An impartial and academic review of Human Rights issues in Balochistan

DND Thought CenterAn impartial and academic review of Human Rights issues in Balochistan

Shazia Anwer Cheema

Whenever the state of Pakistan makes efforts to promote peace and security, anti-national elements and forces immediately become active and start playing their role, possibly assigned by someone else from outside the country.

   

This time, a new wave of protests in Baluchistan is placing this land on the global news map. The propagation evolves, as before, around the dictions of human rights but this attempt is deeper than before because ultra-nationalism is being used to trigger the “right of self-determination” concept therefore leaving no doubt that certain forces are behind those who wish to disintegrate (God forbids) Pakistan. Regrettably, innocent citizens get easily trapped through the slogan of ultra-nationalism and history has testified to this fact.

History has witnessed that humans formed countless classifications to identify themselves, individuality and group identity have been crucial aspects, especially in human history.

The nation is a territorial relation of collective self-consciousness of actual and imagined duration. Ethnicity and nationality are so closely related to the territory they inhabit that most people share simultaneously the same name with it

Our evolution is deeply connected to conditions by time and space. Our existence in certain times and spaces creates our norms, cultures, traditions, societies, and even ethnicities. How this uncontrollable phenomenon of our time and space gives room to superiority and supremacy has been dealt with by many social and behavioral theorists.

Social Identity Theory explains it by co-relating it with identity. Our existence in a certain time and space forges our ethnicities and constitutes our identities which become the basis of our national identities. In Grosby’s words: “The nation is a territorial relation of collective self-consciousness of actual and imagined duration. Ethnicity and nationality are so closely related to the territory they inhabit that most people share simultaneously the same name with it”.

It is strange to grasp the idea that human beings go to deep lengths to disassociate with others and associate with their group identity. The body piercing to tattoos everything is related to exclusion and inclusion.

During the early days of human evolution, we needed the protection of ingroup based on belonging, rationing, and safety all directly attached to the group we belonged to. However, now these aspects are redundant and practically purposeless but still exist in our brains and sometimes convert into extreme ingroup identities or ultra-nationalism

Out-group individuals need to transform themselves to be part of an existing group. This group identity can be observed in small groups of high school kids or incarcerated criminals to the extent of a nationalist and ultra-nationalistic larger grouping. The longing for belonging and supremacy over others is a key parameter of group identity. Sense of belonging is an innate human phenomenon but feeling a subjective supremacy or in most cases trying to cultivate that supremacism effect is irrelevant in modern times. It once had a huge evolutionary purpose but is now a phantom in the brain and has no practical functionality. During the early days of human evolution, we needed the protection of ingroup based on belonging, rationing, and safety all directly attached to the group we belonged to. However, now these aspects are redundant and practically purposeless but still exist in our brains and sometimes convert into extreme ingroup identities or ultra-nationalism. While recent studies have shown that ultra-nationalism or extreme ingroup inclusion serves no purpose so far as human safety is concerned they however most of the time are being used as a weapon to either hide the criminal activities or bully the state writ to create a hyphened monopoly.

The most plausible human scenario today is that instead of abandoning the phantom limbs that have no functionality for us today, a few ancient survival techniques have been found very useful in serving other hybrid functions such as the ultra-nationalists use their identity to justify actions that violate the law, leading to state intervention, and subsequently, the portrayal of themselves as victims. Social Identity theory has theories couple of ideas that how group identity can harass the state writ and play a victim card rather than create a superficial human rights situation.

  1. Ingroup out group binary relation

As a group identity ultra-nationalists create binary opposition between in-group and out-group belief systems. they cohesively present their belief system in contradiction to the out-group belief system. Ultra-nationalist in-groups create a binary idea of safety, prosperity, security, and well-being from the state of whatever they call out group. They extensively remind their in-group fellows that their well-being is contradictory to state well-being and their suffering is beneficial for the state/out-group. A strong sense of belonging and loyalty characterizes their group identity. The state, in this context, becomes an out-group, especially if its actions are perceived as a threat to the ultra-nationalist identity. The in-group bias inherent in Social Identity Theory predicts that individuals will favor their group and may develop negative attitudes towards perceived out-groups.

Reference to examples from Balochistan, the slogans of “Baloch right”, “Balochistan Hamara Watan (Balochistan is my country), people are missing because the state has kidnapped them, Hum Bahadar Qum hain or apnay Haqooq kay leeay jaan qurban kar dain gain (we are a brave nation and we would sacrifice our lives for our rights) and many such slogans are being raised in protests because they ignite in-group bias and less developed areas with low literacy rates are the prime target of such kind of slogans to pitch people against the state.

  1. The dynamics of Us vs Them

The in-group and out-group categorization creates a clear division between us vs them. Ultra-nationalists dwell in saying that the state and its institutions are adversaries standing in opposition to their nationalist ideals. The actions of the state, particularly those taken to maintain law and order, are interpreted through the lens of this mentality, reinforcing the belief that the state is an oppressive force.

Quite tactfully designers of propaganda against Pakistan crafted slogans like Vo hamaray Haqooq nahi daitay (they do not give us our rights). In such diction “Vo” (they) is pitched as State and hamaray (our) is pitched as we. So it is categorically clear what kind of craftsmanship is being used behind such campaigns.

  1. State Writ and Bullying as a Weapon

The obvious outcome of extreme in-group exclusion is ultra-nationalist identity, and that phenomenon directly leads to anti-state actions either by internal dissent or external forces. They may justify their lawlessness as resistance, or fight for identity, basic rights, or so on but they are wrong from the very beginning by considering the state their adversary. Bullying, in this context, can serve as a means of resistance against perceived oppression. By portraying themselves as victims, the ultra-nationalists may aim to gain sympathy and support, both domestically and internationally.

Threatening the state for dire consequences Hum azadi hasal karay gain (we will get freedom) is used to bully the State because no state would like to disintegrate therefore state would come to the negotiating table.

  1. Confirmation Bias and Cognitive Dissonance

Confirmation bias comes into play as ultra-nationalists selectively interpret information that aligns with their beliefs. They may downplay or ignore evidence of their group’s actions violating the law, focusing instead on instances that support their ideology.  They can justify their actions as survival and fighting the oppressor and can also face cognitive dissonance arising from the disparity between their actions and their nationalistic ideals, individuals may rationalize their anti-state extreme behavior as necessary for the greater good of the nation.

The best example is that ultra-nationalists would never tell how many innocent people they had killed in suicide bombings and target killings but they would tell how many of them have been arrested by the state. The most recent example is propaganda about Rashid Hussain Brohi who is being portrayed as a missing social worker but Rashid Hussain Brohi had been involved in illegal activities even when he was working in UAE. Rashid Hussain Brohi was working as a laborer in Sharjah, UAE, and was arrested by Emirati intelligence on 26 December 2018. He was detained for six months and then deported to Pakistan in July 2019. So was he innocent when he was arrested in the UAE and detained by the police there? No, not at all. This also proves his criminal record in the UAE.

Before moving to the UAE, Rashid Hussain was involved in the November 2018 attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi and facilitated the attack by paying terrorists. The question is, “Why did he flee to the UAE immediately after the terrorist attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in November 2018?” If Rashid Brohi was innocent of the serious charge of involvement in the Chinese Consulate attack, why did he not appear in court to prove his innocence?

He was convicted by the Karachi CTD Court in April 2020 for his involvement in the Chinese Consulate attack. He could have appeared in court to prove his innocence but he did not. He was declared a fugitive for not appearing in court. These fictitious claims are only to gain the sympathy and attention of international human rights organizations and to protect terrorists involved in heinous crimes of terrorism.

  1. Radicalization and Escalation

Social Identity Theory predicts that in-group favoritism can lead to radicalization when the group is convinced that it is under threat. In the context of ultra-nationalism, radicalization may manifest as an escalation of tactics, potentially involving violence and human rights violations as survival mechanisms. The portrayal of the group as victims can serve as a recruitment tool, attracting sympathizers who may be drawn to the cause due to a perceived sense of injustice.

The latest press conference of a former commander of BLA Sarfaraz Bengalzai is enough to understand the factor of Radicalization and Escalation who exposed the false propaganda in the name of the missing person which is being spread by the anti-national elements. He informed the media persons in a live press conference that the BLA movement while sitting in Afghanistan had been involved in killing innocent people, abducting people, and investing human foreign funding, allegedly by Indian agencies to radicalize Baloch youth. He also indicated that several missing persons were those who were killed inside Afghanistan in intra-conflicts or were killed while crossing the Pak-Afghan border. As far as missing persons are concerned, the Commission for Missing Persons has been functioning since March 1, 2011. According to the data of this commission, the number of registered cases is 10014, the number of decided cases is 7749 and the number of outstanding cases is 2265, whose disappearance has not been proved yet. The Commission of Inquiry is working diligently and its progress is encouraging, but many cases are either old or difficult to trace. Most of the missing persons are those who have been killed in Pakistan’s border areas of Afghanistan and Syria in the past two decades.

Namaz e Janaza of Captain Muhammad Fahad Khan, who embraced shahadat yesterday in IED Blast near Kahan Balochistan, was offered at Army Graveyard Rawalpindi, today. CJCSC General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and a large number of senior civil and military officers, soldiers, citizens and relatives of shaheed attended the Namaz e Janaza. Shaheed was buried with full military honour.
Namaz e Janaza of Captain Muhammad Fahad Khan, who embraced shahadat in an IED Blast near Kahan Balochistan, was offered at Army Graveyard Rawalpindi.
CJCSC General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and a large number of senior civil and military officers, soldiers, citizens, and relatives of shaheed attended the Namaz e Janaza.
Shaheed was buried with full military honor.

It may be remembered that Gulzar Imam Shanbe, a militant leader who has been the head of his outfit and who massacred people contacted Pakistani authorities some months ago and expressed his guilt and demanded the state to allow him to leave aimless anti-state activities. Gulzar Imam like Sarfraz Bangalzai has been allowed by the state to forget the past and move on to the future where they can be useful citizens of Pakistan. Both former commanders explained in detail that propaganda of anti-national elements is based on lies, misinformation, and statements spread through social media without verification leading to distortion of facts.

There is a dire need to propagate scientifically and effectively what is happening in Balochistan as a global scenario because there is one-sided propaganda that is against the state of Pakistan available in Western media. Alas, the state of Pakistan is using redundant tools for the propagation of truth while adversaries have the best of the best minds, resources, and researchers to portray the state of Pakistan as a villain and suicide bombers and terrorists as national heroes. We need to come out of redundant techniques of propagation if we really desire to contest state-of-the-art propaganda against us

Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch

 

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