Today will be registered as a turning point in the political history of Balochistan as for the first time a political leader from Makoran who grew up on his own feet became the first non-Sardar Chief Minster of Balochistan. The political structure of Pakistan is based on tribal oligarchic system where inherited patronage and feudalism are intrinsically intertwined to conspire against the interest of so-called "commoners" or ordinary people. Moreover , unfortunately most parts of Balochistan have never broken out of their tribal social carcasses and outdated clannish shells. Hence the significance of the day.
Dr Abdul Malik Baloch faces many challenges, from barbaric and vicious kill-and-dump policy of Baloch innocents by Pakistani establishment to proxy wars of religious fanatics. From deliberate policies of deprivation of Baloch people to an irreconcilable and fierce armed insurgency, and many more debilitating challenges that he along with other like-minded Baloch in his team will face. However, apart from political rivalries and divergences, many Baloch intellectuals will be intuitively zooming their focus on the reaction of Baloch Sardars, Nawabs and Khans and other feudal and tribal leaders and their traditional supporters towards an ordinary man who has taken on an extraordinary challenge at a taxing time.
In the past intellectuals from Makoran more often than not supported nationalist Sardars and Nawabs in their political endeavours including their desires and aspirations to become chief ministers or governors of Balochistan. Now it is high time, or indeed pay back time, that despite differences, they should prove that they do not see high political office in Balochistan as their inborn and non-negotiable hereditary right; and that they are willing to support a "Commoner from Turbat".
This will be a diagnostic test on their vision of Balochistan in the 21st Century. Moreover those hard-line nationalist Baloch who want to have nothing to do with Pakistan, and settle for nothing less than full independence of Balochistan, must also recognise the significance of the day within the diverse ethnic and tribal context of the troubled Balochistan and refrain from outright and vehement rejection of the new Chief Minister as well as any gratuitous insult or name calling. Occupying the so-called moral high ground, and shouting slogans or firing bullets from the hilltops is not the only resolution to a multifarious and complex problem of Balochistan where when it comes to killings and venomous violence, the Baloch insurgents can not match the brutality of the Pakistani army, intelligence and security forces.
Dr Abdul Malik Baloch too will be judged by history on his achievements as the Chief Minister, so will be the Sardars and Nawabs on their expected gracious, yielding and yet supportive attitude towards this "Commoner". The first good will step in the right direction would be for the Khans, Sardars and Nawabs to restrain their supporters and agents from insulting and attacking Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, and grant him the goodwill and space that he deserves in serving the "Baloch Cause" without rhetoric, extremism or the usual demagoguery . Therefore their reaction and behaviour will be under the radar, and judged accordingly. As the famous song by Sting goes: every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every breath you take, every move you make, I'll be watching you. I am sure the opponents of Dr. Malik would sing the same song about him - which, in my opinion, would be a fair assertion too.
Dr. AbdulSattar Doshouki
Centre for Balochistan Studies - London