04 Jul 2020


THIS is apropos the review ‘The black swan of Pakistan’ on Tilak Devasher’s Pakistan: The Balochistan Conundrum (Eos, June 28). Much has been said in the book but the one sentence that has been just glossed over tells the whole truth which is nowhere in the book.

I quote from the review: “Devasher provides data to support his argument that there is a dearth of ‘stakeholders’ in the province who would desire to see the province progress. Unfortunately, any stakeholders that do exist choose to pocket for themselves whatever benefits are extended for the province.”

Herein lies the truth of the ‘problem’ that Balochistan is. It is the sardars of Balochistan who have arrogated to themselves the title of ‘stakeholders’ and pocketed all the largesse that federal governments have been lavishing on them throughout the years.

Who among the leaders of Balochistan is the common man of the province? Political leadership vests with the sardars. It is the sardars who pocket the largesse and make sure that education does not spread in the province; they make sure that the common man in that province gets just the bare minimum to survive.

Be it the Bugtis or the Mengals or whatever; they keep a hard posture towards the Centre so that the largesse keeps coming and, back home, they do nothing for the common man. Who among them has set up a hospital, a college, or a school?

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had rescinded the sardari system. Unfortunately, it did not hold. Most people themselves stick to the sardari system religiously. Perhaps the penalty of defiance is much too much.

The ‘problem’ of Balochistan will not go away unless its sardars are undone and leadership emerges from among the masses. What happened to the roads that President Pervez Musharraf had built, connecting villages with the highways?

Syed I. R. Kazimi


Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020