KARACHI - Baloch Sardars have considerably lost their traditional and conservative hold over their people who are today more educated, forward-looking and liberal and want to pursue the path of democracy and bring about a change in their own society, said Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, central secretary general National Party (NP) and the son of veteran Baloch leader, late Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, while giving an interview to The Nation here the other day. Hasil Bizanjo rejected the popular perception that Baloch Sardars hold sway over their people. "It may be true six decades ago but huge changes have occurred in the Baloch tribal society which is more independent and forward-looking and the perception that the Sardars are strong even today is not true. No doubt in the tribal culture of Balochistan, Sardars enjoy great respect but that privilege should not be considered as hold over their people", he said. Sardars in Balochistan are alive on the payroll of establishment and their power lies in government and not in the people. It is unfortunate that government had provided them the shield to oppress their own people, he added. Bizenjo said that Baloch youth is more educated and liberal and they look forward to play a positive role in their own society through democratic means rather than imposing tribal or despotic solutions to solve the local problems. When asked what role nationalist parties could play in the war against terrorism, he said they could play their positive role and counter terrorism in a democratic way. Taliban is a bigger threat to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan than the Americans, who have their own economic interests in this region. The US is running after the mineral and natural resources of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics, he said, adding the establishment and army had protected the religious extremists in the shape of MMA during the last five years. Had they not protected religious fundamentalism, the situation would have been different, he argued. Bizenjo said people in NWFP had rejected the MMA and despite presence of Taliban voted for liberal and democratic forces of PPP and ANP in February 18 general elections. Similarly, the JUI-F won seats in Balochistan only because the APDM boycotted the February 18 elections. He said he did not see any difference between Talibanisation, religious extremism and religious parties. "I do not accept if some one said that JUI or Jamaat-e-Islami have different thinking than that of religious extremism. These religious parties shared the Taliban agenda at some level." He said that sectarian strife and the Talibanisation had damaged the nationalist movements. "Taliban have shaken up the society as well as the nationalists' forces but situation has drastically changed after February 18 general elections when people voted for liberal and democratic parties like ANP and PPP in NWFP. Fundamentalism, he said, exists only at limited level and the Taliban did not appear all of a sudden. There is a background for their emergence. It is the by-product of the so-called jihad in which Pakistan took part alongside US in Afghanistan. It came into being with the collaboration of religious Ulema, generals and American forces during the Afghan war when religious parties declared the Soviet Union a "Kaafir" and sided with America, he alleged. Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who ided with America, had declared the war in Afghanistan was jihad. Now these very religo-political leaders are caught in the quagmire they had created. It is a fait accompli. Responding to a question on the failure of the nationalist movements, he said the movements had not been failed but their success or growth had been slow. "It was unfortunate that nationalist movements are considered as anti-federation and secessionists, which was absolutely wrong. Nationalists were striving for the rights of their people. The four nationalities in Pakistan have a geographical area where they are living according to their customs and tradition. Thus Pathans, Punjabis, Balochi and Sindhis had decided to live together in one federation called Pakistan. However Sindh abandoned its rights when it voted for Pakistan Resolution in the provincial assembly for the sake of federation", he claimed. Bizenjo said that federation was successful in countries where democratic rule flourished because in democracy everyone respects the rights of other nations, people and religion and this practice strengthens their mutual bonds. However, it was unfortunate that democracy did not flourish in our country which resulted in the weakening of federation, he added. He did not agree with the question that Soviet Union was disintegrated due to nationalist forces. "I do not think so. It is wrong perception. I will call the People of Soviet Union as civilized nations, because when they decided not to live together, the federation disintegrated and a not single person was injured. The leadership of USSR had demonstrated intelligence and wisdom." Similarly, Czechoslovakia was disintegrated in Europe and Bangladesh parted ways with Pakistan. When asked how did he perceive survival of nationalists' movement in the era of globalisation, he said in this era of Globalisation, the pace of overall development in various regions of world has only gained momentum. But it had not changed the geography of the world and every tribe and people are living on their own land. It is the era of nation's right and the nations in the world have stood up for their rights, in Europe, France, Germany and even in Canada the French speaking Quebecs were demanding their rights. This era has cast positive impact and people were getting aware all over the world. When his attention was drawn towards the prevailing situation of country, he said Pakistan was passing through a critical juncture and was facing multiple challenges like terrorism, law and order and economic crisis. In the prevailing circumstance, the present government should be given chance to steer the country out of morass. This was the crucial time for all democratic and political forces to rise to the occasion, shun their differences and refrain from leg pulling of others and resolve the basic problems of masses. "Being a nation we will have to sacrifice and avoid luxurious life. We will have to cut our defence budget and spend more and more on social sector to ameliorate the lot of poor. It was the responsibility of the PPP to bring all people and political parties together and resolve problems of masses otherwise the consequences would be disastrous. The situation has reached beyond the in-camera session of national assembly." We have to go to the masses and apprise them about real situation of the country.