Nationalism in Pakistan: A Comparative Analysis of Ethnic Factors in East Pakistan and Baluchistan

18 Dec

Fauzia Ghani, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore

Sadia Mushtaq, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore

Namra Mehmood
MPhil Scholar
Department of Political Science
GC University Lahore


The world comprises of different nation states which are comprised of sub nationalities. Some states have homogenous and some have heterogeneous population. States having heterogeneous population consist of many ethnic groups. Each ethnic group residing in such heterogeneous countries have their needs and demands which are very hard to fulfill completely. When this happens, the demands might turn into a movement where people from a certain ethnicity raise their voices so that the ruling elites might hear them and address their concerns completely. States like Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka etc are facing problems of ethno nationalism. A certain ethnicity may ask for provincial autonomy, devolution of power and even independence. In Pakistan case, there are many ethnic groups like Punjabi, Pathan, Baluchis, Sindhi, and Muhajirs etc which are affecting the whole polity. The issue of disintegration of East Pakistan which gave a set back to the political system of Pakistan is well known and nowadays Baluchistan’s movement of ethno nationalism is attracting national as well as international attention. The researchers have tried to dig out the ethnic factors of both federating units i.e. East Pakistan and Baluchistan. The research also provides the theoretical framework of Ethno nationalism in Pakistan and also does an analysis of the factors and causes of ethnic rivalry residing in East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

Key Words: Ethno nationalism, Modernization, Industrialization, Baluch Nationalism, Extra judicial killing, Marginalization, East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

After a series of events Pakistan appeared on the map of the world. Much day and night effort was made to create Pakistan. Soon after its creation the death of Quaid-e-Azam clogged the development in Pakistan as there was no leader alike Jinnah. Majority of other leaders were driven by personal power and greed. In order to achieve the power the leaders brought in civil and military bureaucracy into politics thus harming the democratization process and country’s unity. This also gave rise to frustration and a sense of deprivation among ethnic groups residing inside Pakistan. As there was no devolution of power and the system was highly centralized, the demands of many ethnicities were not taken into account. There was unequal distribution of resources and power resulting in a widened gap between haves and haves not. All this resulted in promotion of ethnic nationalism.
A majority of writers talked about ethnic problems and their reasons in Pakistan. South Asian ethnic insurgencies are mostly indigenous. These issues emerged from states having past colonial socio, cultural, economic and political heritage and mostly in reaction to unwise government policies. 1In accordance with the Brown, the Asian ethnic conflicts are triggered by bad and corrupt leaders or bad neighbors. These bad leaders or bad neighbors might convert the politically unstable situation into warfare. 2 Feroz Ahmed is of the view that ethnic conflict in Pakistan emerged because the state leaders refused to accept that these regions were entirely different in culture and language from each other. When they were not accepted as different entity and were taken as one. This created ethnic problems as culture or language is dear to people’s heart and they don’t want to lose it or can’t see it fading away at any cost. This resulted in weakened national integrity as relations got bad among various ethnic groups.

Adeel Khan views ethnic conflicts in Pakistan as a struggle for power between the dominant and non-dominant groups. 3He analyzed ethnic conflicts in Pakistan as a political matter and for him politics is all about power. 4He says that if all the ethnic groups have their share in power structure the ethnic conflicts can be minimized.
Veena Kukreja has done very useful work on ethnic issues of Pakistan. She concluded that ethno nationalism arises due to problematic relations between the center and the provinces. 5She agrees with Feroz Ahmed and says that the powerful Pakistan ruling elite has remained reluctant to accept heterogeneous society and named it as to law and order problems rather than focusing and solving the issues of governability which was the real root cause of ethnic problems. 6

Tahir Amin, has devoted much part of his work on the ethnic issues of Pakistan. He is of the view that the state policies play an important role in ethnic conflicts in Pakistan. 7He says that in order to reduce the conflicts every ethnic group should be taken in account; they should have equal participation in every field. Having no equal participation will mostly result in conflicts among different ethnicities thus raising the chances of civil war inside the state.
Analyzing the history of Pakistan, one can construe that the ingredient of ethno nationalism is always there. It is in Sindh, Baluchistan, KPK and was also in former East Pakistan. In some provinces, the cry of a separate homeland was also heard as the central government was unable to fully address the concerns of the people. The same happened in East Pakistan where a secession movement occurred and then ultimately Bangladesh was appeared on the world map as an independent country.

On the other hand, Baluchistan is also facing problems due to ethnic rise as their demands are poorly addressed by the center. Some Pakistani leaders and scholars put the scenario of East Pakistan and Baluchistan under the same realm. They think that Baluchistan will separate from Pakistan likewise East Pakistan did in 1971 as the demands for a separate homeland are heard too. A majority of insurgent groups and some political parties of Baluchistan are not ready to live with Pakistan in any case because of many grievances.

The researchers compared the factors responsible for emergence of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan in order to find out that whether they are same or not. They also analyze the history of both the provinces before reaching the conclusion.
Analysis of the circumstances in East Pakistan clearly illustrated the reasons and factors that gave rise to ethno nationalism in the state. The elitist policies played a crucial role in the upsurge of ethno nationalism. Pakistan was in a distinct geographical position having no geographical contiguity between East and West Pakistan. There was a parliamentary system but this system was not working properly in Pakistan, the political institutions of Pakistan had been at a developing stage and the political leadership had no experience in managing the affairs of the state. This caused the politicians to lose control over political matters thud giving a chance to the bureaucracy who placed themselves in the politics of Pakistan. There were no general elections during the phase1947- 1958. The involvement of bureaucracy in political matters and the effect of the policies of the politicians enhanced the reservations in East Pakistan as their representation was low in bureaucracy. Due to this the demands and hopes were not respected by the power elite thus giving rise to ethno nationalism. Along with this a language movement in East Pakistan, economic inequality among East and West Pakistan and intense centralized system arose a sense of deprivation and frustration among Bengalis. Due to the legacy of the past and bad planning of elite class East Pakistan was far behind from West Pakistan on the economic sphere. This economic gap widened between the two wings in 1947-48.According to the Government of India act 1935 article 92 A central governments had the power to dismiss the provincial government and impose direct central rule on the provinces. This power was used in 1954 when elected provincial government of United Front in East Pakistan was dismissed by the Governor General. This caused great resentment among Bengalis as in United Front all parties were regional and belonged to East Pakistan. Now, the entire situation turned into worst case scenario giving rise to ethno nationalism in East Pakistan.

When Ayub Khan in 1958 came into power, he declared martial law. He set up councils of national integration in both regions, instituted inter wing scholarships, ordered compulsory inter wing postings of civil officers and made arrangement for the exchange of cultural and students delegations. 8He also incorporated a term in 1962 constitution for the elimination of inequalities between the two regions. Ayub Khan adopted many options in order to promote national integration and laid stress on Islam as a united force. These policies of Ayub Khan that were industrialization, modernization or economic development gave rise to another group i.e. industrialists in which Bengalis had again less representation. This thing further widened the gap between the East and West Pakistan. The six points of Mujeeb also came in his era. In the era of Yahya khan disunity between the two regions were at the top. The martial law which was imposed was considered as an effort to deprive the Bengalis from their rights. Yahya said that the general elections are held as early as possible. After elections, only three political figures i.e Yahya Khan, the Awami league led by Sheikh Mujeebur Rehman and Pakistan People’s Party led by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto were left. They had different opinions and views regarding power making consensus among them really difficult. 9Awami league emerged as a leading party in the elections. The decision of Yahya khan to postpone the National Assembly session made the situation out of control in East Pakistan. To control the situation in East Pakistan Yahya khan ordered a military operation in East Pakistan which making the situation more badly resulting in the separation of East Pakistan.

Since many years in Pakistan and unfortunately in Baluchistan as well, the wave of ethno nationalism is operating. Baluchistan is the biggest but the least populated province of Pakistan. Since inception of Pakistan, the relations between Baluchis and the center were problematic. One of the reasons was less representation of Baluchistan in the mainstream politics. Baluchis were of the view that the central government is not at all concerned about them and are only concerned about the natural resources in their province. These perceptions gave rise to ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. Baluchistan from 1947-70 was a federation and was directly administered from the center. In 1955, Muhammad Ali Bogra combined the provinces of western wing as one unit in order to counter the superiority of Bengalis. But the one unit policy did not get popularity in Baluchistan and Khan of Kalat Mir Muhammad Yar Khan showed serious reservations on this policy. With the help of tribal leaders, the Khan of Kalat demonstrated against this scheme. Just one day before the imposition of martial law a military operation was launched in order to counter these demonstrations. Mir Ahmed Yar Khan was arrested resulting in more worsened situation in Baluchistan. Army justified their operation in Baluchistan on the grounds that Agha Abdul Karim who was the brother of Khan of Kalat and was involved with Afghanistan in assembling an eighty thousand tribal force for rebellion against the central government. However these charges were denied by the Khan of Kalat. 10After gaining the status of province and the election of first representative government in Baluchistan it was the perception of Baluchis that now their problems and worries will come to an end.

In 1970, National Awami party (NAP) formed a coalition government with Jamait Ulema-e- Islam (JUI) in Baluchistan but it was dismissed by the central government. This dismissal of the elected government along with the arrest of its leaders resulted in third insurgency and then another military operation in Baluchistan deteriorated the situation further. The insurgency came to an end when General Zia ul Haq over throw the Bhutto’s government. The situation of Baluchistan was under control and the level of ethno nationalism remained static in Zia’s era and in civilian era but their concerns was also not addressed properly.

Another shock in political system was faced by Pakistan when martial law was imposed in 1999 by Musharraf .After coming into power the situation in Baluchistan became more volatile due to the policies adopted by him. From the very beginning Baloch Sardars were against the mega projects which were initiated in Baluchistan. In this regard Mengal said “In the name of gigantic projects is a plan under way to settle the Punjabis in Baluchistan,” 11Musharraf was of the view that Sardars opposed the development projects because they thought that with the development in their region their influence will be reduced however Sardars said that they are not against the development but are against the deprivation of Baluch people in the name of development and modernization. 12In this regard in Chagai district a project with the name of Saindak was initiated. It was only the metallurgy project in Pakistan. The project started operations in 1995 but after the trail production it was closed down as the government did not have enough money. Then in 2002, Musharraf gave this project to a Chinese company on lease for ten years. The distribution of profits is according to a formula that is unintelligible i.e. The Chinese company takes 50%, the Federal Government 48% and only 2% of Baluchistan. 13

Along with this, another glaring example of injustice with the Baluchis is Gawadar port. Gawadar port holds a strategic and economic value. It is designed as a regional hub for transit and transshipment of goods for Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East. When this agreement was signed in 2002 between Pakistan and China there was no representative of the provincial government. In Musharraf era, another military operation was ordered resulting in death of Akbar Khan Bugti giving rise to an unending insurgency inside Baluchistan. Baluchistan is the least developed province of Pakistan having lowest human development index and high rate of human rights violation.

Ethnic Factors
A comparative analysis is done by the researchers in order to test out the relevance of the factors which promoted ethno nationalism in both provinces. Factors which promote the ethno nationalism in both provinces are as follows.
 Culture
 Inequalities in different areas
 Less representation of Bengalis and Baluchis on Influential positions
 Elitist Policies
 Scarcity of resources
 Centralized System
 Role of military and military operations
 Underdevelopment
 Role of foreign powers
 Human rights violations

First factor that gave rise to ethno nationalism among ethnic group is culture. Culture constitutes an important place in any ethnic group. It constitutes the way of living, language and traditions of any group. The role of language in erupting the conflict between the East Pakistan and the center needs no introduction. The first bone of contention between East Pakistan and the center was on the language issue when it was announced that Urdu would be sole official language of Pakistan. Bengalis were not ready to accept this as they were of the view that they are in majority so Bengali should be the national language. The philosophy behind the declaration of one language Urdu as national language was to promote national integration. But it was very difficult to suppress the voice of that ethnic group which was in majority. In 1954 this movement came to an end when the constituent assembly accepted Bengali as one of the state languages. This language movement was a start of the sub nationalism among Bengalis on one hand and but on the other hand the strong retaliation was not seen in Baluchistan when Urdu language was declared as an official national language.
Even at that point in time Baluchistan did’t get the status of a province but it doesn’t mean that in Baluchis were not concerned to their culture but the level of intensity especially in matter of language was not seen in Baluchistan. Culturally Baluchis were conscious enough as when the first government was installed in Baluchistan they did a lot of projects for the initiation of their culture. Dehi Muhafiz (rural police) was formed. They formed their own press and established a national council of arts in Quetta under the leadership of Lal Baksh Rind. This council was established to promote Baloch literature and culture. When the central government asked the provincial government to introduce Arabic script for Baluchis language they opposed it. They wanted to introduce roman script for the Baluchis language as they thought it is more close to Baluchis culture. But this language movement didn’t get so much popularity as the provincial government of Baluchistan declared Urdu as its official language. It is also observed that in East Pakistan, majority of population were living there having common culture and language whereas Baluchistan is least populated province of Pakistan and at a same time comprises of many ethnic groups, it is not culturally homogenous so the role of language and culture in erupting ethno nationalism in Baluchistan is less than East Pakistan.

Second factor were inequalities in different sectors like power, prestige, development and economic matters which gave impetus to the ethnic conflicts in East Pakistan and Baluchistan. After the analysis, it can be concluded that the economic grievances in both the provinces played a vital role in the outbreak of ethno nationalism. In order to overcome these disparities provinces asked for provincial autonomy so they could manage their issues themselves but it was not given.
The seizing of rights of both, Bengalis and Baluchis by the central government resulted in frustration among them. Moreover, the unequal distribution of income between East and West Pakistan i.e. in West Pakistan from Rs.330 in 1949-50 to Rs.373 in 59-60; whereas in East Pakistan it declined from Rs.305 to Rs.28814 created hatred in the hearts of Bengalis thus strengthening their wish for a separate homeland. When Ayub Khan came into power he acknowledged that there was a disparity in East and West Pakistan especially in economic sector. In Ayub Khan’s era there was an increase in public sector allocations to East Pakistan but in private sector they were left behind. A study reveals that from 1963-68 only twenty two percent of the total private investment took place in East Pakistan as compared to seventy eight percent in West Pakistan. Like others Ayub Khan also failed to fill this gap between East Pakistan and West Pakistan. On the other side condition of Baluchistan is also the same.
Despite the fact it is rich in natural resources and minerals economically Baluchistan is far behind the other provinces of Pakistan. One of the interesting facts is that Baluchis people were exploited economically by different central governments. They were not given due share and were not included in the mega projects which were initiated in their own province. Baluchistan receives a 12.4 per cent royalty from its natural gas revenues but that royalty is based on a well head price that is far lower than that of other provinces e.g. in Baluchistan, the well head price for natural gas is $0.38 per thousand cubic feet; some sites in Punjab and Sindh get $3 and $2 respectively. 15 Both provinces faced disparities in different sectors and this resulted in ethnic issues in them.

Third factor was role of the people on influential position played an important role especially in the state of Pakistan where apart from politicians, the role of bureaucracy and army holds importance in managing the affairs of the state. The problem was that some ethnic groups were over represented in bureaucracy and military resulting in underrepresentation and threat to the existence and interests of other ethnic groups. Notwithstanding, the majority population of Pakistan, the Bengalis had very minor representation in army and bureaucracy and those who joined army and civil services were not on superior positions. Same is the case with the people of Baluchistan; they have less representation too in civil and military services, but unlike East Pakistan they are in minority. In army, the number of Baluchis is very low and this scenario made the Baluchis leaders call the army as Punjabi army. The policies adopted, less representation on influential positions created resentment among both the ethnic groups further aggravating the situation.

Fourth factor are the elitist policies which provided a fertile ground for the outbreak of ethno nationalism. The ill planned policies adopted by several leaders overtime badly affected the national integration of Pakistan. The highly centralized system, no devolution of power and the unawareness of leaders at the center about the conditions and aspirations of different ethnic groups created resentment in the ethnic groups i.e. Baluchis and Bengalis. In Ayub era, one unit policy (1955) harm the national integration of Pakistan to the limit especially in East Pakistan where the majority of Pakistanis were living were not given power to manage their own affairs. The policy of integration through economic development started in Ayub’s era in Pakistan, but the implementation of policies resulted in economic disparity among both regions. Distributive system of resources and power were not based on merit. Same is the case with Baluchistan. The province acquired the status of a province after the debacle of Pakistan. The elites didn’t learn anything from the past and again advocating the policies that showed dictatorial regime. In 1973 the decision of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to dissolve the elected government in Baluchistan is the glaring example of that mindset. After this, the decision to initiate a military operation in Baluchistan was the biggest mistake.

Furthermore, in Musharraf era, the decisions to build cantonments in Baluchistan, starting of military operation in Baluchistan that resulted in the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, inauguration of different development projects and not recruiting Baluchis in it deteriorated the situation even further. Between all these polices nationalist parties in both the regions start flourishing as people were fully convinced that the elite in center has nothing to do with their development and interest. So one can conclude that in East Pakistan and Baluchistan, polices of elites is the prominent factor in the emergence of the ethno nationalism. This scenario developed insecurity among Baluchis and Bengalis. This insecurity gave rise to other issues like war of natural resources among different provinces.

Fifth factor is the scarcity of resources .In any developing state scarcity of resource create problems as there are number of groups which are striving to fulfill their needs like in Pakistan. All the groups are in a competition to acquire more and more resources for a better standard of living. The same issue is evident in East Pakistan and Baluchistan scenario where the resources of both provinces were used by other ethnic groups creating tensions between the ethnic groups. The issue of Sui Gas is a very prominent example where the gas was provided to almost all parts of the country but not in Baluchistan where the Sui Gas was first found. Along with this the gas royalty paid to the Baluchis is also not enough. Senator Dr Abdul Malik Baluch, President National Party (Baluchistan) said: “The Baluchistan economy is based on agriculture, minerals, gas and fisheries. You know the history of the gas. It was discovered in 1952 and its supply to other parts of the country began in 1955. It reached Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and every corner of Punjab but never reached Baluchistan completely. Saindak, which is one of the biggest cooper projects, 50 per cent share is going to the Chinese, 45 per cent to the federal government while the Baluchis are getting only 2 per cent from it. As for agriculture, Baluchistan is 46 per cent of the land of Pakistan is not getting the due share of the Indus water”16. In order to have a control over resources Baluchistan was continuously asking for provincial autonomy which was given after 18th amendment but was not fully implemented. East Pakistan had the same issue where jute was produced enormously but the Bengalis always complained of not getting their sufficient share instead West Pakistan was given more for development purposes. This war of resources converted into a war for a separate homeland where the Bengalis could use their resources for their betterment.

Sixth factor is the centralized system of the country. After the emergence of Pakistan, the mindset of the ruling elite of Pakistan was that national integration was only acquired through centralized system which created ethnic rivalry. The ruling elites were of the opinion that a system where provinces have autonomy cannot give rise to national integration. But after the application of centralized system in Pakistan there was no national integration rather than different ethnic groups called for provincial autonomy. Provinces or ethnic groups were not satisfied with the policies of ruling elites. The constitution of 1956 and 1962 also called for the strong center rather than the provincial autonomy. Bengalis were always in favor of provincial autonomy because they wanted to manage the affairs of their province and wanted to control their resources, but this demand was never addressed and deteriorating the situation to the full. After the separation of East Pakistan when Baluchistan became a province the policies of center towards Baluchistan were to force them to ask for autonomy.

Meanwhile, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto dissolved the first elected government of Baluchistan the Baluchis considered it as an authoritarian policy of center in which no weight-age was given to the aspirations of provinces. During the tenure of other governments, the Baluchis were not satisfied with the conduct of central government and their policies. Also in Musharraf era many development projects were initiated in Baluchistan but they opposed all, they said that it was not acceptable to them to start any project without taking into confidence the local people of Baluchistan. They think that their natural resources were used for the development of the country except Baluchistan. In short centralized policies by the elite as well as army paved a way for the emergence of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan.

Seventh factor is the role of army and military operations in the eruption of ethno nationalism. Army is a powerful institution of Pakistan since its inception. The country has been run by army many a times. Army men had run the affairs of the state starting from Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf. Unfortunately the role of the military in emergence of ethnic conflict is very important to analyze. As in the past, the policies adopted by army especially in the form of military operations in these provinces resulted in the outbreak of ethno nationalism. The policies pursued by Ayub Khan in the form of economic development resulted in unequal development which creating great resentment among the masses of East Pakistan as they were economically exploited. In one unit there was no provincial autonomy, all the provinces had to obey central government. Taking in account both of the provinces and their conditions, the military operation was also conducted in East Pakistan but the circumstances in which military operation was conducted in East Pakistan and Baluchistan were different. The effect of military operation in East Pakistan started many debates saying that if Pakistan forces didn’t do military operation in East Pakistan, Pakistan would have been saved. Others said that India was openly supporting the Mukti Bahini that whether operation was conducted or not the result would have been the same.
However in Baluchistan the circumstances were different. In Baluchistan forces were used in 1948, 1958, 1973 and in 2006 and till today. The continuity of military operations in Baluchistan worsened the situation instead not even one of them pacified the situation The decision to use force in East Pakistan can be defended on these grounds that at that time India openly intervened in the domestic affairs of Pakistan but in Baluchistan whenever military operation was launched it could have been avoided. Instead negotiation as a tool could have used. Whenever there was resentment among Baluchis against the central government on their policies, the option to use force was implied which further aggravating the condition. Kachkool Ali Baluch, Leader of the Opposition, Baluchistan Assembly made a statement on such condition that “The people of Pakistan did not get a nation – the Pakistan army got a state.” 17 To quote Mir Khuda Bakhsh, a clan elder of the Marri tribe in Kohlu, “The motive of the military action is to capture oil and gas resources of the area”. 18 On the basis of such notions some nationalist parties of Baluchistan that started their demand with provincial autonomy now demanded separation from Pakistan.

Eighth factor is development political, economic and social. There is a perception of certain ethnic group that the government is not interested in their development and is not concerned about their demands usually gives rise to ethno nationalism as apparent in Baluchistan case, where the people think that the central government is only interested in their resources. No gas availability, lowest human development index, illiteracy, food insecurity and unemployment clearly show the unconcerned behavior of the government. Mir Khuda Bakhsh told to newsmen that “the local people ask what benefits the exploitation of power resources in Dera Bugti has brought to their lives in the past 50 years? They still burn wood for fuel purpose and live like nomad. Then, how would the exploitation of mineral riches from Kohlu benefit the local population in the future? Whereas the Sui gas brought an industrial revolution in Pakistan, Baluchistan still lacks an industrial base which is the single biggest cause of unemployment in the province.” 19
It is worth noting that not even single project changed the life of Baluchis they remain poor and underdeveloped as compare to other ethnic groups. The effect of so called development in Baluchistan didn’t change the conditions of Baluchistan and the minors funds which were allocated to Baluchistan failed to reach the people of province as they were not properly planned. The Social Policy Development Centre 2005 report discovered, that the percentage of the population living in a high degree of deprivation is the highest in Baluchistan as compared to the other provinces. To be exact it is 88 percent in Baluchistan, 51 percent in the KPK, 49 percent in Sindh and 25 percent in Punjab. 20. The same issue was with the East Pakistan. At that time one unit was prevailed in Pakistan and it divided Pakistan into two zones East Pakistan and West Pakistan. Bengalis always complained that there was no balance between the East Pakistan and West Pakistan in context of development. Despite the fact that majority population was living in East Pakistan; West Pakistan consumed more resources and money. All these factors invited the foreign elements to intervene and use the situation in their own interest.

Ninth factor is role of foreign hand in worsen the ethnic situation. Taking advantage from the state of affairs the foreign powers got the fertile grounds to use this situation in their interest. It may not be right to say that foreign intervention is the primary source of ethnic conflict but in the long run foreign powers have their role in the separation of East Pakistan and also in upsurge of ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. The role of foreign hand in the deteriorating the ethnic conflict further in East Pakistan and Baluchistan is quite evident. When Pakistan came into being its territory was divided into two regions. The distance between the two regions were thousand miles and in between India was situated.
It is observed that from the very beginning India had its role in worsening the situation in East Pakistan. They openly supported the Bengalis against the Pakistan forces, trained them and provided them with weapons. It was due to the Indian support that Bengalis became successful in attaining the separate homeland for them. In case of Baluchistan the role of foreign countries cannot be denied. Government of Pakistan said so many times that they have clues that India is involved in building up volatile situation in Baluchistan. Pakistani intelligence agencies are convinced that Indian consulates in Kandahar, bordering on Baluchistan, and the city of Jalalabad, bordering on KPK, provide funds arms to the Baluchistan Liberation Army and the Baluchistan Liberation Front. 21. So in Baluchistan and East Pakistan the role of foreign country in destabilizing the situation is quite evident.

Tenth factor is situation of Human Rights. Along with other tensions and conflicting situations there is probability of the emergence of human rights violation when there is a wave of ethno nationalism in any province. In East Pakistan and Baluchistan the issues of human rights violation are there. The issue of ethno nationalism in both provinces flared up because of Human rights violations. It largely depends on the government how they respond to the aspirations of ethnic groups. In case government adopted the measure of force, it further aggravated the situation. Military operation conducted in East Pakistan to defend the boundaries of Pakistan also gave rise to human rights violation. It is absolutely true that when there is a use of force despite the fact it’s justified it will result in the suffering of people. Too many military operations in Baluchistan were also conducted .In the era of Musharraf many people lost their lives or were displaced from their homes. Apart from that many other issues which are now prevailing in Baluchistan. i.e. target killing; missing person issue further worsening the situation.

The factors/causes of ethno nationalism in East Pakistan and Baluchistan as mentioned above are many which put country at the brink of destruction at one point in time and the other. It is observed that in one province one factor is dominant and in other province other factors are dominant. Some factors are also common in both provinces. On these grounds many people start claiming that as some factors are common in both provinces, result will be the same which will result in breakup of Baluchistan from Pakistan like East Pakistan .Some people said that despite the fact that some reasons were common in both provinces the probability of breaking up of Pakistan like 1971 is not possible because the conditions of Baluchistan and East Pakistan are different. Selig Harrison says that the reasons for the ethnic conflict in both provinces are same like economic grievances, less representation in army and bureaucracy etc but there are also some important differences between the both which making them different from one other. 22
Geographical contiguity in any federation is very important and plays a great role in the integration of the state. After the establishment of Pakistan, it didn’t have many resources to tackle East Pakistan which was far away from the rest of the state thus creating problems. This physical separation invited external power to intervene in East Pakistan more openly as compared to Baluchistan. In case of Baluchistan there is no physical separation. So the central government can defend Baluchistan well.

Secondly, East Pakistan was in majority unlike Baluchistan and it was hard to ignore the majority and their demands as compared to minority. Minority can be suppressed by central government but to suppress the demand of majority of population is not easy. Not paying attention to the demands of Bengalis resulted in an upsurge of ethnic movement resulting in appearance of Bangladesh. Moreover, East Pakistan was homogenous population unlike Baluchistan. In Baluchistan apart from Baluchis many ethnic groups are also residing. So like East Pakistan Baluchistan has a heterogeneous population. In the words of former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf “the situation in Baluchistan had no resemblance with that of East Pakistan and asserted that the province would remain an integral part of Pakistan”. He said that some tribal chiefs of Baluchistan were trying to give a perception that situation in the province was similar to that of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which was far from reality. He added that the dynamics and situation of East Pakistan were very different from that of Baluchistan as the former was home to 52 percent population of Pakistan which unanimously stood to get separation and Baluchistan formed only 4 percent population of the total Pakistan and majority of them do not want separation except some of the Baloch Sardars whose supporters were less than 0.5 percent.” 23

Thirdly, in accordance with Selig Harrison Baloch nationalism has not yet acquired the cohesion and momentum that Bengali nationalism had in 1971. 24In Baluchistan the leaders which are driving secessionist movement are not living in Baluchistan rather they express their program from outside that they are not ready to live with Pakistan. At the same time all the tribal leaders do not agree for a separate homeland and just want their rights to be fulfilled. Whereas in East Pakistan the way Mujib Ur Rehman mobilized the masses is quite different from the Baloch leaders. He was leading a homogeneous society. There is a lack of consensus among the leaders of Baluchistan. If some tribal leaders are driving the secessionist movement then some tribal leaders are in government as well. So there are bleak chances that on the demand of few tribal leaders Baluchistan will separate from Pakistan.

In this connection the leader of Baluchistan’s political party, Akhtar’s Mengal presented his six points and declared it same as the six points of Mujib. There was a huge hue and cry all over and it was said that Balochistan is experiencing and demanding the same as once demanded by Bengalis in 1966. After analysis of these points many differences can be seen. Mujib’s six points covered constitutional, political, economic and strategic aspects. It was maximalist positions to secure a fair deal for East Pakistan where as Mengal’s six point do not go beyond demanding ordinary rights enjoyed by citizen elsewhere in the country. 25 According to the Najam Sethi “Sheikh Mujib’s plan all but demanded independence from Pakistan. But for Akhtar Mengal, “a soft or hard divorce” is still dependent on the outcome of the dialogue and reconciliation process.” 26

Fourthly, the circumstances in which Pakistan was made were not very buoyant. There were lesser resources and it was not in a strong position to defend itself especially in that case when there was a physical separation too. Pakistan had less army, fewer weapons and possessed no nuclear power. But now the scenario is totally different as it has huge army, sophisticated weapons and at the same time is a nuclear power. In case of foreign intervention in Baluchistan like East Pakistan, Pakistan will defend it effectively. It was also said that if in 1971 Pakistan had nuclear power India didn’t dare to intervene in Pakistan so openly. It was after the separation of East Pakistan that Pakistan started its policy of building up nuclear power for its defense because they felt that in 1971 they failed to defend its boundaries.

Above are the points and issues that describe that despite the common factors in Baluchistan and East Pakistan in the eruption of ethno nationalism there are many imperative differences in both provinces which showed that separation of Baluchistan is not as easy as in the case of East Pakistan. But it doesn’t mean that things should be allowed to get worsen in Baluchistan. Efforts should be made to fulfill the demands of Baluchis and their grievances should be fully addressed. It is the responsibility of government to address the problems of Baluchis. After scrutinizing various factors of ethnic tensions and ethno nationalism in Pakistan following recommendations are given in order to counter the ethno nationalism in Baluchistan.

 General amnesty should be given to all Baluchis and practical implementation should be done by taking them on the negotiating table instead of using force. Moreover, they should be included in the main stream politics so that they do not feel alienated anymore.

 Military operation is not a solution of any problem. To curb ethnic conflict through weapons is a bad option. History shows that whenever a military operation was conducted to curb the ethnic movement it resulted in further bad conditions. In order to avoid ethnic conflict in Baluchistan all kinds of military operation should be ceased.

 Education gives awareness to the masses and enables a person to make his/her life better. If people of a specific ethnic group are well off or contented they will not indulge themselves in any kind of anti-state activities. Low literacy rate could be regarded as one of the reasons of ethno nationalism in Baluchistan. If the youth in Baluchistan get the opportunity to get education they will use their capacity to make their living standard better and in constructive activities.

 The emergence of Human Rights Violations badly affects the internal environment of the state and also the image of the country at international level. When ethnic conflict exists there emerges the human rights violation as well which then ultimately makes situations more volatile. In Baluchistan, there exists a huge number of Human Rights Violation where the issue of missing person and killing and dumping policy is of the greatest concern. Army and the intelligence agencies are alleged for being involved in extra judicial killings but the army denies it. In order to put an end to the ethnic conflict in Baluchistan, law and order inside the province should be maintained.

 In case of East Pakistan and Baluchistan, both provinces faced the same problem i.e. unequal distribution of resources. The elite policies regarding resource distribution resulted in more marginalization and alienation from the center. In order to curb the ethno nationalism in any Baluchistani it is the responsibility of the government to make an effective distributive system so that the needs and demands of Baluchis are addressed properly.

 For a heterogeneous state to prosper and function properly it is important that it gives equal representation to all of the ethnic groups so that feeling of hatred does not arises for other ethnic groups residing inside the country. Baluchis have less representation in the main stream politics and civil and military services. Due to this underrepresentation, the people who are at the helm of affairs are unaware of the problems of Baluch which made them go against the central government thus giving rise to ethnic conflict. In order to calm down the wave of ethno nationalism it is important for the government to introduce such mechanism in which all ethnic groups have representation so the interests of every ethnic group could be protected.

 In Pakistan, the role of foreign powers in aggravating the ethno nationalism is noteworthy.

 Constitution is a medium that determines the magnitude of independence of a province in managing its affairs. It is also an observation that if province has less powers or regional autonomy or centralized system is operating it gives rise to friction among center government and provincial government. All the constitutions of Pakistan called for less autonomy for the provinces which created great resentment among the provinces. East Pakistan and Baluchistan are clear illustration of these. After the 18th amendment many powers are given to the provinces. In order to avoid ethnic conflict constitution should be implemented in true letter and spirit.

 Pakistan is a heterogeneous state where different ethnic groups reside. The main objective of the state is to develop unity among the diverse ethnic groups by initiating inter province programs where different ethnic groups could share their ideas, culture and views to enhance understanding about each other and to end hatred. Moreover, inter province games and student exchange programs should also be initiated in order to create inter province harmony.

 Sardari system is the trademark of Baluchistan society. To abolish it completely would be impossible. The government should sit on the negotiating table with the Sardars and mutually work for the development of Baluchistan. The Sardars are influential enough to develop Baluchistan and Baluchis so that they can be the part of integrative force of the country.

1. Micheal Brown and Sumit Ganguly (eds), “Government Policy and Ethnic relations in Asia and Pacific”, (Cambridge, M.A: MIT Press,1970) ,p.8
2. Michaeal E.Brown,(ed), “The International Dimension of Internal Conflicts,” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press 1996),p.571
3. Adeel Khan, Politics of Identity, Ethnic Nationalism and the State in Pakistan (London: Sage Publications, 2005), p.23
4. ibid
5. Veena Kukreja, Contemporary Pakistan, Political Processes, Conflicts and Crises (London: Sage publications, 2003), p.45
6. ibid
7. Tahir Amin, Ethno National Movements of Pakistan Domestic and international factors (Islamabad: Institute of Policy Studies, 1988) p.32
8. Safdar Mehmood, Pakistan divided (Lahore: Feroz Sons limited, 1984), p.28
9. Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972).p.192
10. Ibid., p.287
11. ibid
12. ibid
13. Ibid
14 ibid. p.34
15. Ibid
16. Dr. Noor-ul-Haq Balochistan Facts and Fiction: Islamabad Policy Research Institute. Viewed on 3rd March 2012
17. Pakistan: A forgotten conflict in Baluchistan, viewed on 15 may 2013,
18. Ibid
19. Syed Fazal-e-Haidar,Higher Poverty in Balochistan,
20. Zulfikar Shah, “Balochistan on the brink,” Dawn, February 8, 2008
21. Daily Times, Lahore, 13 February, 2006.
22. Selig S.Harrison, “Ethnicity and Political Stalemate in Pakistan”, in the State Religion and Ethnic Politics,ed Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (United States: Library of Congress,1986),p277
23. Understanding Baluchistan by Musharaff, understanding-Baluchistan
24. Selig S.Harrison, “Ethnicity and Political Stalemate in Pakistan”, in the State Religion and Ethnic Politics, ed Ali Banuazizi and Myron Weiner (United States: Library of Congress, 1986), p277
25. Dr.Pervaiz Tahir, “6 Points: Now and Then,” Jahangir’s World Times, Nov 2012
Courtesy . Berkeley Journal of Social Sciences
Vol. 4, Fall 2014

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