Gandhi’s misadventures with the Khilafat Movement did not make him Gandhi jee, but his Salt march did. At 61 years old, clad in simple white cotton wraps, Gandhi walked 390km on foot from Ahmedabad to Dandi to protest against the mercantile salt laws imposed by the British. The move was unprecedented and unconventional. His peaceful walk spoke louder than an anarchic agitation anywhere in India. Gandhi became the face of the Indian partition movement and got elevated to spiritual, political, and social positions that will forever remain unmatched and due credit is given to this walk in question. The truth is that the walk did make him a legend; it made Gandhi Jee immortal.

84 years down the road, an old man (aged 72), along with a very small congregation of variant ages (the youngest just 11 years old), walked 2000km to peacefully protest for his own cause. It was a historic moment, or atleast it should have been. The old man, Mama Qadeer, however did not reach the legendary status of Gandhi for he was almost unwise to not have done his homework. What Mama Qadeer missed was a simple and very obvious fact: He was walking in the land of the consciously ignorant, emotionally impotent, morbidly lazy and notoriously alethephobic Pakistanis. The thunder of his footsteps hence fell on able ears that refused to recognize the otherwise deafening fortississimo. His was a futile effort, ours is a hopeless case.

Mama Qadeer’s son, Jalil Reki, was the information secretary of the Balochistan Republic party, a nationalist party rooted in Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s Jumhoori Watan Party. His campaigns for his missing friends and colleagues were getting louder in his last days at home. He had paid no heed to the warnings from his friends and relatives and continued writing press releases demanding justice for the missing persons. According to an extract from Mohammad Hanif’s “The Baloch who is not missing and others who are”, Mama Qadeer confesses that his son’s abduction had been predicted by many. The fears translated into reality on 13th of February 2009 when he too became a missing person. Officials from the intelligence agencies picked him up and detained him for 2 years and eight months. His body was later found near the Iranian border, mutilated and torture scarred. He was no more a missing person.

What Mama Qadeer fails to understand is that he is an enemy of the state. He is a traitor and a terrorist. His sins are unforgivable and painfully anarchic and his actions taint the sacred fabric of our national psyche. What he demands is unreasonable: He campaigns against extra-judicial killings and illegal detentions administered by our sacred cows, the intelligence agencies. He seeks justice for his son and the 139 dead (found mutilated, bullet ridden and torture marked after countless days of abduction) and the 143 missing persons who (he hopes) are still alive. Justice is an alien concept in Pakistan. Mama Qadeer should have done his homework. He should have learnt from his ineffectual hunger strike and the sham promises of Khwaja Asif. He should have foreseen the futility of the walk before hand. He should not have been disappointed with the lackluster response seen in Lahore and Islamabad. Mama Qadeer should never have expected anything from the government or the state institutions in the first place. He should have known that Balochistan does indeed belong to Pakistan, however how much is this Pakistan of the Balochis, well that is but another, very ghastly story.

On 4th March 2015, Mama Qadeer along with a fellow activist, Farzana Baloch (the sister of Zakir Majeed, another missing person) was barred from attending a Human Rights seminar organized by the World Sindhi Congress in U.S. The FIA officers manhandled the activists and informed them of an FIR registered against them. They informed them that they were terrorists and hence on the Exit Control List. The two were separately interrogated for 3 hours and once their flight had left the airport, the two were ordered to go back to Quetta. Their protests were yet again in vain. Mama Qadeer now pledges to challenge his detention in the Supreme Court. If nothing else, he seems to be overly optimistic about Pakistan’s judiciary.

There was much condemnation of India’s choice earlier this month, to ban the documentary ‘India’s daughter’. Taking advantage of any opportunity that derides our nemesis neighbor, the Pakistani media questioned the verdict of the Indian High court. It blandished the Indian society for a cowardly escape from recognizing their ills. Alas, if only we could have been as stringent and critical of the choices of our own Government. Barely any channel remarked on the aforementioned barring of Mama Qadeer and Farzana Baloch. He did not make news, a wife beating her stage actor husband did.

Silencing was never supposed to be the answer to any agitation and yet, Pakistan shamelessly silences every voice that rises out of Balochistan. The history of the conflict and the factors that have given rise to the current predicament demands a thorough reflection by our decision makers. For the common Pakistani, it is important to understand what circumstances pushed Mama Qadeer to suffer the tragedy that made him the legend that he is. It is but a simple case of cause and effect. It is high time that we cease to ignore the causes and treating the effects as abnormalities.

Post Script: It was difficult to research on this topic because almost every website containing news achieve, database, literature and opinions on the aforementioned cause is blocked by PTA. This in the time of proxies. Who is the government trying to fool or console?

 The writer is a freelance writer based  in Islamabad. He can be contacted at kureshiwrites@gmail.com