Baloch Culture Day
By Sajjad Shaukat
Baloch Cultural Day is being celebrated on March 2 every year with the aim to highlight and promote the diversified and rich Balochi culture. This very day is being commemorated not only in various districts of the Balochistan province, but also throughout the country besides in Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and India. The Visionary Group of Gwadar, involved in developing, construction and social services in Balochistan, has taken the initiative of highlighting and promoting Balochi culture and language beyond the borders of Pakistan.
Various shows including musical programmes are being organised in various cities and towns of
Balochistan, Sindh and Balochi speaking districts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
On the occasion, various processions of youth, students and people from all walks of life would be taken out from various parts of the provincial capital of Balochistan with distinctive Balochi dress, turban and embroided dresses.
Celebration of the said event started during 2011. Baloch community in Pakistan and abroad organizes various programmes to highlight different shades of Baloch culture/traditions. Appreciable media coverage of various programmes also gets coverage in local and domestic media.
The strong traditions and cultural values are important to Baloch people and have enabled them to keep their distinctive ancient cultural identity and way of life with little change to this day.
The culture and traditions of the Baloch have historically been passed down from mother to daughter and from father to son. Baloch people have preserved their traditional dress with little change over the centuries. The Baloch men wear long shirts with long sleeves and loose pants. The dress is occasionally accompanied by a pagh (turban) or a hat on their heads.
Last year, various musical, cultural and literary ceremonies were held in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan in connection with the Baloch Culture Day—ceremonies were also organised in other countries where Balochs are residing, including Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai, Muscat, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and India. In Quetta, a huge ceremony to mark Baloch Culture Day was held at Balochistan Arts Council which was attended by hundreds of people, including women and children dressed in typical Balochi dress. Cultural and musical shows were held at Arts Council where youngsters and children exhibited their talent by singing Balochi songs and performing Balochi dance. “This is a big day for us. We are excited and proud of our culture and tradition which teach us love, tolerance and bravery”, said Ibrahim Rakhshani, a 28-year-old young man wearing a Balochi turban and trouser with typical Balochi shoes. Yar Muhammad Badini, a Baloch intellectual and researcher says, Balochi literature is the best way to understand Baloch people and their culture. “Balochi culture and language have its own uniqueness and richness which needs to be promoted in the country,” he stressed, adding, that Baloch people besides in Pakistan were also residing in different other countries particularly in Iran, Afghanistan, Oman, East Africa and Turkmenistan. “Baloch woman dress is also recognised as national woman dress of Oman,” he added. However, he does not seem satisfy with the efforts of government to promote Balochi language and culture in the country. “Balochi language is one of those languages which is struggling hard for its survival and needs immediate focus of government,” he added. Meanwhile, Baloch Culture Day was also celebrated in other towns of Balochistan, including Nushki, Turbat, Gwadar, Mastung, Chagai, Sibi, Naseerabad and Jaffarabad where different musical and cultural shows were organised to mark.
During this vary day, it is also of particular attention that since, the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province, peace has been restored in the province.
However, civil, federal and provincial governments are making strenuous efforts to restore peace and order in the province. For this purpose, a paramilitary committee has also been formed by the ruling party to hold negotiations with the disgruntled elements. And Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif also supports political settlement—general pardon to the insurgents in Balochistan, so that, development works including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which would bring unlimited benefits to the province and its people must be completed.
Although in the recent years, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have been saying that foreign hands are behind the insurgency in Balochistan province in order to destabilize Pakistan, yet army chief’s clear statement in this respect is notable.
During his visit to Quetta, Gen. Raheel Sharif on April 15, last year warned foreign forces and spy agencies against destabilizing Pakistan by supporting insurgents in Balochistan. Gen. Raheel elaborated, “Army will continue supporting the Balochistan government till terrorism is wiped out…those found involved in funding and facilitating terrorists will be dealt with iron hands.”
Now, the Balolch people know about a foreign conspiracy against Balochistan. A majority of the Baloch persons have understood that Balochistan’s mineral resources and geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia have further annoyed the US and India because China has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is due to multiple strategic designs that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008 seeks to dismember both Pakistan and Iran.
They are well aware of the fact that with the tactical support of American CIA and Israeli Mossad, Indian RAW has continuously been assisting the Baloch separatist groups and Baloch Sub Nationalists to conduct subversive acts—and using terrorist elements in Balochistan to threat Chinese interest in the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. And, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret agencies have been funding and arranging subversive activities in other parts of Pakistan—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan.
It is mentionable that as a result of the general elections 2013, the government led by the nationalist leader Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch was established in Balochistan, while on December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were largely held in a peaceful manner in the province. These elections proved that majority of the Baloch are loyal to the federation, and have rejected the case of separatists, being projected by foreign forces which are destabilizing Pakistan by supporting anti-state elements in Balochistan.
Notably, in the recent years, Pak Army has made strenuous efforts to develop the infrastructure in Balochistan by providing the people employment opportunities to bring the Balochis in the mainstream of the country. For the purpose, army has not only established schools and colleges in Balochistan, but also set up technical and industrial institutes in the province, besides giving military training to the youth.
Various development projects and progressive works, undertaken by Army in Balochistan are Military College SUI Balochistan, Balochistan Public School at SUI, Quetta Institute of Medical Sciences, Gwadar Institute of Technology, Chamalang Beneficiary Education Program, Balochistan Institute of Technical Education, Army Institute of Mineralogy, Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Baloch Youth Enrollment in Pakistan Army, Dera Bugti Development Projects, Development Projects Kohlu and Nasirabad Division, and Pakistan Army Assistance in Development of Road Networks including Assistance to Ministry of Education Balochistan, Provision of Free Gas & Water, Construction of 50 Bed Hospital at SUI, Chamalang, Musa Khel & Dukki Coal Mines, KASSA Hill Marble Project, Dates Farming at Panjgur, Garrison & Musa Sports Complex, Free Medical Camps, Earthquake 2008 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, Flood 2010 and Pak Army Relief & Rehabilitation Efforts, and many other similar projects and provision of services.
Nevertheless, army’s positive steps will increase income of the Baloch youth and reduce their dependence on sardars who are working on the agenda of some foreign powers. Now patriot Balochis have come to know that Pak Army is neither mercenary nor occupying force; while external-backed insurgency has hampered the growth and development of the province. They also know that the province lacked engineers and skilled workers. In this respect, measures of Pak Army have been ensuring local enterprise, local manpower and local skill among the Baloshis.
In 2011, I had visited Balochistan along with other journalists. I saw a number of institutes, set up by army, and these were providing especially technical training to thousands of Balochis. I had also a trip to far-flung areas of the province and witnessed various mega projects and mineral sites. I was greatly surprised that no military operation is going on in Balochistan as propagated by the foreign elements. People told me that some subversive events are taking place by the minority separatist elements so as to create instability in the province.
No doubt, army’s progressive role through numerous schemes and projects for the development of Balochistan will change the fortune of the Baloch people very soon, which is likely to castigate the foreign conspiracy against the province.
It is worth-mentioning that Balochistan had been hit in the past by some phenomenally devastating calamities like floods of 1950, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1992, 2000, 2010, 2011 and 2012, drought of 2000 and cyclone of 2007. The real saviors of people of Balochistan were Armed Forces and FC which quickly responded to the call of duty by extending helping hand to fellow countrymen, conducted exceptionally dangerous rescue missions and provided relief to the victims. Similarly, on September 24, 2013, Awaran district of Balochistan was hit by an earthquake. Pakistan Army and FC promptly acted as asked for by the government. Although FC personnel located in the area were equally struck by the earthquake, yet they were the first ones to respond to the situation. And the Army units hastily moved from Khuzdar and Karachi.
Nonetheless, the every Pakistani must celebrate the Baloch Culture Day with full zeal by giving importance to the Balochi traditions.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations