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Fragile Federation of Pakistan

Rehaan Baloch

This is the first article of two-part series on this topic.

Pakistan is a federal state with four provinces. Federal system is adopted in order to cope with the problems of heterogeneity, multi nationalism and multi cultural nature of Pakistani society. Federalism was the ultimate choice of the founder of Pakistan because it was impossible for a unitary state to govern the affairs of multi cultural and multi lingual country. Federalism remained one of the main agenda and an integral part of every constitution framed for the state of Pakistan. All the provinces; Balochistan, NWFP (now KPK), Sindh and Punjab have their own historical identity and political structure. They are awarded constitutional powers and autonomy to legislate on different issues related to regional affairs. This command is ensured to preserve their identity, norms and traditions from being jeopardized in diverse and multi ethnic society.  The dust and debris of federalism soon disappeared from the political scenario and this process remained intact.

Autonomy, general consensus, independence of judiciary, devolution, decentralization, mutual cooperation, consultation and equality are the fundamental principles and the essential ingredients of federalism. Without any above mentioned constituents, federalism will bound to experience a collapse. Thus, the formation of strong and stable modern federalism is the very pre-requisite of civil society. United States of America would have failed and would have not survived if she hadn’t comprehended the true essence of federalism. In spite, of many crisis and heterogeneity Americans strictly adhered to the philosophy of federalism to deal with different kinds of national and regional affairs.

Federalism had been one of foremost features of Objective Resolution and all other charters and constitutions drafted in Pakistan. Federalism in Pakistan is in fact in evolutionary process. The real hurdle in development and progress of federalism had been military rule in Pakistan. Pakistan remained under the rule of dictators for decades. An era of centralization of powers, ushered in by the dictators in Pakistan which denied the provinces their legitimate and constitutional provisions. The implementation of true Federalism had been delayed and denied. The growing trends of regionalism and demands for provincial autonomy had been corollary to the centralization of powers in Pakistan.  Apart from centralized federal government in Pakistan the domination of one province over all the others smaller provinces witnessed which had been refuted by oppressed and subjugated nations. Balochs, Pushtoons and Sindhis believe that their identity is at the stake and they are living under the hegemonic domination and oppression of Punjab. In a multi-national state and a federal structure the question of all the nationalities are considered and dealt in an appropriate manner without any discrimination. This resulted in marginalization of smaller nations and which broadens the gap between centre and provinces. The question of national integration remained the main problem of Pakistan throughout history.

The history of Pakistan has been experiencing an emerging tendency of regionalism and different national consciousness growing in order to protect and shield their historical identities. The yearning of Balochs to safeguard their culture, language, norms, values, traditions, identity and territory contributed the political movements which give way to a resistances and uprisings. Balochistan was very fertile to start such a movement resisting the oppressive policies of central government and secondly the people of Balochistan were more conscious to oppose any unjust action of central government tooth and nail. If a glimpse is casted in the history of Pakistan, Balochistan suffered a lot in the struggle for gaining more autonomy: political and economic rights. It is not blinking of the fact that Balochistan had been annexed by force and ruled as a colony. The Balochs highly detested the marginalization and authoritarianism by a particular nation within a State. The decades old confrontation between Balochistan and federation is because of the domination of one majority national i.e. Punjab in Pakistan. Since independent and accession of Balochistan as a part of Pakistan, Islamabad ruled Balochistan with blood and iron policy. Furthermore, regular military interventions also contributed to make centre more powerful and more authoritarian in nature.

The emergence of Baloch nationalism was because of sense of deprivation and denying Balochs their constitutional rights. The Baloch ethno nationalism begot the notion of a separate home land for Balochs, which irritated the federation of Pakistan. The idea of ‘Greater Balochistan’ crumbled the pillar of federation in Pakistan. Military had been considered as the real tool to crush such types of sentiments and to solve the national issues. Baloch national problem in Pakistan remained an unresolved agenda of every constitution.  They had been unsuccessful to bring a permanent solution of Balochistan problem.  The constitutional provisions had been violated by military rulers time by time. The dilemma of democracy and failure of federalism in Pakistan give birth to different kinds of peripheral politics and anti state tendencies.

Balochistan is the largest federating unit of Pakistan. It constitutes 44% of Pakistan’s geography. It is known for its strategic importance and richness in minerals and mines. The natural resources of Balochistan never been utilized for the progress and prosperity of its own people rather drained to run the industries of Punjab and Sindh. This act of central government brought mistrust and distrust among the Baloch nationalist leaders and Baloch masses. This was all because of lack of provincial autonomy and central government control over Balochistan resources. They had been failed to build consensus based division of natural resources. Some nationalists called Baloch resistance movement as to have complete and full proof control over Balochistan’s resources. Central government is reluctant to bring socio-economic reforms in Balochistan and never pay heed to address its genuine grievances. Since independence Balochistan had been neglected and issues mishandled by the central government which added the tension and transformed it to be a glaring threat to federation. The federal government by no means appeared with a concrete arrangement for alleviating provincial differences. The decades-old distrust would have been wiped away by taking steps in right direction with sincerity and mutual cooperation.

 (To be Continued)

Published in The Balochistan Point on January 26, 2016

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and The Balochistan Point not necessarily agrees with them.

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