DR Abdul Malik Baloch speaks at the event on Tuesday.—White Star
DR Abdul Malik Baloch speaks at the event on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: Although there’s a parliament in the country, it’s powerless (be ikhtiar). Ours is a multinational state and those nationalities are recognised by their cultural legacies. Here three big civilisations existed and all these nationalities are their offshoots, having their own language, history and culture. But they have been facing difficulties. The current security state concept is not the cure for the ailments of this country. We need to adopt the concept of a welfare state.

This was stated by former chief minister of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch on Tuesday while speaking as chief guest at a seminar held at the Arts Council on the current political scenario of Pakistan. The seminar was organised by The Intellectual Forum (TIF).

Dr Baloch said God knows the way we have manipulated the 18th Amendment. Credit goes to all the [political] parties. The recommendations made by the National Party [which he represents] focused on three subjects: defence, currency and foreign policy. Unfortunately, when we (party) tried to touch the Objectives Resolution, the people sitting there [in the discussion] said those from the Left are trying to play with our ideological asset. Dr Baloch said his party and allies did whatever they could but [power] “should be devolved further to district level.”

Dr Baloch said to date in Balochistan, Sandeman’s system is being implemented, which is: “Give respect to the nawab, he will control the people himself.” People expected revolutionary things from our government [when he was in power] but it was a ‘loose’ government. We know how difficult it is to say ‘no’ because here order (hukm chalta hai) is followed not governance (iqtidar nahin). Political parties should have collective leadership, collective decision-making and self-censorship. If the parties don’t have them, how can they be expected to turn the country into a welfare state?

Dr Baloch said the fire that was lit by a dictator in Balochistan is still aflame. “We tried a lot and nearly achieved success but they’re not interested in solving this problem.” Also, a process of de-politicisation has begun in the province. The need of the hour is that nationalists and members of the left get together; it might pave the way forward.

Academic Prof Dr Jaffar Ahmed said in order to understand the subject the link between the past and the present must be made. The decisions that were taken in the past have their bearing on the present. Religion seems to be used by the state as a weapon. In the British Indian Army, Punjab had a 35 per cent share. After the formation of Pakistan, that institute [army] came up as the most powerful (baladast) with a majority from Punjab.

In 1947, the biggest migration in history took place. One million people lost their lives. In our country political governments are there just in name (numaish ke liyey). The real power lies with the establishment.

Dynastic politics

Dr Ahmed also asked the political parties for introspection. He argued that political parties in Pakistan have become family parties, and the pattern goes to the lowest level. Constituencies have become dynastic. Electables have become essential for them. “There should be a political audit of the 18th Amendment.” It should be seen how far the establishment tried to discredit it [amendment] and how much the political parties did that. “Provinces’ performance needs to be examined. Federalism can’t remain static.”

Yousuf Mastikhan said there’s a need for restructuring the country. Unity between Sindh and Balochistan is of great importance.

Earlier, chairman of the forum Masood Noorani welcomed the guests and pointed out that intellectuals think about the betterment of society and contribute their ideas to it. He went back in the history of the country, too, talking about the various difficult political phases it had to go through, stressing that provinces should have full autonomy.

Prof Aijaz Ahmed Qure­shi and Idrees Chandio also spoke. Senator Raza Rab­bani was to deliver the keynote address, but he couldn’t make it to the event.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020