A Two-Way Coin: Balochistan and Kashmir

Inshallah, Kashmir is a short film made by Ashwin Kumar which is based on the life of a civilian living in a disputed territory facing terrible times. The other documentary, Balochistan: Pakistan’s Other War is made by Al Jazeera’s journalist – renowned television channel.

The short film, Inshallah Kashmir opens up with the news declared on 21st August, 2011 by Indian government about the State Human Rights Commission who admitted to 2156 unidentified bodies from thirty-eight grave sites in Kashmir. This was the first time Indian government acknowledged the crimes that were committed by Indian army against Kashmir civilians.

The first part of the film focuses on the interviews with ex-militants that went through a terrible period.  Zahoor Ahmed Hajam, an ex-militant, talks about the third-degree torture he faced when he was abducted by the army. There is a normalcy in the way he talks about torture as if its a daily routine faced by him and that’s basically the thing we see further in the film. Men remembering their experiences of how they were drenched in petroleum through different sources. Men clenching their fists as they go into the dark corners of their mind when they were faced off to witness a small boy being chained by metal wires.

Bashir Baba, Ex-militant

Kumar goes through many men dictating their stories but the most painful one to witness was the time when the ray of hope was shining through the eyes of Bashir Baba, ex-militant as he recited the time when the people were given the choice to vote for either the candidate of Muslim United Front or the candidate of National Conferences. Alas! the armed forces rob off the choice of elections from the Kashmir civilians and made the National Conference candidate won as they were feared was witnessing another Pakistan being made, as said by Bashir Baba. This was the second feature in the film that made for Occupation to Election as the things advanced.

The third and fourth part of the film majorly focuses on Kashmir Pandit- The Hindus of Kashmir. Dr. Amit Wanchoo tells Kumar about how his grandfather was murdered by the hands of militants whom he taught he was helping.  In 1990, Hindus were fleeing Kashmir as they were being targeted by militants. He witnessed a barbaric time as his fellow religious brethren were being murdered. Wanchoo stayed back and recalls the time as his Muslim friends helped him move on over the loss of his grandfather. He says, “.. and I think it was nice I stayed back and started seeing things.”

Simultaneously, Kumar shows us the perception of Wajahat Habibullah, a Former Commissioner of Kashmir in Government of India who served fifteen years in Kashmir, share his opinion on the ongoing attacks in the valley. Habibullah explains the migration of Hindus from Kashmir to Srinagar as the “.. administration (Indian government in Kashmir) has virtually broken down.”

“Missing or disappeared” is the fourth part that opens with a woman wailing at the loss of her son who has gone missing. There were ten thousand men either missing or disappeared unknowingly from the valley. One hundred thousand children became orphaned from such a big loss. The organisation, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, came into existence in 1990 when Parveena Ahangar’s son disappeared. She founded this organisation and gave several protests. The outcome wasn’t successful but people came adjoining in her cause with similar issues and demanding justice. Ahangar was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2005  for her efforts however her son was never found.

Fast forward, “The Kashmiri Militant” came into existence. This part gives us a more detailed view of how and why people opt for guns. The Wakhloos – prominent Kashmiri Pandits gives us the image of how troubled the militants actually were. Mrs. Wakhloo says as she recalls, “My God! Are these militants? They are such innocent people, young people.”

One of the most painful moment in the film was to witness the Kunanposhpora incident where forty women were raped by the Indian army. Habibullah’s point of view wasn’t much appreciated by the government. There was no interrogation taken into consideration where such a horrific incident happened. One of the things that bugged me throughout this whole film was the lack of perception of the government of Pakistan. Kumar included the Indian government’s point of view, the militants’ views, the civilians views but the lack of perception of Pakistani government gave me an incomplete sense.

However, the cinematography, the background music, the gloomy effect and the accurate use of vocabulary leaves a really good impression of the topic itself.

Balochistan: Pakistan’s Other War is solely based on the hurdles and issues Balochistan has been facing since 1948. It baffles me not to know that Balochistan was an independent state before 1948. It is really a surprise coming for a fellow native when the majority doesn’t know that Balochistan had to sign an accession treaty to be with Pakistan. The lack of educational institutes, the deficiency of health issues and the scarcity of utilizing natural resources of Balochistan for the people of Balochistan is an alarming situation which led to the rebellion we are facing today.

The death of their leader, Akbar Bugti created more chaos which made it impossible for the Pakistani government to come to negotiations. Yousuf Raza Gillani was scoffed at when he came to visit the political leaders in Balochistan. The thing that is unacceptable for Balochis is the use of natural resources for others in their province which is quite acceptable and justified point. Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan with minimal population but still, it is not given much importance and value.

General Saleem Nawaz, Pakistan Armed Forces official says that Balochis are to be blamed as they destroy every effort the Pakistani government does. This seems quite biased as they wouldn’t have destroyed those things had they not been provoked. The Balochis doesn’t want ‘charity’. They declined many things by labelling them as charity.

They were promised jobs when Gawadar, a port in Balochistan was being transformed from a desert to a civilized city. However, the educated civilians of Balochistan weren’t given the jobs. This made Balochis more angry and distrustful towards Pakistani government. The jobs were given to outsiders.

Nawab Aslam Raisani, Chief Minister of Balochistan gives his opinion with a justified reason. He says that they welcome people into Balochistan for work purposes and living purposes but they won’t be allowed to vote, which is reasonable.

The Balochi Women came out on roads to protest violently in rage as their husbands and father were being abducted and sent into training by the Army. When an army who is supposed to protect the people of its nation is involved in horrible incidents then how come the Balochi civilians will be to trust them?

It concludes with the fact that Balochistan is leading towards the same result when Bangladesh wanted freedom. Our government could learn from its past mistakes or be ready to face another big loss.

Pakistan needs to show honest enthusiasm for the welfare of Balochs by embarking on a decent association with Balochs. The previous six many years of military invasions have demonstrated that our force has neglected the Balochs. The time has come to give equity and justice to Balochs.

On the other hand, The Kashmir issue should by now get sorted out in order to have a proper system in Kashmir and for Kashmir to not get neglected.

Author: Aazeen Wally

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