arbitrary violence guarantee the achievements of goals for complete self determination or reproduces the culture of terror and fear which is being prevailed and taken as shield by the dominator. To the extent, however, that internalization of the dominator’s values is not only an individual phenomenon, but a social and cultural one. Ejection must be achieved by a type of cultural action in which culture negates culture. That is, culture, as an internalized product which in turn conditions men's subsequent acts, must become the objects of men's knowledge so that they can perceive its conditioning power. Cultural action occurs at the level of basic perceptions and imagination also called superstructures.

There is great potential in the traditions to mold societies towards getting its civil and human rights, but the cultural action for the transformation of traditions that is its purification from inherent pathological practices is also inevitable. The value and knowledge systems of tradition posses immense creative energy which can be instrumental for reshaping our lives while living and sensing the beauty of diversity, harmony and peaceful co-existence.