My memory of Baba Khair Bakhsh Marri, father of the Balochistan Freedom Movement
Prof. Naela Quadri Baloch
The World Baloch Women’s Forum
He always took my hand and welcomed me with affection, we discussed for hours, me eating cakes, drinking tea, continuous talking and he sitting motionless without taking a drop of water, raising small questions, sometimes giving statements of very strong essence. One such session went for continuous 11 hours. Dr Bashir Azeem, Secretary General of BRP was with us, he was surprised to see our strange chemistry.
We always shook hands when we said ‘good bye’, but that day he was reluctant to give his hand at the time of good bye, he said it is a myth that handshake at good bye means we will not see each other again, his seriousness resembled a saint but I took it lightly and took his soft hand in my hands and said I will be back in a week and we will be together for a month to work on the handbook we just discussed to publish , I said bye to Waja Wahab Baloch who was with us and left for Shaal (Quetta).
That was in 2009. In November that year my home in Shaal was raided nine times by Pakistan’s army to arrest me, but they failed because I was continuously moving from place to place in and around the city in disguise, my sons and husband were also doing the same at different places. The week passed in hiding and a month after a day came when I was crossing Afghan border in disguise stepping forward in the footsteps of Comrade Khair Bakhsh Khan Marri on Afghan soil.
I wanted him to come here again but he said that I shall never use Pakistan’s passport to travel by air and my health condition won’t allow me to cross border in hard terrain in disguise. He was saintly right we never met again and after 4 painful years & seven months of missing him I saw his moonlike face in coffin in a picture sent by a friend.
He was a born leader and born victor, all along his life he lead our spirits to struggle at the deepest and the highest levels for freedom of our motherland Balochistan from occupation of Pakistan and Iran, and will lead us forever. He always defeated all evil forces in a very calm but extensively assertive way. He defeated Pakistan’s dirty conspiracies against Baloch freedom movement in all ups and downs and he defeated iron lines of tribalism, class & gender and included all Baloch in freedom struggle.
After coming back from exile he, with his comrades and sons reorganized Baloch liberation movement during the silence era of 20 years in a very secretive manner. He was very enlightened and broad minded person and a great supporter of Baloch women’s involvement in freedom movement. The bigger part of Baloch society lives in tribal and strong patriarchal clasp, economy resembles the sixteenth century.
Women are not allowed to participate in decision making and joint activities with men, even in funerals Baloch women are not allowed to participate only men take the body to graveyard.
I broke this taboo for the first time and started sitting in Fateha with tribal men, attended funeral of Babu Abdur Rahman Kurd and Malik Abdul Ali Kakar in graveyards years ago with my extremely supportive father, but I was the only woman there, nobody criticized me out of great respect, but Comrade Khair Bakhsh was the greatest admirer of my taboo-breaking courage, like driving a four-wheel vehicle in hard mountainous ranges for hundreds of kilometers to reach the Baloch living far away, leading public mass rallies as the only women with thousands of Baloch men. But bringing Baloch women into large scale in revolutionary activities seemed very far away.
The first step in the history of Baloch women in politics was the first Baloch women’s public rally to support the Baloch freedom activists in 1975 in Shaal (Quetta). The honourable wife of Comrade Khair Bakhsh Khan was leading the rally, I was a child holding soft encouraging hand of my mom and was raising slogans for freedom and freedom fighters, I kept on marching but alone, all those women and children came out on streets for just that historical day that made my life.
It took 30 years of step-by-step breaking of chain, layer by layer and it was fully supported by Baloch men who are natural allies of courage and truth, here it won’t be honest if I don’t give credit to Baloch Students Organization (BSO) and Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal for their tremendous support and backing always for me, but it took a whole generation to accept women’s participation and leadership in decision making and revolutionary activities.
This 19th Baloch freedom movement provided an enormous platform to Baloch women for breaking the 5000 years old chains of patriarchy and started appearing in public protests and marches, all the freedom loving Baloch not only accepted it with open heart but encouraged and defended them with great respect.
Once me, Mir Wadood Raisani, Chairman Khalil Baloch and Head of BRC Waja Wahab Baloch were having discussions with Comrade Khair Bakhsh Khan on Baloch women’s impressive participation in the freedom movement, he appreciated it with deep affection for his daughters, I asked ”now comrade what you say about the custom of honour-killing, Baloch women have proved that they are not lesser than anyone in defending their motherland if provided supportive atmosphere, do they deserve to be killed in the name of syakari (honour killing)?”
He said “NO” they deserve to live and grow, he further said “we need to provide supportive and encouraging atmosphere for Baloch women’s education, awareness raising, physical training and leadership development, we need to include it in the Charter and manifestoes of all Baloch freedom organizations, enemy will put efforts to confine Baloch women in the boundaries of home to snub freedom movement, we need to enable our people at community level to keep the path of freedom open for women”.
The infamous practices resembling “Boko Haram” of the State of Pakistan through its army and secret agencies in Balochistan are going on to keep Baloch youth away from education, they have occupied schools and changed them into army barracks, they have implanted religious extremists to stop girls schools and propagating that girls should not go out from homes.
This is to keep Baloch women confined to homes and not to lead the freedom struggle. Mass movement for independence of Balochistan understands this and supporting Baloch women in a progressive way to continue education and political activities. But we also need to be aware of the “pull back women” practices in the history of many successful revolutions when women are tried to send back to the traditional roles and men occupying all the fruits of struggle that was lead by women.
That is one of the main reason we support the “Baloch Liberation Charter” giving equal rights to women after the independence achieved.
The Baloch nation demonstrated extensive confidence in the revolutionary potentials of Baloch women and proved very right, Baloch women have soon took the lead, done political activities in extremely risky and hard situations even where it was not possible for Baloch men to be active.
This took a climax when his coffin was hijacked by Pakistan army; they have announced his funeral at three different places in Shaal (Quetta) to confuse Baloch people and divide the huge mob in three parts, it was planned by army and Jangrez Khan (his deviant son) to take his body to Kohlu in his ancestor’s graveyard a no go area for common Baloch by Pakistan army.
They wanted to humiliate our leader and were doing all the idiotic things that were totally against Khair BaKhsh Khan’s life style and ideology, like appointing a mass murderer to lead the funeral prayer and taking his body away from his people, he was the most beloved leader, scholar and teacher of Baloch masses and always wanted to be with his common Baloch.
I called a Marri elder in Kandahar and asked about the funeral, he sadly said that now things are not with freedom loving Baloch, now Jangrez has suddenly became the “master”, he is taking the coffin to Kohlu in Pakistan’s military helicopter, may be locked as the suspicious coffin of Martyred Nawab Akbar Bugti.
I said that he had expressed his last wish to me that he wanted to rest in peace in the Graveyard of Baloch Martyrs in Nokhen Kahan Shaal (Quetta) and I have witnesses for that. I remember that when I said “I will also accompany you there comrade” he said you have much time than me to reach there, I said who knows who will be the first, me and Mir Balach born in the same year 1965, but he succeeded earlier, has martyrdom a condition to be killed by the enemy?
He said “no, we have already accepted martyrdom the day we had stepped on the way of freedom struggle, we already left the normal routines and pleasures of life, now how death selects to reach us is not in our control”
Can our great leader so powerless that his coffin will be in the hands of Pakistan’s army? The filthy hands he always refused to shake with, even when he was in jail.
But as I said he is a born victor, his trust in Baloch women proved to be Right!
His great daughters entered in the huge mob of uncountable men, covered the coffin of their beloved leader with the flag of Balochistan, made a hand in hand circle around the coffin, took the coffin on their own shoulders and started walking towards the Baloch Martyr’s graveyard Nokhen Kahan, opposite of the direction of army helicopters waiting for another defeat by the great soul of Baba Marri may rest in peace in the gorgeous leap of motherland and watch us stepping on his footsteps.