COMMENT: Grand reconciliation?—Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur - Sunday, April 17, 2011

Here we have charlatans, scoundrels, rogues, racketeers, rapscallions, blackguards, bullies and bums passing off as leaders and statesmen, and no one is going to oblige them 

The ineptness of politicians, the unchecked power of the military, the rapaciousness of the haves, the rise of fundamentalism, the apathy of the public in general and the abuse and misuse of the media have damaged the social, economic and political fabric here to the extent where no amount of darning can repair it. The acute and profound contradictions here have become irresolvable and cannot be resolved via diyat (blood money) the way the Raymond Davis affair was; the prevailing contradictions and antagonisms can be solved only on the basis of equality, respect for rights and relinquishing of the coercive power now wielded by the state and its institutions.

Unfortunately, intellectual myopia and dependence on spurious slogans are the hallmarks of politicians here. They see progress and politics as events and not as processes. This shortsightedness has always led them to the inevitable dead-end where they are now permanently stationed. For them a big public meeting, a charter, a commission, a reference, a bogus call to revolution or completing a term is thought to be enough. They want complex economic, social and historical processes to be resolved with the magic wand of slogans and events. They cannot understand the complexities of processes and the time involved in their development and fruition.

The hollowness and shallowness of the rulers and politicians, both civilian and military, who have tried to present themselves as messiahs stands exposed by the harsh ground reality of the economic woes and physical insecurity that people face today.

Having thrived upon spurious slogans, they have made it a lucrative business, which is the national past time for politicians of all hues and colours. Wanting to appear ‘statesman’ like, they come up with slogans of ‘revolution’ and ‘grand reconciliation’ though they do not fully understand their requirements and implications.

Chaudhry Nisar, in his recent National Assembly speech, said that the country needed “a grand reconciliation” and demanded a post-apartheid South Africa like “truth and reconciliation commission”. He however did not bother to specify as to reconciliation between whom? The Baloch and Pakistani state, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the have-nots and haves, the now out of control vicious ‘strategic assets’ and their victims, the conniving judiciary and masses that have suffered martial laws, the increasingly marginalised minorities and the state, the extorted and the extortionists, the police and the public, the parliamentarians and their constituents? The list can go on and on because here there are so many conflicts and aggrieved parties that however grand a reconciliation Chaudhry Nisar envisages, it will never be enough.

First of all, reconciliation can only take place between equals. The truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa materialised when apartheid ended. It was impossible as long as the blacks were second-class citizens and did not wield the political power to make things happen. Reconciliation cannot take place between the oppressors and the oppressed. Would the FC admit to its atrocities and desist from them if it does not continue to wield the power that it possesses over the political, economic and physical lives of those it regularly oppresses, helps disappear and dispose off in Balochistan? Not in a million years.

Altaf Hussain offered mediation between the Baloch and the government, which is surprising because he and his party, being in the government, are party to the atrocities committed against the Baloch. The MQM has developed the ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hounds’ tactic to an art form. The politically hermaphroditic philosophy that they follow is unique to them. Though culpable by association of atrocities in Balochistan and Sindh, they conveniently disown them. They truly are political hermaphrodites. I digress.

The second and equally important condition is the willingness of the perpetrators of these atrocities to agree to come clean about how, why and to what extent the atrocities were committed and bring to book those responsible for the crimes against humanity. Such a scenario is unimaginable because the rulers and the establishment will never even apologise, leave alone accept responsibility and make amends for their crimes.

It has been 40 years now that the atrocities of pillage and rape, as weapons, were unleashed on the Bengalis and there has never been an official apology and acceptance of the crimes committed against them in 1971.

The third prerequisite for all reconciliations is the relinquishing of authority by the perpetrators of atrocities and excesses so that the people may never again have to bear the ravages of their vicious excesses. Here, neither the army nor the rulers will forego their authority because it is this authority that is the basis of their economic prosperity. Foregoing authority would put an end to their privileges, perks, pelf and power. It is highly unlikely that there can ever be a grand national reconciliation here because the state and its institutions will never relinquish their autocratic authority.

The fourth indispensible condition is the presence of a leader of Nelson Mandela’s stature, integrity and vision. Without a Mandela, reconciliations cannot happen and, even under him, there were many who were dissatisfied and refused reconciliation. Here we have charlatans, scoundrels, rogues, racketeers, rapscallions, blackguards, bullies and bums passing off as leaders and statesmen, and no one is going to oblige them.

The incumbent national reconciliation ordinance (NRO) government is working hard on their brand of national reconciliation but it seems that Chaudhry Nisar and his party want their brand of national reconciliation so that all those who have not been able to put their snouts into the trough can do so.

Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the people, the politicians and institutions here are interested in resolving contradictions and antagonisms insofar that they benefit from them. Naturally, when contradictions and antagonisms become irresolvable, force is the only option left and, as Mao Tse Tung said, “War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes.”

The emerging picture of the increasing and intensifying contradictions and worthless and ineffective political class and institutions, which are interested in their upkeep only may force the people to put Karl Marx’s adage “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one” into practical use to bring about required changes. The Baloch are already acting upon it.

The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He can be contacted at

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