Translation by: Abdullah Baloch
According to the father of Political Science, Machiavelli, there are two ways to rule: a ruler should either rule by love or by fear. He further added that a wise ruler should adopt both methods (love and fear) in order to rule smoothly, but if a government has only one choice, then it should opt to rule by fear instead of love. When one analyses the style of governance of the Iranian government in Western Balochistan, then it will be proved that the Iranian government has always preferred the use of fear and violence as a method of governing Western Balochistan.
Selig Harrison, an American writer, has authored a book on the political situations of Eastern and Western Balochistan during the Cold War. While writing his book, he interviewed various Pakistani and Iranian Baloch leaders as well as Pakistani and Iranian officials. Regarding these interviews, he wrote, “After conducting several interviews, I observed that racial hatred between the Baloch leadership and Iranian authorities is much higher than the racial enmity between the Baloch leaders and Pakistani elites.” He opined that the reason for this could be that the issue between the Baloch and the Punjabi elite is merely thirty years old while the enmity between the Baloch and the Persians is spanning over a history of approximately two thousand years.
These two (Baloch and Persians) have been confronting each other for a longer period of time. Persians are deemed by Baloch as cowards and people belonging to an inferior race, hence they don’t deserve to rule the Baloch. On the other hand, Persians consider themselves as socially and culturally more advanced than their Arab and Baloch neighbors. Persian view Baloch as barbaric and consider their rule on Baloch as a blessing for the uncivilised Baloch.
What Selig Harrison penned down about the animosity between Baloch and Persians seems to be valid by the writing of some Iranian scholars about Baloch and vice versa. The writings of these Persian scholars have been copy-pasted word-to-word by the authorities of the Punjab Text Book Board. In these plagiarised books of the Punjab Board, Baloch have been described as: “A wild tribe lives in the eastern side of Indus River which robs caravans and they usually fight among themselves and at the time of the foreign invasion, they get united”.
Like Iranian Scholars, Baloch intellectuals have also expressed their abhorrence for Iranians (Persians) in their writings and accused the Persian King, Nosherwan Adil of the Baloch genocide. It was the British who made present Western Balochistan a part of Iran in 1871. At that time, Western Balochistan was ruled by a local Baloch dynasty belonging to the Narohi tribe. This dynasty was nominally under the rule of Kalat State but practically it was independent.
Inayath Ullah Baloch writes down in his book that when the British decided to give control of Western Balochistan to Iran, then local Baloch rulers asked the British government to reconsider their plans. They argued that Baloch and Persians are bitter rivals of each other for ages and they can’t live together in a single state. Therefore, they demanded from the British government that they should be either accepted as a part of Kalat State or should be given the status of ‘British Protectorate’.
Jay Ramsey, an officer of the British government, writes about the hatred between the Baloch and Persians in these words: “Balochistan is nominally under the administration of Iranian Governor who sits in Kirman. However, for fifteen years he has not set his feet on this dangerous land as he is disliked by the masses. He is considered an alien on the basis of race, language, and religion by the local population. The governor also doesn’t like the people of Balochistan, so the dislike is mutual”.
The population of Western Balochistan has never regarded themselves as a part of Iran and they have always tried to take advantage of the internal civil wars of Iran. In the 1920s, when the power struggle between Pahlavi and Qajar dynasties resulted in civil war, Dost Muhammad Baranzai announced the independence of Western Balochistan and took the title of Shah-e-Balochistan. Dost Muhammad Baranzai requested the British government to recognize his government but it was rejected by the British on the ground that he has a close relationship with the communist Russian government.
In 1928, Raza Shah demolished the rule of the Qajar dynasty and became the king of Iran. He used Western fighter jets to end the rule of Dost Muhammad Baranzai. It was the first time in the history of Iran that the government conducted airstrikes on the general population.
Montserrat Guibernau, a professor at the Queen Mary University of London, explains when there is excessive use of force against a nation, then at that time, the national consciousness of such nations often increases. The bombardment of Raza Shah and atrocities by the Qajar dynasty must have played a massive role in generating and increasing the national consciousness of Baloch in Western Balochistan.
Muhammad Raza Shah Pahlavi became the new king of Iran after Raza Shah. He was more sensitive than any other Persian rulers of the past regarding Western Balochistan. He took a number of measures to root out the national identity of the Baloch. He imposed a ban on the Balochi language in government departments and in educational institutions. Wearing a Balochi dress was also not allowed in public places. The boundaries of Balochistan were re-demarcated with an aim of bringing a demographic change. He gave away different parts of Balochistan to other provinces. A portion of Balochistan was placed in the Kirman province and another portion was given to Hormozan. Sistani and other Persian ethnicities were settled in Balochistan. He also changed the name of Balochistan. Firstly, he renamed it Balochistan wa Sistan, but later on, he declared it as Sistan wa Balochistan.
Persians were appointed to key posts in the province and Baloch were deliberately kept behind socially and educationally. The head of the Mubaraki tribe, Dad Shah Baloch, resisted the Iranian government for its injustices and carried out attacks on the Iranian soldiers throughout Western Balochistan. Due to these repeated assaults, the Iranian Government got annoyed and announced a bounty of one million dollars for Dad Shah. He was killed in 1959 in an attack by Iranian security forces. Iranian government called him an ordinary ‘Bandit’. However, he was regarded as a national hero by the Baloch scholars.
The national movement, which was started by Dad Shah Baloch, didn’t end after his demise. It was continued by a former official of Radio Karachi named Jumma Khan who was inspired by Dad Shah Baloch. It is held that he was supported by multiple Arab countries such as the Iraq and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) of Yasir Arafat. The organization, which was established by Jumma Khan, used to ambush the security forces of Raza Shah Pahlavi and as a result, Raza Shah Pahlavi felt more nervous about Balochistan. He was not only insecure about Western Balochistan but he was also worried about Eastern Balochistan (Pakistani Balochistan).
When National Awami Party (NAP), a nationalist party, came to power in Pakistani Balochistan in 1970, then at that time, the Shah of Iran suggested the Pakistani establishment and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to dismiss the Government of NAP. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto admitted in his interview that the Shah of Iran adopted an aggressive attitude for eliminating the government of NAP (National Awami Party) and he (Shah) advised him that the government of the Baloch nationalists does not only pose a threat to Iran but it is equally dangerous for Pakistan as well. When Bhutto dismissed the government of nationalists in Balochistan, an insurgency took place in Balochistan and according to the confession of Bhutto, Raza Shah Pahlavi provided his government with financial and military help even more than what he promised for crushing the rebellion.
Veteran Baloch leader, Ghous Bakhsh Bizanjo, writes in his book regarding this that “During their government, an insurgency was going on in Western Balochistan and Shah resorted to a high-handed policy for quelling the uprising. Protests against the Shah’s brutalities were held throughout Pakistani Balochistan and Baloch-populated areas of Karachi. The pictures of the Shah of Iran were torn in Iranian hotels in Karachi by the Baloch protesters. A massive number of members from NAP and BSO (Baloch Students Organisation) were arrested after these events. Bhutto was well-aware of the emotions of the people of Balochistan but still, he invited the sister of Raza Shah Pahlavi, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, to Quetta for a state visit in order to put pressure upon our government. I and Sardar Attah Ullah Mengal were of the opinion that Bhutto has called her to Quetta under a conspiracy so that an unpleasant scene may happen in Quetta and he will get an opportunity for getting rid of our government. Before the arrival of the princess to Quetta, I advised the members of NAP and BSO that they should control their feelings and emotions and adhere to the custom of the hospitality of Balochistan.”
The sensitivity of Shah regarding Balochistan could be gauged from the interview he gave to New York Times when Bangladesh was split from Pakistan. Shah said in his interview with the New York Times that if the rest of Pakistan ceased to exist, then he will take the control of Pakistani Balochistan.
After Iranian Revolution, when Ayatollah Khomeini came into power, his attitude was not different towards the Baloch. The only difference was that a religious Persian had taken the place of a secular Persian and the place of Dad Shah was filled by Abdul Malik Reki who continued his resistance against Iranian authority.
Some days ago, a tragedy occurred on the Gold Smith Line in which 37 Baloch were murdered by the indiscriminate firing of the Revolutionary Guards. After this, a series of protests and demonstrations were kicked off throughout Western Balochistan, and to bring things under control, the number of Iranian security forces were doubled throughout Western Balochistan.
Hence, it is proven again that there is no change in the method of the ruling of the Iranian government in Balochistan. Iranian authority still prefers the policy of Machiavelli for managing things in Balochistan. With these heavy-handed policies, the national consciousness of people in Western Balochistan will intensify: they will not get merged into mainstream Iran and will maintain their separate national identity like the Kurds.
Perhaps the last hope of people in Western Balochistan will be that Iran has many enemies in the world and America and its proxy, NATO, will launch a Yugoslavian and Iraq-style attack on Iran after which Western Balochistan will be given semi-autonomous status under the American-supported Iranian regime or they may get complete independence.