Baluchistan’s Illegal Occupation and the Paradox of Abject Empires
Date 2012-09-15 | Topic: Articles
|By Shahswar K|
Paradox of an empire reminds one of the paradox of a heap. A nation on its own without usurping other nations cannot create an empire. Likewise, a single grain of sand cannot make a heap of sand. What is then the last grain that creates a heap? Embedded in the very concept of single sand is the exclusion of the heap. That is to say no single grain can be counted as forming a heap. In reverse order, a heap is nothing else but amassing of multiple of sands. On such matters one can go on debating endlessly in a circular counterintuitive argument without reaching a firm conclusion. Yet, a heap is a reality but we would not know the very grain of sand that would transform a none-heap to a heap of sand. In the same way it would be difficult to pin point precisely the turning point when an aggressive nation turns into an empire. Is it when a nation subjugates another nation or a segment of another nation or two nations or more? These are sort of questions that one is bound to ask oneself when one tries to assess the present position of Baluchistan.
Conventional wisdom now has it that all empires are undesirable. Empires, without exception, proved to be fanatically violent and destructive. From such standpoint they are deemed to be aggressive and vicious. Expansionist policies are parts of their very makeup. To survive it is in their nature to conquer and exploit weaker nations. In certain extreme cases such policies have resulted in extermination of almost the entire population of the endogenous people of some nations. It was because of these horrific deeds that imperial politics fell out of favour. These days, it is generally accepted that the era of empires is over. The imperial political structure is said to be unworkable and is doomed to failure. Despite this general belief, certain degree of legitimacy has been granted to the present day’s most corrupt, repressive and violent empires.
The empires that most people are familiar with are the European empires - more specifically those empires that came into being after fifteenth and sixteenth century. Among them were the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the English, the French, the Austro-Hungarian, and the Turkish Empire. It was in conformity with this general stance that the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked by many as the end of the imperial era.
Escaping from the old ideas is not an easy undertaking particularly when the status quo is in one’s self interest. The elites of present day colonial establishments and their subjects are indoctrinated primarily in conventional theory of imperialism. At its core this theory perceives white European nations as the principal guilty party of imperial aggression and conquest. As and when the era of European empires approached its lifecycle, they take that as the end of the era of imperial conquest and subjugation. This misconception has resulted in terrible consequences. Because of this fallacy untold atrocities have been justified or disregarded even by those who have been affected directly by such arbitrary political arrangements. Due to this mistaken belief the rights of the stateless nations that have been illegally occupied by non-European nations have totally been ignored. The reality, however, is different. Many of the present-day stateless nations are a legacy of European empires. These ill-fated nations were divided and gifted to their ex-colonies or allies. Many others were simply occupied by non-European nations i.e. by local powers that are not perhaps well-known worldwide. Nevertheless, their acts of conquest, aggression, occupation, repression and exploitation are in effect not any different from that of the archetypal European empires.
One consequence of the application of this erroneous view has been the denial of the democratic rights of subjugated nations even by their own educated elite. If we extend this argument to its logical boundaries it will invariably wrap up in one conclusion. That is the idea that only European colonialism is morally abhorrent and hence objectionable. If the same act is carried out by another colonial geopolitical entity such as for example Pakistan and Iran, since they are not European states that makes their act more acceptable. Self-denial of one’s inherent rights in this way has not just perpetuated the length of subordination but has deepened the scale and scope of barbarism against the subjugated nations such as the Baluch, the Kurd and other nations. This is because the postulate of conventional Imperial state is not exactly compatible with such states as Pakistan and Iran. But these learned elites forget that no one empire fits exactly with any other empire. It would be sheer folly, therefore, to come up with a universal definition of Imperialism that can be applied to all type of imperial nations all the time. Besides, this stance inevitably leads to some kind of fatalism. That is, the submission to the myth of being less human. By accepting the authority of the occupying state as something that is everlasting and unquestionable, one leaves one’s destiny to the illegal occupier. Subdued to one’s captors only mean forgoing one’s legitimate, democratic and natural rights. That willy-nilly becomes the outcome of living under conditions of illegal occupation.
If you take the example of nations that fits conventional description of a typical empire, then at what stage do we consider them to be transformed and become empires. Was it when they occupied one nation or was it when they occupied two, three or more nations? So what number of nations do they require to occupy in order to make one state, a country or a nation an empire? Moreover, how developed a nation can be to be listed in the category of empires? Is it the amount of force or the extent of exploitation and violence that differentiate an empire or is it the colour of the skin, geographical location, or political, ideological and religious beliefs that distinguishes an empire from a non-empire state. Can nations that have never been occupied and colonised qualify as an empire or can an ex-colony also fall into this category? These are very simple questions. But providing incorrect answers to these questions can be detrimental to one’s rights and future survival.
There is not a single timeless instruction that all empires do strictly follow. Possibilities in this regard are endless. Varying political and economic conditions have given rise to different kinds of empires. A small nation may occupy and subjugate a much larger nation. On this very issue, England occupied India and subsequently established its empire. In essence this act and its outcome are not any different from England subjugating Ireland, a considerably much smaller nation. Out of these two acts evidently one does not make England an empire and the other does. Both acts are manifestly aggressive imperial acts. Empires do not necessarily tend to be from most developed nations. A nation can be relatively underdeveloped or very developed but that does not prevent a nation to peruse an imperial ambition. It is also possible that a nation may occupy and subjugate a number of considerably smaller nations or an ex-colony to be transformed into an imperial power. Holland was a colony of imperial Spain and after its liberation it became an empire itself. Empires have not exclusively been the product of European nations either. Nor one religion, ideology and political philosophy have been their moral backing and justification. There have been different empires formed at different historical periods for different reasons. Some emerged through pure brute force, some by means of trade and some even accidently.
The final blow to traditional empires came during the first and second wars. In fact, these wars were their ultimate phase of their rivalry. They were their wars. Even the colonial enthusiasts after these wars questioned credibility of imperial powers. Among more informed, fair-minded rational individuals imperial conquest and colonisation never had any validity and were regarded as inherently immoral and objectionable political constructions. The weakening of European empires, in particular British Empire resulted in leaving its colonies as muddled as ever. Thus, the act of leaving by and large, as the initial act of subjugation of these nations was equally irrational, undemocratic and repressive. As result of these colonial acts many nations have remained mutilated and cut into pieces in the most senseless manner and were left to guard and preserve their borders.
Indescribable cruelty and destructive effects of these wars seriously put the legitimacy of conventional empires into question. Many nations became independent after these wars. The era of conventional empires ended with these wars. As empires are not constructed on rational, moral, legal and humane principles their ends are not equally any different. Dying empires still know their vested interest and put as much obstacles against the liberated nations as possible. Creation of arbitrary countries such as Iran and Pakistan were product of their mess.
Iran was forged in mid 1930s and Pakistan in 1947. The imperial power involvement in forging these senseless boundaries cannot be denied. Arrival of Reza Khan Mirpanj at the time when the Old Persian Empire was on its last leg was with the consent of British Empire. But the reinstallation of Persia was not the only aim of Reza Khan. His military aggression was extended to neighbouring nations. He succeeded by means of naked force to annex a segment of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Arabistan (Alahvaz) and Baluchistan to Persia. His army invaded Western Baluchistan in 1928. After illegal occupation of the territories of these nations in order to conceal the plain occupation of these territories in mid 1930s the Persian rulers changed “Persia” to “Iran.” Designating all the regions under their control including the occupied territories as unitary entity was merely a ploy to justify Persian colonial rule over their conquered nations. The new arbitrary geopolitical structure, Iran, came into being therefore by the sword of a Persian military dictator, Reza Khan Mirpanj. This is what define and preserve Iran’s present legitimacy.
Creation of Pakistan was even much more hollow and crude than this. With a little bit of sanity and reflection no one can fail to see its supreme absurdity. There was no ground for its creation. Even its founder realised this fact within a year of its creation. The excuse for its creation, however, was wrapped in mindless religiosity and racial hatred. But there can never be a nation with entirely one absolute religion. In all nations there will always be different beliefs, sects, and different interpretations of even the same religion. There will be non-believers and sceptics. That is because human imagination is infinite and it is bound to be diverse. For this reason; religions, beliefs, ideas, theories and perceptions are not pure and eternal. They change in time. They will be influenced by other religions and beliefs. Disregarding these natural attributes of humanity and sadistically forging an arbitrary boundary that is comprised of very old nations, traditions, cultures, languages, history and even different versions and understanding of Islam on the principle of one absolute religion can only be the work of a fundamentalist psychopath. Only a jihadist psychopath aims for controlling and dictating human imagination. The outcome of this experiment has been, as one must expect, uninterrupted bigotry, deception, extreme violence and gross violation of human rights.
One must not be obsessed with the use of a particular terminology. It is of little importance if one calls colonial geopolitical entities such as Iran and Pakistan as imperial powers or otherwise. The significant point is that neither artificial geopolitical structures correspond to any generally known empire nor do they fit to any preconceived definition of imperialism. But for colonised nations this is irrelevant what jargon is used to call these entities. The fact of the matter still remains intact. The term used to designate these arbitrary geopolitical structures does not remove the act of illegal occupation of the subjugated nations. In addition, terms of designation do not put out of sight the legitimate rights of nations under their subjugation. The demand for breaking free from these arbitrary colonial structures and determining one’s future would still be as legitimate, morally and legally just and defensible as regaining one’s independence from a conventional empire.
There is not any impenetrable obscurity for the Baluch nation to demand its freedom from illegal occupation. The political legitimacy of annexation of Baluchistan stems only and only from one source and that is brute force and violence. The legal and historical arguments made by the occupying states to support their colonial rule are simply vacant and totally invalid. Their institutions, decisions and policies are simply unrepresentative. All colonists are united in belittling the impact of their colonial acts. They pretend as if the nations under their subjugation have voluntarily accepted the yoke of subjugation and without their domination the native of subjugated nations either starve to death or tear one another apart like wild beasts. But the fact of the matter is exactly opposite. The occupying states are the principal source of starvation, exploitation, violence, destruction and extermination. Annexation of Baluchistan to both Pakistan and Iran came only out of the barrel of gun. Likewise, preservation of these colonial geopolitical structures will only be done out of the barrel of gun. The informed democratic consent of Baluch people will never be recognised in such fake geopolitical structures. The will of ruling establishment will always be imposed on Baluch nation so long as they remain their colony since such geopolitical structures are inherently undemocratic, violent and exploitative. The internal and international diplomatic tricks that are employed by these states are merely conventional formalities that are used to market their illegal and immoral colonial presence in Baluchistan.
Dr Shahswar K is a Baloch political and Human Rights activist. He is Senior Lecturer in Economics at London Metropolitan University, UK. He is the author of "Money and its Origins"