A while ago I came across an article titled Untold Story of Pashtoons in Balochistan published in The Laaltain magazine. Having some serious disagreements on the facts and opinion mentioned in the article, I am writing this rebuttal so that readers can get to know the other side of the story. This writing is not meant to target anyone; it is just a modest effort on my part to clear some misconceptions and undo the distortion of some basic facts.
I am an ardent supporter of the rights of all ethnic nationalities including Pashtoons. I believe that smaller ethnic nationalities in Pakistan have been denied their due rights since 1947 through a framework of centralized political system. Pashtoons are also among the groups that have been suppressed and deprived of their rights. The primary responsibility of such deprivation lies with the state institutions, and not with the other nationalities such as Baloch.
The said article’s statement that around 7.5 million Pashtoons are living in Balochistan is a misstatement of mythical proportions. The entire population of Balochistan is estimated to be around 8 million; out of which 65 percent are Baloch and 30 percent are Pashtoons according to the Pakistan statistical yearbook.[i] Secondly there are 9 Pashtoon districts, 19 Baloch districts, while Quetta and Sibi have mixed populations. Pashtoons constitute a substantial part of population in Balochistan. However the assertion that half of population of Balochistan is ethnically Pashtoon, while Baloch population is less than half of the total population of the province, is far from reality. It must be noted that any demographic claim about Balochistan should not include Afghan refugees as they are not Pakistani citizens.
It’s true that before partition current day Balochistan was divided into two parts i.e. Qalat state and Chief Commissioner’s Province or British Balochistan. Qalat state consisted entirely of ethnically Baloch people while British Balochistan had both Baloch and Pashtoon populations. British Balochistan had Baloch districts of Naushki, Chagai, Bolan and Nasirabad and mixed population districts of Quetta and Sibi. Therefore it’s wildly untrue to say that British Balochistan was a Pashtoon only province. After partition Pashtoon districts were merged with Baloch districts to form current Balochistan but there was never a Pashtoon only province in the history of this region. It is also incorrect to say that under One Unit rule Quetta division consisted of Pashtoon majority areas only. It included Baloch majority areas of British Balochistan as well and therefore it consisted of mixed population of Pashtoon and Baloch. This argument is substantiated by the fact that in 1960, Nawab Khair Baksh Marri, a Baloch leader, was elected from Quetta division as member of National Assembly.
I would also question the racist undertones of a statement in the said article which declares that Baloch people consider Punjabis and Hazaras as invaders while Pashtoons consider them guests. One has to completely discard the reality to believe such baseless statements. The fact is that all of these mentioned communities have been living harmoniously in Balochistan until General Pervez Musharraf forced Balochistan into an armed insurgency. The Baloch civil society has always condemned the killing of innocent Punjabi settlers in Balochistan.
As far as the question of new census is concerned, Baloch people have no issue with it provided it is fair and Afghan refugees are not included in it. Believing that Afghan refugees can be used to multiply the Pashtoon population is like turning one’s eyes, like ostriches, away from reality. Afghan refugees are not Pakistani citizens hence they are not entitled to be counted in any census.
As to the question of proportionate representation and share in government jobs and education, I believe Pashtoons are getting their due share according to their population ratio. And in some cases they are getting more than that. Provincial bureaucracy is considerably filled with Pashtoons. Pashtoons are entitled to get their due share in provincial setup but it is unwise and unfair to demand equal share for Pashtoons while Baloch are in considerable numerical majority.
No wonder Pashtoons have also been deprived of their rights but it is not the Baloch who are culprit in this case. Baloch are themselves victims of suppression and deprivation at the hands of federal government. The fact that both nationalities are victims at the hands of the state should always remain the cornerstone of any debate regarding Baloch-Pashtoon issue in Balochistan. If Pashtoons want to form their own province then Baloch would never have any problem with that. However it should also not be forgotten that whatever funds and resources Pashtoon population of Balochistan is getting from the Provincial revenue are mainly earned from Baloch areas, e.g. Sui Gas, Gwadar Port etc.
Baloch and Pashtoons have always lived side by side as brothers and till today they live in harmony. There are some miscreants who want to sabotage this harmony for their personal vested interests. Such elements should not be allowed to pursue their vested interests at the cost of inter-ethnic and provincial harmony.
"Adnan Aamir is a Freelance writer and Blogger. He tweets at @iAdnanAamir”