Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Baloch Conflict with Iran and Pakistan — book review

By Hassan Hamdam
Image result for The Baloch Conflict with Iran and PakistanIn his latest book, ‘The Baloch conflict with Iran and Pakistan: aspects of a national liberation struggle’, Dr. Naseer Dashti traces the history of Baloch national struggle in Iran and Pakistan. The book offers rich insight into the past and present political games played by various powers affecting the Baloch sovereignty and national integrity. In many ways, it is the continuation of what was left behind in author’s earlier book, ‘The Baloch and Balochistan’.  
The history of the world is full of stories of conquerors, dynasties and great empires that committed mass killings, genocides and occupation of the lands of weaker nations. In majority of the historical accounts, the powerful are glorified, and the miseries suffered by the weaker and defeated people are mentioned in passing, and their struggle to defend their land, dignity and honour against the aggressors is depicted as evil. That is what has happened to the Baloch in the books written by the victors.
It has become very difficult to unearth the correct account of the Baloch, as their history has been deliberately mutilated by writers and academics of occupying powers. For the Baloch, the irony is that those who invaded their land, slaughtered their men and women, and enslaved children became their heroes and their children are forced to sing songs of praise for them.
In the context of conquerors and conquered, to read between the lines in the history accounts of conquerors, and try to do justice by bringing a factual narrative of events is hard; nevertheless, there are certain individuals who have taken upon themselves the hard job of scrutinizing the biased version of events. Those who choose this hard and difficult path perhaps have a great reason for their decision. They perhaps believe that it will benefit a larger national cause. For some, it is perhaps to pay their share of debt to the nation and motherland, and perhaps for Dashti no path is hard. His earlier books caused him tremendous problems and he ended up being a refugee in the United Kingdom.
In this book, Dashti provides significant insight into Baloch issues with Iran and Pakistan. He also takes a deeper look into the ups and downs of Baloch resistance from the Pahlavi/Ayatollah’s Iran to the ‘God-gifted’ country of Pakistan, providing a wider picture of historical happenings, and suffering of the Baloch people in both countries. The book describes the role of different parties, individuals, and groups involved in the national struggle of the Baloch.
The first part of the book navigates briefly through the history of the Baloch where they survived the onslaught of mighty Sassanid Empire, the Arab occupation of the Iranian Plateau, and the aggressions of medieval Persian and Turkic dynasties who ruled Iran after the collapse of the Arab rule. The book unfolds the story from a wandering Baloch becoming a nation, preserving a vast land called Balochistan, and establishing its control over this large area for hundreds of years. The Baloch struggle during the Qajar dynasty and the arrival of mighty European powers in the region are among the major happenings in the tortuous history of the Baloch. The author explores the far-reaching impacts of the “Great Game” on Balochistan which was played during the 19th century by the Russians and the British in Central Asia and the Middle East, with the resultant division of the Baloch land and weakening their power. The Baloch resistance during 1920s-1970s is the story of the uprising in Balochistan against the Pahlavi regime of Iran.
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