By Malik Siraj Akbar
I was told that a lot of money was coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and many other Arab countries these days to radicalize the Baloch society. Religious schools are mushrooming. Outsiders are nipping to the town to get education from the religious schools lavishly funded by Arab countries. Interestingly, the language centers that once played a magnificent role in the development of the society have now began to teach the kids the translation of short Quranic verses, the six Kalimas and the religious prayers prescribed for eating, sleeping etc. “Perverted images” from the New American Streamline textbook have been removed and “filthy words” such as “love”, “kiss”, “sexist” have been “carefully rephrased” in order to “ensure” the “sanctity of the classrooms”
The Pakistani Establishment, fully cognizant of these developments, is delightedly viewing this process of Islamization of the Baloch society. Foreign money has made the local clerics of the most influential political and economic stakeholders of the society. More and more foreigners are entering the town without legal documents. In my childhood, I had not heard of Turks and Uzbaks coming to Panjgur. Today’s Jang, Pakistan’s most circulated Urdu newspaper, reports the arrest of three Turks and one Macedonian national from Panjgur. Where do they come from? Who is sponsoring these trips? What is actually happening in my town?
Baloch nationalists in Panjgur have lost to the Mullah and pro-establishment nationalists. The level of nationalistic awareness has embarrassingly declined. A town once known for its liberal writers, intellectuals and committed nationalists is gradually derailing. Not many people truly realize in the area how much you lose when you shut a library. It is the society that becomes the biggest loser when cricket/football tournaments and Balochi musical programs stop taking place.
The only “good news” I heard about Panjgur was about the allotment of a huge area in Khudabadan town by the government to the Tabligee Jammat (the group of Islamic preachers) to conduct a huge congregation of the Islamic preachers in the town.
“You see we have become very lucky by now,” boastfully mentioned the young boy sitting beside me on the bus on my way back to Quetta, “Allah has chosen by His blessings the town of Panjgur for this august annual gathering. Every year, around two hundred thousand Muslims come from Iran, Afghanistan and all over Pakistan to cogitate about the fate of the Muslim Ummah.”
“Has the government allotted land for any libraries in the area,” I inquired.
“What are they?” he asked back.
“Oh sorry. You don’t kno them. Are there any universities in the area for the students?” I tried to find out.
“No. There are no transportation facilities. Who will come and go to a university?” he replied.
“Has the government provided the town with a railway track by now?” I asked again.
“No. No one takes interest in the development of the area,” he added.
“Any industrial units?” I went on.
“No. They are an agent of distraction. If you have a lot of money around you then you will never think about your life hereafter. We are glad we don’t’ have them,” he explained.
“So who makes arrangements for a mammoth religious gathering in this tiny town,” I asked.
“Allah!” he retorted. (read HERE)