September 30, 2017

Changing Contours of Baloch Nationalist Movement

Since early 2000 Balochistan is yet again embroiled in a cobweb of violence. The presence of rudimentary representative institutions during the democratic interlude in the 1990s had afforded a semblance of medium to nationalist elites to articulate their grievances within the institutional mould. However, the abrupt rupture of institutionalised medium in concomitance with a repressive state apparatus during the dictatorial regime of General Pervez Musharraf signified not only the emergence of violent politics as the medium of contestation but a paradigmatic shift in the morphology, objectives and geography of the Baloch nationalist movement. Resultantly, current movement differs from many of its iterations in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. This paper attempts to identify such diacritical markers. It argues that the present movement is undergoing a process of leadership transformation with the participation of young and more articulate middle class setting off a process of „de-tribalisation‟ with non-tribal nationalists taking over the reins of leadership. The undergoing leadership transition is being paralleled by ideological propensities supplanting age-old tribal loyalties as the primary determinants of participation. The movement is also witnessing a gradual spatial expansion of nationalism which has brought forth a change in nationalist objectives too, with demands for provincial autonomy giving way to an idea of independent Balochistan. .

Through discourse analysis of the writings and discourses of intellectuals, activists and Political commentators from within Pakistan and outside, this paper identifies the above-mentioned diacritical markers of the on-going iteration of Baloch resistance and in the process highlights the rapidly changing nationalist landscape of Balochistan.

Changing Contours of Baloch Nationalist Movement

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