Another August 14 passed away, another day of patriotism and another day of silence in Quetta. In 2010 I happened to cross over to Hub in Balochistan for a picnic at a luxurious farm house on the occasion of Pakistan’s Independence day. Still a kid back then, I was surprised to witness that not even a single Pakistani flag was waving.
I was so surprised that I started reading and inquiring about what has gone so wrong in Balochistan that they hate us. Hub, hardly a one hour drive from Karachi, but the hearts are cold and are pumped with hatred as thousands of Balochis have gone missing. The Pakistan Army, the political set-up and also the tribes that rule the land in that part of Pakistan have all contributed to an isolated province that is rich in culture, resources and an integral part of the much hyped China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
In the last week, I got into arguments, heated debates, while some agreed with me. Why should I buy a Pakistani flag and go out on the streets to create a nuisance for the road users? That is what all happened yesterday. A celebration, an excuse to go bonkers and a nation deprived of entertainment. That mostly sums up the Independence Day.
How can I be a proud Pakistani to do all this, I fail to understand! The part of the problem is the power hungry political and military establishment. If this weren’t the case, we would still have had East Pakistan. I am just surprised how Balochistan has not followed completely in that footstep if we recognise the atrocities that many Balochi organizations have highlighted yet the judiciary, the parliament, and entire political set-up has failed to stop. It is not in our interest if the coming generations of Balochis remain uneducated, armed and hating Pakistan.
Only last week a whole generation of lawyers were killed in Quetta within seconds due to the bomb blast at Civil Hospital. A total intelligence failure from the government and the military. Has the National Action Plan worked? Did Zarb-e-Azb bring peace? All these questions are flaring up. On the other hand, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri played the right political move by announcing a three-day mourning and by flying the national flag at half-mast across the province. This is the end of the incident where the government has played its part “effectively” yet again.
I can’t pick up the Pakistani flag when one part of my country has disowned the land we all fought for and vowed to protect. I can’t pick up the Pakistani flag that promised protection to the minorities but instead killed its own. There are still thousands of missing person cases pending in the courts of Balochistan and Sindh. Not much has been done because the system is a criminal herself. The recent cyber law bill has put us in a conundrum and has tightened its grip around freedom of speech. Should I hail democracy? I certainly should not. Its dictatorship in its worst form. From decades Pakistan is ruled by the elites that have an all benefit and power mindset of governing the people. They never had the mindset to service the people that elect them. A pure British attitude when they ruled India before the partition in 1947.
The Pakistan People’s Party’s famous leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto famous slogan was “Roti Kapra Makan”. The motto was to provide food, clothing, and shelter to the nation. He and his party delivered the same. In Sindh, they leased land for cultivation to the poor farmers and gave them 25% of the crop. However, since the poor farmers can’t afford proper housing, transport and necessary machinery for farming the influential landlords of the province provide them not in kind but in benefit. Keeping the 25% crop as they are providing food, shelter on their land and clothing since they don’t have any money. This is a perfect way to keep the poor in hand while easily practise bonded labour in the 21st century.
Nevertheless, it is fantastic to see people celebrating the Independence Day; while the majority in the rural areas are fighting each day to survive under inhumane conditions. Since August 14, 2015, to August 14, 2016, there have been over 330 deaths reported in terrorist incidents across Pakistan and thousands wounded. These are just government figures, and the actual death toll could be fivefold.
Major Terrorist incidents in Pakistan in post-August 14, 2015
6 August when 14 people, including the Punjab home minister Shuja Khanzada, died in a suicide blast in Shadi Khan village.
18 September when at least 29 people, including an army captain, were killed as militants attacked a Pakistan Air Force base in Badhaber area on the outskirts of Peshawar.
19 October when at least 11 people were killed, and another 22 were wounded after a bomb exploded in a bus in Quetta,
13 December when at least 23 people were killed and 30 injured in a blast in the crowded bazaar of Parachinar.
29 December when at least 26 people were killed, and 56 were injured in a suicide blast at NADRA office in Mardan.
Major Terrorist incidents in Pakistan in pre-August 14, 2016
13 January when at least 15 people were killed and several injured after a bomb explodes near a polio center in Quetta.
20 January when at least 20 people were killed and 60 were wounded after gunmen open fired at Bacha Khan University.
16 March when a bomb detonated in a bus carrying government employees in Peshawar, killing 17 and injuring at least 53.
27 March when at least 74 people were killed, and 338 others were wounded in a suicide bombing at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore.
22 June when Pakistani Sufi singer Amjad Sabri was shot dead in Karachi.
8 August when A Pakistani Taliban faction and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have both claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that mostly targeted lawyers and journalists at a hospital in Quetta that killed at least 70 people.