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  • Writer's pictureJeffrey Ram

PAKISTANI EMPIRE’S COLONIES WANT FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY

THE FORMER BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE’S COLONIES WANT FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY PART 2- PAKISTAN

Toronto, Canada      Jeffrey S. Ram, Editor February 23, 2024

Image: The map of Pakistan

 

 Modern India and Pakistan are the successors of the British Indian Empire. They also inherited the British Empire’s centralized colonial government, protected by its well-disciplined army and police force. The Indian and Pakistani federal governments continue to treat their constituent states and regions like colonies. As in India, so in Pakistan also. the freedom fighters of many regional, linguistic, and cultural groups have waged wars for independence, and some continue the freedom struggle.

  On February 8, 2024, most Pakistanis voted in defiance of the Pakistan army against its chosen Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League. PML won only 75 out of 265 National Assembly seats. Thus, Pakistani voters proved they wanted liberation from the cruel army rule.

 One option for India and Pakistan to maintain unity, harmony, and peace is to adopt the European Union model to provide a more equitable distribution of power and resources to their states and regions. 

EAST PAKISTAN’S FREEDOM FIGHTERS SUCCEEDED IN ESTABLISHING BANGLADESH AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION

 Pakistan was formed based on Islamic nationalism, but religion alone was not enough to hold the nation together. The partition of India divided Bengal between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s part of Bengal was known as East Bengal until 1955 and then as East Pakistan. Economic inequality between the two parts of Pakistan and the systemic oppression gave rise to ethno-nationalistic politics in East Pakistan.

  Sheikh Mujibur Rahman led the fight for independence. He received the support of the Indian army in the civil war between the two parts. This civil war resulted in the freedom of East Pakistan and the birth of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in 1971.  

THE BALOCH LIBERATION FRONT (BLF) IN BALOCHISTAN

 Image: The Baloch families blame the army for the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of thousands of people.

 

 The Baloch Liberation Front was formed as a separatist group in 1964. It aims to establish a separate nation of Balochistan, independent of Pakistan and Iran. The Pakistani and British governments declared BLA as a terrorist group in 2006.

 Pakistan government's measures against the Balloch freedom fighters, the use of Islamist militants to crush them, and the army's human rights abuses to terrorize the Balloch people have antagonized many Baloch. Protests against Pakistan's military and resistance to its authority continue.

 The Balloch protest against the Pakistani army's atrocities from time to time. Recently, on December 20, 2023, about 200 protesters who had come to Islamabad to draw attention to their sufferings were subjected to water cannons and batons by the police. Their leaders were arrested to stop their protest. However, the Baloch militancy and resistance have not ended. The Baloch's efforts for autonomy and freedom continue.

THE PASHTUN RESISTANCE

 The referendum organized by the British was limited to joining India or Pakistan. Pashtuns did not have the choice of becoming independent or joining AfghanistanTherefore, a large number of Pashtuns boycotted the referendum.

 After independence, the old British policy of suppressing the Pashtuns continued. After years of lobbying by Pashtun nationalists, the province was renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (or KP) in 2010. 

The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (Pashtun Protection Movement) was founded as Mahsud Tahafuz Movement in May 2014. In January 2018, it started a movement seeking justice for Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was murdered in a fake encounter by police in Karachi. Thousands of Pashtuns participated in the Pashtun Long March. To include all Pashtuns, the name "Mahsud" was changed to "Pashtun" in February 2018. The initial name, "Mahsud," was about the Mahsud tribe from Waziristan.

 The PTM anthem Da Sanga Azadi Da (of what use is this freedom) and their famous slogan "ye jo dehshatgardi hai, iske peechche wardi hai" (Those in uniform are behind terrorism) inspire Pashtuns.

 The PTM claims that it is peaceful, and its demands are within the limits of Pakistan's law. The Army considers the PTM as "anti-state," and "terrorists" financed by foreign powers. Undoubtedly, PTM is the only group that openly challenges the authority of Pakistan's Army. 

 

Pashtun Tahafuz Movement rally in Bannu, 2018

Courtesy: Voice of America-Wikimedia

 

THE “SINDHUDESH” MOVEMENT IN SINDH

 The Sindhudesh, or Sindhi Country, is a movement to create a separate nation independent of Pakistan. However, the separatist and nationalist parties have failed to gain popular support because most Sindhis favor the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), providing them with a democratic option to resolve their grievances.     

 In 2020, the Pakistani government outlawed many separatist and nationalist freedom fighter groups, including the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Aresar group, Sindhudesh Liberation Army, and Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army.

 However, the nationalist voices have not been silenced despite killings by the state agencies of nationalist leaders like Hidayat Lohar, Niaz Lashari, Asif Panhwar, and Munir Cholani.

 

“BALAWARISTAN” IN GILGIT- BALTISTAN

A freedom movement in Gilgit-Baltistan, identified as Balawaristan by its activists, tried to get independence for Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan. This campaign ended or went underground when Abdul Hamid Khan, leader of the Balawaristan National Front (Hameed Group), surrendered unconditionally on February 8 2019.

 Another group, Balawaristan National Front, headed by Nawaz Khan Nazi, wants Gilgit-Baltistan as an autonomous region within Pakistan.

The Pakistani security forces are blamed for custodial torture and intimidation of freedom movement participants. Kashmiris on both sides of the border strive to be independent.

 People’s National Alliance and others have organized many rallies and demonstrations in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, seeking to liberate Kashmir from Pakistan’s control.

THE EUROPEAN UNION MODEL FOR THE INDIAN AND PAKISTAN EMPIRES

 The European Union model is a viable option for the Indian and Pakistani federal governments. In the EU, member states retain their freedom and autonomy while uniting in certain areas for common purposes. The EU model may resolve the federal-state grievances and maintain federal harmony in India and Pakistan.

INDIAN UNION AND PAKISTAN UNION ARE THE ONLY OPTIONS FOR THEIR STATES AND REGIONS IF THEY WANT INDEPENDENT NATIONHOOD

 The federal structures in India and Pakistan have become increasingly centralized, making the states feel marginalized. The European Union model will provide independence and self-rule to the states and regions within a federal union. It will promote cooperation, peace, and economic integration among historically distinct nations of the Indian and Pakistani successor empires of British colonial rule.

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