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Pakistan killing our Intellectuals and History, says Baloch freedom activist Mazdak Dilshad Baloch

Most of the Baloch leaders and intellectuals are either dead, underground or have fled Pakistan fearing for their life

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Map of Pakistan. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

– by Kushagra Dixit

New Delhi, August 28, 2016: An “identity crisis” looms before the Baloch people as Pakistan is killing their intellectuals and strategically suppressing their history, says a Baloch freedom activist, adding that they will “not let Pakistan take our cultural identity from us”.

According to prominent Baloch freedom movement activist Mazdak Dilshad Baloch, the lullabies of Baloch mothers “are the only source of the history lesson for the new generation” of their people.

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“As per Pakistani textbooks, Balochistan is a barbaric nation and Baloch people are barbarians who fight among themselves. That’s what they (Pakistan) teach their kids, a manipulated history of Balochistan,” Mazdak told IANS.

The issue of manipulated history in textbooks was also raised in the Pakistan Parliament earlier this year, after the 12th standard sociology books defined Baloch as “uncivilised people who engage in murder and looting”.

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“There is a total crackdown on journalists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, students. The figure of missing people has crossed 25,000 and about 25 Baloch journalists have been killed. They are killing our intellectuals, educated ones who could take us forward in the future,” said Mazdak, who was in the Indian capital.

He said most of the Baloch leaders and intellectuals are either dead, underground or have fled Pakistan fearing for their life.

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Terming the Pakistani media a “puppet” and Pakistan an “artificial nation”, the young activist who was in Delhi to garner the support of Indians and Baloch people, said, “Our history is being suppressed and this is part of their strategy. Baloch people are voiceless and Pakistani media can’t help us”.

“They are confining our 700-year-old history to 70 years which is not even ours. Our children are told that Jinnah was our founder, while it was Mir Miro Baloch who founded the kingdom of Balochistan in 1410,” Mazdak said, adding that while Baloch people love education, they resist the Pakistani syllabus.

“They teach us about Ahmed Shah Abdali. He was a great person in history and should be celebrated by Afghans. We have nothing to do with him, Sher Shah Suri, Mahmood Gaznavi or Mughals. You can’t just snatch someone else’s history and make it your own.

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“We have our own history, culture, and lifestyle. You can see our clothes and carpets — they have the same pattern and geometry as were in Mehergarh (an ancient site in Balochistan). Our historic fingerprints are still intact. Our culture and language is never dying and we will not let Pakistan take it from us,” Mazdak said.

He also speaks of Hindu shrines in Balochistan including the famed Hinglaj or Nani Mandir.

“Hindus in Balochistan are not Indian or Pakistani, they are Baloch Hindus. We have been protecting and celebrating the centuries-old legacy. The town of Mastung, where I come from, has a Mahadev temple. We protect and respect them because it’s part of our heritage,” he said.

“All around the world mothers would tell their children a fairy tale. But a Baloch mother while putting her child to sleep tells about how the forefathers got this land, this is how they fought and got martyred. So this is how the children there are brought up. This is how a sense of sovereignty is inherited in their blood,” he explained.

Asked why he opposes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project that allows China to access the Gwadar Port in Balochistan from its western province of Xinjiang, the activist in exile called it “a conspiracy to loot our resources”.

“We are not against economic activities or anything that would uplift the economic condition of the region, but for this, they have to talk to Baloch, not the people in Lahore. It is a conspiracy to loot our resources as with this move there is no economic benefit to the Baloch people,” he said.

“Army and government of Pakistan only want our land and our resources.”

Saying that while they want to nurture a free Balochistan as a “democratic”, “secular” and “gender-balanced” nation, Mazdak calls Pakistan an “artificial country”.

“If they (Pakistan) teach correct history then people will ask why it even got separated from India, with which it shares history. Even ethnically and genetically they are same. This shows how ignorant Pakistan is and what kind of artificial country it is,” he said. (IANS)

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Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)