No time for outrage
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Sunday, March 03, 2013
COMMENT: No time for outrage —Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur
The apathy of people in general is the main reason that the tyrannical and despotic regimes get away with their brutalities and atrocities against people
Stephane Hessel, the author of the best selling 40-page manifesto Time for outrage died aged 95 recently. The former French resistance fighter’s writings stirred many into challenging the unbridled capitalism and other injustices. Time for outrage exhorts that injustices should be resisted. To make a difference people have to be persistently outraged against all injustices and consistently oppose them to make any impact. Like Che Guevara, he exhorted outrage against injustices. Che had to wage guerrilla war because Latin American ruling juntas tolerated neither outrage nor dissent.
Bonds created by common feelings of outrage and indignation are extremely powerful as Che’s reply to a Casablanca lady with Guevara family name who wrote inquiring his Spanish family’s origins for possible common ancestor shows. He wrote, “I don’t think you and I are very closely related, but if you are capable of trembling with indignation each time an injustice is committed in the world, we are comrades, and that is more important.”
In Pakistan, injustices are aplenty and extremely vicious, this being the norm since 1947. Had the people expressed outrage and consistently opposed them at the outset, today’s pathetic situation may have been thwarted. Unfortunately, people here have no time for outrage. Insensitivity to others’ plight is so pervasively entrenched that even horrifying excesses fail to jolt consciences. In September 1947, Dr Khan Sahib’s government was summarily dismissed in the NWFP by Mohammad Ali Jinnah simply because he did not attend the oath-taking ceremony of Pakistan. Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan then conjured up a Muslim League government to replace it. No one expressed outrage and this laid ground for future injustices.
When on March 21,1948, Jinnah addressing a crowd of over 300,000 in Dacca, disregarding the languages and culture of people and land bequeathed by the British Empire to Pakistan, said, “Let me make it very clear to you that the state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language” only the Bengalis protested. They persisted for recognition of their language and on February 21, 1952, many agitating Bengali students were killed in Dacca. Unfortunately, others did not agitate, and consequently, their languages have languished due to dominance of Urdu. This and other injustices sowed seeds of December 1971Bangladesh formation. More unfortunately, the lamentations, if any, of 1971 events have been for the loss of real estate while the killings, atrocities and rapes of Bengali people by Pakistani forces have remained a secondary concern.
On April 28, 1948, Mohammad Ayub Khuhro’s government in Sindh was dismissed because he opposed muhajirs’ resettlement only in Sindh while other provinces were not accommodating them. Again, no one seemed to realise the consequences and Sindhis have since been marginalised. Injustices in Sindh were perpetrated in varied ways; of the 2.4 million acres barrages’ irrigated land, 55% i.e. 1.32 million acres went to non-Sindhis. When outrage and subsequent resistance are missing, injustices become the norm.
On August 11, 1947, the Kalat State became independent but independence of the resource-rich, strategically important land that Balochistan is could not be stomached by the Pakistani ruling elite and they set about to deprive the Baloch of their freedom. Intrigues against the Baloch continued but when coaxing and scheming came to naught the army moved in on March 27, 1948 and deprived them of their freedom. Others remained disinterested spectators while the Baloch people’s rights were trampled upon and the Baloch alone resisted. But this was just the beginning as more of the same was to follow. The rulers found the common religion excuse the handiest one to neutralise dissent, and therefore, promoted religion; people still suffer consequences of that policy as most violence today is perpetrated in the name of religion. The Objectives Resolution of March 12, 1949 ensured the official use of religion to suppress dissent. The Baloch had to submit because the ‘glory’ of Islam was at stake.
To deprive the Bengalis of their majority rights and rightful say in affairs, the One Unit policy was, ironically, announced by the Bengali Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra on November 22, 1954, and promulgated on October 14, 1955. Those who dissented were conveniently branded traitors and incarcerated. Baloch, Sindhis and Pashtuns were lumped under the West Pakistani designation. This was the preliminary groundwork for further injustices. Martial law was imposed on October 7, 1958, which the Baloch resisted and paid with their lives; seven sons and friends of Nawab Nauroz Khan were hanged on July 15, 1960.
Injustices tend to bring more injustices in their wake as not all acquiesce; dissenters are made to pay dearly. The Baloch resistance continued under Sher Mohammad Marri’s leadership until One Unit was dissolved in 1970, after Ayub Khan handed over powers to another army chief, General Yahya Khan. In 1971, army launched a war against Bengali people with connivance of politicians here. There was very little outrage at atrocities in Bengal but fortunately, Bengalis won.
The 1970 elections saw the Baloch nationalists’ government in Balochistan; however, it was subverted by the Bhutto government, resulting in the 1973 insurgency. The Baloch suffered immeasurably during the brutal army operations until 1977. Balochistan simmered under injustices and erupted in 2005; since then the Baloch are paying dearly for resisting the systematic state perpetrated atrocities. Thousands have gone missing and nearly 700 of the abducted Baloch have been killed. These enforced disappearances and assassinations of the Baloch along with the ethnic and sectarian cleansing of Hazaras expose the state-wrought havoc in Balochistan. Not many pay attention to the dirty war that ravages Balochistan. Economic exploitation has pushed most of Balochistan below the poverty line.
The apathy of people in general is the main reason that the tyrannical and despotic regimes get away with their brutalities and atrocities against people; tyranny is always proportional to the apathy of the people. People here seem to have no time for outrage and this acquiescing attitude is the main reason that we see unstoppable ascendancy of state tyranny and religious bigotry. Injustices and atrocities if unopposed tend to become legitimised and considered the norm. Unfortunately, this apathy and lack of indignation at injustices becomes so ingrained into peoples’ psyche that it makes them completely insensitive to their surroundings that they eventually meekly accept injustices even against self without protest. Submissiveness and tyranny are conjoined twins doomed to live together; be submissive and oppression becomes your inevitable fate.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at mmatalpur@...